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  • Christina Jordan pitched her Northeast team to victory over Chesapeake on May 21, the third straight season the Eagles have knocked the Cougars out of the playoffs.
    Photo by Colin Murphy
    Christina Jordan pitched her Northeast team to victory over Chesapeake on May 21, the third straight season the Eagles have knocked the Cougars out of the playoffs.

Northeast Girls Flip Playoff Switch, Oust Cougars For Memorable Win

Colin Murphy
View Bio
June 13, 2018

No one thought the Northeast softball team would do anything special this season.

Not the county’s other softball programs. Not the area rankings or projections. Not the myopic sports reporting at the Pasadena Voice.

Can you blame the naysayers? Just down the road at Chesapeake, the Cougars softball program burst out of the gate this spring, bulldozed to a 20-0 record and became the headline-making sensations of softball in Maryland and clear favorites to win the 3A East region, maybe even the state tournament.

The Eagles didn’t care about any of that.

Northeast took a blowtorch to the 3A East bracket on May 21, traveling to Chesapeake and ousting the No. 1 Cougars from the playoffs with an 8-2 win in the Section I final. Senior Christina Jordan was strong from the circle in scattering seven hits and allowing only two runs against Chesapeake’s potent lineup, and the Eagles pounded out 10 hits to take an early lead and never relent on the way to stunning their down-the-road rivals. Jenna Matulonis had a hit, a run and two RBIs; Kiersten Tomshack had a single and a triple, a run and three RBIs; Melanie Kral had two base hits, a run and an RBI; and Heather Barlage had a hit and two RBIs in the victory. Veronica Hampton reached base and scored; Madison Schelfe tripled and scored; Mallory Hetzel walked and scored; and McKayla Belanger walked and scored for the Eagles.

PHOTO GALLERY: Northeast softball vs. Reservoir, 3A East final, 5.21.18

Matulonis’ first-inning single scored Hampton to stake Northeast to an early lead. After Chesapeake tied the game 1-1, Schelfe tripled and Hetzel singled in the third, and both came around to score to give the Eagles the lead at 3-1, a lead they would never relinquish. Tomshack’s seventh-inning triple plated two runs, and she later scored in the frame, as Northeast went up 8-2 to deliver the late dagger.

For the third consecutive season, the Eagles ousted the higher-seeded Cougars come playoff time when no one thought they could or would.

“It means a lot, especially since we lost the first two [games against Chesapeake during the regular season], but especially in playoffs, just coming and beating them and taking them out, that’s what matters,” said Jordan. “It’s always in playoffs things really get started. It kicks off and we start fighting.”

Senior Tori Collins said the Eagles always believed, even when suffering defeats to Chesapeake on April 6 and May 2.

“Going in, they had already beaten us twice, so our confidence was a little low,” said Collins. “Everyone was saying we were going to lose. But we just came out, got fired up, and I couldn’t be more proud of my team. Playoffs is when it matters. They’re our rival, it’s Pasadena, and it’s awesome. We were working hard and everyone had the right mindset. A lot of the underclassmen played for us, the seniors, so I want to thank them for that.”

Alas, the Eagles’ weren’t able to keep the celebrations going for long. Northeast had to face Reservoir in the 3A East final; the games were stacked up on the same day following a week of rainouts. The Gators were game, defeating Northeast 7-4 back at Northeast, where the Eagles couldn’t break through for a big inning and Reservoir made plays defensively to win the region.

It was thus a bittersweet day for Northeast, which was hoping to return to the state tournament for the third straight year. The Eagle seniors have produced an impressive run of success in their tenure, with state-tournament appearances in 2016 and 2017 and three straight seasons knocking Chesapeake out of the playoffs.

Eagles coach Joe Hart said he was confident in his group, which executed the way it needed to against the Cougars.

“We worked on hitting the ball to the right side and making [Chesapeake] work, and that’s what we did,” he said. “The second game [against Reservoir], we just didn’t have the patience. They’re a good, sound defensive team, and they made every play. We just ran out of gas … [Christina] had the bases loaded twice [against Chesapeake], but she came through when it counted. We came through. I’m proud of them.”

Matulonis was a sophomore and the starting pitcher when Northeast toppled Chesapeake in 2016, and Jordan was the winning pitcher in Northeast’s 2017 and 2018 playoff wins over the Cougars.

Though naturally disappointed to not advance past Reservoir, Matulonis said the Eagles (13-9) will cherish the memory of beating the Cougars (21-2) yet again.

“That was the best feeling all season, especially losing to them twice, they thought it was going to be a cakewalk, and as soon as they got down, they were done,” said Matulonis. “We took advantage of them getting down to end their season when they thought they were going to end ours. They’re a good team. I think we proved ourselves tonight, and they won’t take us easily again.”

She is confident the program will continue to ascend.

“It’s a good feeling. I wish we would have won [against Reservoir], but I think next year’s team, the freshmen and the girls we have coming up, they’re going to get back here and keep it going.”

PHOTO GALLERY: Northeast softball vs. Reservoir, 3A East final, 5.21.18

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