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Panthers catch up on Gaels

April 23, 1998|By DAN SPEARS

Heidi Moats really wanted to pitch.

But when Hancock softball coach Kim Horvath said she needed Moats more behind the plate to catch, she went there willingly.

Wednesday, Horvath certainly made the right call for the No. 10 Panthers, as Moats had three hits, drove in three runs and threw out two crucial runners in the fifth inning of an 11-6 victory over St. Maria Goretti.

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"Heidi played in every game last year as a freshman, and she gained a lot of experience through that and summer league," Horvath said. "She keeps Beth (Sterner, the team's freshman pitcher) in the game, and she doesn't have too many steals against her."

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Goretti coach Jim Martin said Moats' hits in the late innings hurt a lot more because of the inability of the Lady Gaels (3-11) to get the bottom of Hancock's order out.

Goretti's Hannah Chambers struggled early, walking eight batters in the first three innings, including No. 6-7 hitters Christi Barnard and Alicia Courtney twice each.

"When you don't get the outs you think you should, you're going to be in trouble," Martin said. "That set the table for the top of the order to drive them all in."

Goretti was up 2-0 after one before Hancock (8-4) took a lead it would not relinquish in the second. Chambers sandwiched four walks around a popped-up Panther bunt, and had two runners come home on wild pitches before Jamie Demory stole home when Chambers had her back turned. Sterner finished the inning off with a run-scoring fielder's choice.

"They're getting a lot more selective up there," Horvath said. "They're getting better at making good choices at the plate, and it showed today."

After single runs by Hancock in the third and fourth, Goretti rallied for three runs in the fourth, and could have had more. But when Kerstyn Haram was narrowly hit on a wild pitch with runners on second and third and two outs, Martin knew his team was in trouble.

"That was the turning point," Martin said. "If she's not hit, we score on the wild pitch to tie the game. I thought it was going to be hard coming back from that."

He proved right after Anna Patronski grounded out to Fleming, the last of her six straight assists for the Panthers.

Then Moats finished off the Gaels. Her two-run single with two outs in the fifth gave Hancock a 9-6 lead, and she threw out two runners trying to steal second base in the bottom of the inning to shut down Goretti's last threat. Moats also had an RBI triple in the seventh.

Freshman Julie Bockrath had three hits for Goretti, and just missed a fourth on Monica Fox's running catch to end the game.

"Each time we've gotten a little bit better against them," Martin said. "We're staying in the game longer now, but we just didn't get the right people out."

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