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Sherwood softball earns State Championship – its seventh in 10 years

by Judith Hruz


Severna Park scored first — in the top of the first inning, no less — in the MPSSAA 4A State Softball Championship, which ended about midnight May 28.

Sherwood answered with 13 runs in the bottom of the first inning and dominated the game, bringing home a 21-5 win and the softball team’s seventh state title in 10 years – 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2019 and now 2022.

The Warrior women came into the season knowing they would be competitive if they worked together.

But did they have what it would take to win the state title?

Sherwood lost in the semifinals last year. The season was canceled the year before due to the COVID-19 pandemic. They had last won the state title in 2019.

Coach Ashley Barber-Strunk said to her players: “I can’t want this more than you. I can’t want the championship more than you. You’ve got to tell me what you want, if you want it.”

“We decided we were just going to do our best,” she said. “We wanted to be our best.”

The team won its first two games of the season — an 11-8 win over Urbana and a 10-0 win over Northwest.

Then came an 8-7 loss to Churchill.

“We just weren’t ready to play,” Barber-Strunk said. “They beat us and rightfully so.”

A decision would have to be made: “We had to decide what we wanted,” the coach said.

“So, what are we going to do about this?” the coach said. “We took that and we learned from it.”

And that might be an understatement.

The Sherwood schedule included back-to-back 14-1 wins over Rockville and Paint Branch, back-to-back 20-0 wins over Einstein and Wheaton, a 22-1 win over Blake. The list of punishing wins continued, including a 19-0 win over Churchill two months after that first game.

What happened game after game?

The Warrior softball team “became a family,” Barber-Strunk said. “The players’ work ethic, mindset, cohesiveness – that’s the reason we won states. We became a family. Everyone of that team was valued and appreciated and loved.”

Barber-Strunk is clearly the head of the family, having coached the varsity team since 2013 and junior varsity before that.

Along the way to the 4A State Championship title was another loss – 11-4 to Damascus – but when it was all said and done, the Sherwood softball team posted a regular season record of 13-2, with five more playoff wins.

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