No. 3 Allegany edges No. 2 Mardela, 1-0, in state semifinals

May 22—GLEN BURNIE — Facing a bases-loaded, no-out situation and clinging to a 1-0 lead, Abi Britton delivered a career-defining moment to send Allegany back to the title game.

Britton thumped strike one, strike two and strike three into Riley Gallagher's mitt. And she did it two more times to strand the bags full in the sixth inning and stun a previously untouchable Mardela team.

The ensuing elation carried into the final frame where Britton retired the side in order on three strikeouts, and third-seeded Allegany edged second-seeded Mardela, 1-0, in the Class 1A state semifinals Tuesday at the Bachman Sports Complex in Glen Burnie.

Allegany (21-0) scored its lone run on a Britton home run in the first inning, and the Campers handed Mardela (24-1) its first defeat of the year by the narrowest or margins.

"I've trained for these moments," Britton said of her mentality with her back against the wall in the sixth. "My dad and I have mentally prepared. I was just like, 'I need to get myself in the right mental space. I can do this.'"

Allegany advances to play Boonsboro (22-1) in the championship game on Saturday at 1 p.m. at the University of Maryland in College Park.

The sixth inning Tuesday was reminiscent of Allegany's last trip to the title game, where it defeated nationally ranked Patterson Mill, 3-2, in 2022 to bring home the school's third championship.

In that game, Patterson Mill had two runners in scoring position in the seventh with one out, and Britton won it with consecutive strikeouts.

She upped the difficulty two years later, but the result was the same.

"My whole body filled with tingles," Britton said, "and I was like, 'We've got this in the bag. We're winning this and making another trip to the state championship.'"

Mardela proved itself to be the best team Allegany has faced, out-hitting the Campers, 5-3, and recording base hits in five of the first six innings.

Its hurler Ava Twilley was as advertised, allowing just one run on three hits with seven strikeouts and three walks in seven innings pitched.

The right-hander missed her spot on one pitch, and it was the difference.

After recording two outs in the first inning, Twilley left a 1-1 delivery to Britton in the middle of the plate, and the Penn State signee sent it over the left-center field fence.

"She did great," Mardela head coach Kory Shiles said of his ace. "I called one bad pitch and the girl hit it out. Obviously want that one back."

Sky Porter doubled and Tyiss Jessie singled in the seventh for Allegany's other two base hits.

Mardela's left-handed hitting Julia Wisk had three singles off Britton, and fortunately for Allegany, the game ended with her in the on-deck circle.

The Warriors couldn't find a knock when it needed to leaving seven runners on base. Allegany left three.

Mardela ends its season having outscored its opponents 287-12.

"We out-hit them," Shiles said. "We had plenty of chances offensively, just didn't get the clutch hit with people in scoring position. I felt like we were the better team, but it just didn't play out like that today."

Britton was too amped up at the start and her increased velocity made it difficult to control pitches, forcing her to take a little off her fastball, she said, but she found her control late and ramped the speed back up.

The right-hander struck out four batters through four innings but fanned eight over the final three to finish with 12 Ks.

While Allegany didn't manufacture any offense after the first frame, it had a much better showing than its last outing against a pitcher of Twilley's caliber.

Allegany struck out 19 times in a 1-0 state quarterfinal loss to Catoctin last year, but it went down on strikes just seven times Tuesday and drew three walks.

Twilley entered the game with seven no-hitters this year.

"That's a freaking great team that we just played," Allegany head coach Dave Winner said. "I know we didn't have a lot of hits, but we put the bat on the ball much better than we did last year against Catoctin."

Both teams made multiple good defensive plays in the early stages.

Gallagher, a UMBC signee, threw out a runner trying to steal second base in the second inning by several steps.

Mardela's Camryn Dorr ended the fourth frame with a diving double play. The second baseman had to lay out to tag the runner going to second for the first out, and she recorded the second on a throw to first from her knees.

In the bottom half, Allegany third baseman Jordyn Sneathen made a catch in foul territory up against the fence in front of the Mardela dugout for the inning's second out.

Britton and her senior teammates Gallagher, Porter and Kylie Hook will now try to win one final game and become the first class in school history to win multiple state softball championships.

"It means more than the world that I get another game with my three fellow seniors," Britton said. "We've all played together since we were like four years old. I want to go out on top with them. That was a tough win, but I think we showed our grit there. I'm so grateful that we get to go back."

Alex Rychwalski is a sports reporter at the Cumberland Times-News. Follow him on Twitter @arychwal.