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One of the most amazing stories of the year took place on the softball diamond where the Northern softball team captured its fifth straight Class 3A state championship following a 10-0 win over Linganore of Frederick County at the University of Maryland’s Robert E. Taylor Stadium in College Park.

The championship was a state-record fifth straight. Northeast of Anne Arundel County won four Class 2A titles from 1988-1991, while Chesapeake of Anne Arundel County claimed four straight 4A crowns from 1990-93.

“I’m, I’m beyond excited,” said Northern junior catcher Kristina Lozupone afterwards. She squeezed a foul pop-up for the final out. “This is exactly what we’ve been working for the entire season. It’s just such a great feeling knowing that what you worked for paid off.”

The game marked the last in the stellar career of shortstop Lindsey Schmeiser, who would go on to play on the exact same field after signing a scholarship to play softball for the Terrapins with older sister Kaitlyn.

“It definitely holds a special place in my heart because I get to finish on my [future] home turf,” said Schmeiser after the state final win. She would later be named the All-Southern Maryland Athletic Conference Most Outstanding Player.

Northern finished its season a perfect 23-0 overall and has won 53 straight games. Northern won eight of its 23 games this spring in five innings and added 16 shutouts. The most runs it allowed in a game was four to Northeast, a nine-time state champion.

“Unbelievable,” said Northern head coach Robert Earl Radford after the state final. Radford would win All-SMAC Coach of the Year honors. “It’s just not easy. When you graduate [all eight seniors, seven of them starters] you’re thinking, ‘OK, you’re [not] going to get here’ and we got here and never dropped a game and you face some adversity [along the way] and I’m very pleased with the way they responded.”

The Patriots scored in five of seven innings and took advantage of five Linganore errors and all but wrapped up the crown with a six-run fourth inning highlighted by Schmeiser’s two-run single.

Starting pitcher Jess Cummings, who along with Kierstie Schafer were All-SMAC first-team selections, allowed five hits, all singles, and struck out 15 Lancers. She also did not walk anyone.

“I really threw a lot of my rise and then when I they figured that out I went to my change and just kept mixing it up to keep them off balance,” she said afterwards. “I was just trying to throw pitches they couldn’t hit and that turned into strikeouts.”

Cummings threw 99 pitches, 77 of which were strikes. She threw a first-pitch strike to 21 of 25 hitters.

The championship was Northern’s ninth.

“All the people who didn’t think we could do it and win five in a row after losing eight seniors?” Schmeiser asked after the state final win. “Well, you know what? We did.”

MICHAEL REID