AMERICAN CORNER — Trailing 3-2, the Colonels got the start they wanted in the home seventh Tuesday afternoon, placing two runners in scoring position with no outs.

But Lions pitcher Cameron Whiteford then stepped back and took a deep breath. After collecting her thoughts and some more oxygen, she collected three straight pop-ups and Queen Anne’s County High’s softball team celebrated a 3-2 victory over unbeaten Colonel Richardson.

Queen Anne’s (10-0 overall, 3-0 North Bayside) took over sole possession of first place in the division, with Colonel Richardson (11-1, 3-1), Cambridge-South Dorchester (8-4, 3-1) and Easton (7-4, 3-1) tied in second place.

In addition to earning the win, Whiteford (7-0) knocked in a pair of runs, including what proved to be the game-winning run in the sixth.

Julia Smith (3 for 3) scored the game-winner after tripling home Belle Fields for the Lions.

“She (Smith) was our spark plug, her and Whiteford today,” Lions head coach Kim Rementer-Betts said. “She (Smith) was clutch. She was seeing the ball very well. She was clutch all the way, phenomenal game for Smith. She has really stepped into that role of being our leader, super proud of her.”

Colonel failed to produce at key moments, most significantly in the bottom of the seventh.

Delainey Sann (2 for 3) lined a single to left to open the Colonels seventh and Megan Stubbs walked. They both moved into scoring position on a passed ball. But Whiteford then induced three straight shallow pop ups to keep both the tying and winning run from scoring.

“I really had to take a deep breath there,” Whiteford said. “If you think of any game where second and third no outs, the first thing that comes to your head is, they’re scoring. So I had to take a deep breath, get in my zone, and just go at it.”

After a standard catch for the first out, Whiteford’s second catch came with a lunging backhanded grab in which she landed on both knees before skidding to a stop in foul territory. Her third catch probably could have been gloved easier by her third baseman, but Whiteford bolted for it right off the bat. Credit to Lions third-sacker Alyson Hall for staying out of her way.

“The pressure was definitely on, but you know Whiteford’s a gamer,” Rementer-Betts said. “And I know she was going to do all she could to get those outs.”

Both Whiteford and Colonel pitcher Jen Larrimore (8-1) went the full seven innings on the mound.

Whiteford allowed two runs on six hits, six walks, two hit-batters, and two wild pitches. She fanned six. Larrimore gave up three runs (two earned) on five hits and three walks; she struck out seven.

After three scoreless innings, Smith lined a single to left to open the fourth and moved to third on a two-base throwing error. She came home on Whiteford’s sacrifice fly to right to open the scoring.

The Colonels answered in the home fourth. Cassidy Stubbs walked and moved up a base on a wild pitch. Alexis Bates walked and both runners advanced on Grace Buchanan’s bunt. Reagan Tull was hit by a pitch to load the bases. Stubbs scored and the other two runners move ahead on a wild pitch. But Colonel’s next batter popped the ball up foul. Lions catcher Kamryn Brandt made a quick catch and fired to third for a double play to keep the score tied at 1-1.

“That was huge. That was definitely a huge momentum shift. That was game-changing,” Rementer-Betts said of the double play.

After a scoreless fifth, Fields walked to open the sixth. Smith then drilled a liner into the right-center gap for an RBI triple. With one out, Whiteford grounded a single between first and second to knock home Smith for a 3-1 lead.

Colonel countered with a two-out rally in the bottom of the sixth. Buchanan was hit by a pitch and Tull walked. Marissa Hyland looped a single into shallow center to knock in Buchanan. With runners on first and third, the Colonels then tried to score by getting a runner caught in a rundown between first and second, but it backfired as Tull was tagged out at the plate.

“It was a good game. We expected it to be close. Queen Anne’s has a good team this year. We just didn’t execute some of the small things,” Colonels head coach Brett Ireland said. “It was my fault there in the sixth inning when we got the girl thrown out at the plate. And we couldn’t get a bunt down. I think we got one bunt down. We missed multiple opportunities with a bunt. We popped them up. If we get one bunt down, we get another run for sure. Maybe two, so who knows? But we couldn’t get it down today.”

Against two quality pitchers, both teams struggled getting bunts down.

“We struggled a little bit at the plate today,” Rementer-Betts said. “We didn’t execute our bunts, which left if up to the big stick. You have to be able to advance your runners. Bunt execution is super important. It can make or break a game.

“We’ve got to maintain. We take one game at a time. We’re not overlooking any team,” Rementer-Betts added. “Anything can happen on any given day, but I’m super proud of this team. They’re resilient. They’re strong. And they have a lot of heart.”

Cambridge-SD 5, St. Michaels 2

ST. MICHAELS — Maddie Pleasants (6-4) delivered another outstanding performance, pitching a complete-game four-hitter with eight strikeouts, and providing the crucial blow with a three-run homer as the Vikings improved to 8-4.

Maddie Lednum and Pleasants each went 2 for 4 for Cambridge-SD, and Brooke Windsor doubled.

Jozie Wilson (run) and Stevie Shaak each went 2 for 3 for St. Michaels (7-4, 2-2). Haley Sadler took the loss, pitching all seven innings, allowing three earned runs on four hits. She struck out six and walked one.

N. Caroline 20, Kent County 13

WORTON — Morgan Towers had three hits and three RBIs, and Kattie Hutchison and Lauren Williamson each had three hits and two RBIs, as the Bulldogs raised their record to 2-7, 1-2.

Kolby Downes had three hits for North Caroline, Kiley Macmillan doubled twice, Ashley Blake had two hits and three RBIs, and Jada Allen and Tanya Haro had one hit apiece. Emily Darling earned the win, striking out three over four innings.

Follow me on Twitter @csknauss / email me at cknauss@stardem.com

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