It was Emily Talbert's day.
The sophomore pitcher led Hagerstown Community College to a twinbill sweep of the College of Southern Maryland Hawks to open Maryland JUCO play.
In the first game, Talbert — a Williamsport graduate — finished 3-for-4 at the dish with a trio of doubles and drove in four runs to back her own 16-strikeout performance in the circle en route to a 8-3 victory.
In the nightcap she launched a two-run home run as part of a five-inning 8-0 victory.
"Emily Talbert was incredibe today. That was probably the best all-around game I have ever seen her have," HCC coach Jenna Knable said. "As a team, we came out ready to play today and they worked hard and made the adjustments they needed."
Entering play on Wednesday, Talbert had racked up 33 strikeouts in 26 innings during HCC's eight-game trip to Myrtle Beach, S.C.
"My riseball was really working today," Talbert said. "That's usually what it is for me."
Talbert's dominance started early when the first three batters went down on strikes.
In the bottom of the first, Talbert doubled home Lily Oliver (Spring Mills) with two outs for the first run of the game, then set down three more on strikes in the top of the second.
In the bottom of the third, Oliver reached on a single. Two batters later, Oliver reached second on a passed ball and scored on an errant throw by Southern Maryland's shortstop giving HCC (8-2) a 2-0 advantage.
Talbert (2-1) allowed her first hit of the game in the top of the fourth but got out of the inning by inducing a popout to Oliver at second.
The Hawks added another run for a 3-0 lead in the bottom half of the frame. Cierra Beaver (Williamsport) singled to left and was replaced by courtesy runner Ashley Bachtell (Williamsport). Bachtell stole second then scored on a Madalyn Kershner (Smithsburg) double to center field.
In the bottom of the fifth, Maddi Renn (Williamsport) singled with one out. Talbert followed by ripping a line-drive double into left to score Renn.
The only blemish in Talbert's stellar pitching performance came in the top of the sixth, when she began to struggle with her command.
Rachel Polk walked to lead off the inning. After Talbert battled back for consecutive strikeouts, Kaitlyn Culbert reached on an infield single. Haylee McClanahan sent the next pitch over the left-center field fence for a three-run home run to trim HCC's lead to 5-3. Talbert finished the frame with a four-pitch strikeout.
The Hawks answered with a three-run inning of their own in the bottom half of the frame to put the game out of reach. Kershner and Maddy McDonough (Clear Spring) had back-to-back one out singles, then Lily Oliver worked a walk to load the bases. Renn hit a sacrifice fly to score Kershner, then Talbert laced a two-run double to left making it 8-3.
In the nightcap, the teams played to a pitchers duel for the first half of the game. HCC took a 2-0 lead in the bottom of the first on a fielder's choice with the bases loaded to score McDonough, and a wild pitch three pitches later scoring Lily Oliver.
The Hawks loaded the bases with two outs against Southern Maryland (0-2) starter Lindsey Wood in the bottom of the second after McDonough was hit by a pitch, but Wood got a lineout to escape the jam.
In the top of the fourth, Beaver — who plays third base when not pitching — snagged a line drive back up the middle without a flinch.
"I've got pretty quick reflexes," Beaver said. "It was pretty much catch it or eat it. I prefer to catch it."
HCC rallied for four runs in the bottom of the fourth for a 6-0 lead. Kaitlin Wolfe (South Hagerstown) led off the inning with a slap single down the right-field line. Bachtell then reached on an error on a sacrifice bunt attempt. Following a flyout that allowed Wolfe and Bachtell to advance, Lily Oliver hit a groundball to short. The throw went to the plate and was late, allowing Wolfe to score and Bachtell to take third while Lily Oliver pulled into second.
Renn followed with a sacrifice fly then Talbert launched a two-run home run to center field to cap the inning.
"Nine times out of 10 I don't recognize the pitch. If it's there, I swing at it," Talbert said. "It's great because it's not just me that hits. It's everyone in the lineup."
McDonough walked it off in the bottom of the fifth via the mercy rule with a two-run double to left scoring Wolfe and Bachtell who reached on a single and fielder's choice respectively. McDonough's game-ending double gave Beaver (3-0) a five-inning complete game shutout.
"My defense did really good behind me and if they play good, it picks me up," Beaver said. "My curveball was working today. It was really breaking to the outside of the plate and I was hitting my spots."
With a big weekend ahead as part of a round-robin tournament the Hawks are hosting at Kemps Mill Park in Williamsport, can Talbert top what she did on Wednesday? She was advised not to change her socks.
"I'm superstitious so I probably won't," she said with a laugh.