Much like it often plays out at the high school level between Chesapeake and Northeast, contention for softball dominion in Anne Arundel County at the junior level hinged on the talent right here in Pasadena.
The best 14U softball teams battling for the county championship in the 15-team North County Community Girls Softball League were both neighborhood squads: the Lake Shore Thunder and the Havenwood Venom.
On June 12 at Lake Shore Athletic Complex, the Thunder held off a valiant surge by the Havenwood Venom to win the final NCCGSL contest of the season 14-4 and come away with the county championship.
The 14U Lake Shore Thunder, coached by Mike Jacobs, finished the league season 15-1, while the Havenwood Venom, coached by Darren Lease, finished the season 13-3-2.
“Both teams should be proud to represent the county as the top softball teams,” said Lake Shore assistant coach Glenn Clayville. “In the future, many of the girls will be playing against each other as representatives of Chesapeake and Northeast.”
Lake Shore’s team of Alexis Born, Alyssa Johnson, Brooke Jacobs, Brooke Topper, Colette Kendall, Deja Troxel, Emily Burns, Emily McFarland, Jackie Dietz, Jayden Buchanan, Jenna Jankiewicz, Krista Jacobs, Lyla Clayville, Rylee Hyde and Shayna Jankiewicz excelled throughout the regular season and entered the playoffs with an undefeated record of 12-0. The Thunder marched to the championship round with playoff wins over Bowie, Severn and Broadneck.
Havenwood, meanwhile, took a difficult path to the championship round and almost pulled off a dramatic run to the title by coming through the loser’s bracket. After falling to the Havenwood Hustlers in the opening round of the playoffs, the Venom reeled off consecutive wins over GORC, Severn (twice) and Broadneck to set up a championship showdown with Lake Shore.
The Venom squad of Danica Lease, Briana Burroughs, Amaira Dyer, Faith Bullock, Ariana Nichols, Chelsea Kratsas, Samantha Mathias, Janie Rudolf, Erin Rogers, Cynthia Rogers, Jennie Kulig and Danielle Rohrback pulled out a back-and-forth 18-16 win over Lake Shore in extra innings in the first game, closing the game when Lake Shore had the winning run at the plate.
The win set up a winner-take-all final, which Lake Shore won decisively 14-4 to claim the crown. Havenwood took an early 3-0 lead, but Kendall sparked a five-run Lake Shore rally with a big hit in the fourth inning, and ace pitcher Buchanan held the Venom offense to just three hits over the final four innings. Hyde’s RBI hit late in the game capped the scoring, and Lake Shore finished the season as champs.
Lake Shore’s coaches — Jacobs, Clayville, Bob Burns and Shawn Jankiewicz — lauded the efforts of all the players in producing a successful season. Buchanan’s pitching was tops in the league, and the Thunder’s explosive offense scored a league-high 282 runs, reaching double-digit runs in every game. Clayville, Jenna Jankiewicz and Jacobs stood out as offensive stars for Lake Shore throughout the season, while Shayna Jankiewicz, Troxel, McFarland and Born were notably strong defensively.