Rebels remember, rise again

May 17, 1998|By MARK KELLER

by Joe Crocetta / staff photographer

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Three years ago, the South Hagerstown JV softball team had a great season, losing only one game.

That loss came at the hands of Clear Spring, and the seniors on this year's Rebels squad had not forgotten.

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"We waited for this game since our freshman year, so we were really happy that we drew them," said South pitcher Stacey Zeger. "This was the game we wanted."

And the Rebels went out and got it, staking Zeger to a three-run lead in the first and going on to beat the Blazers 7-3 in the Class 1A West final Saturday at South.


South (15-9) will play the 1A East champion in the Maryland State Semifinals at Randazzo Softball Park in Severn at 3 p.m. Tuesday.

Zeger kept the Blazers guessing at the plate, mixing a wicked off-speed pitch with her fast ball to record 11 strikeouts and scatter seven hits. She also had two hits and an RBI.

"I was kind of nervous since I was pitching. I didn't want to let the team down," Zeger said.

The Rebels jumped on Clear Spring pitcher Jocelyn Price from the start. Emily Middlekauff led off with a single, but was forced out on a Zeger grounder. Kristen Harne reached on an error and both runners advanced on a fly out.

Dee Ecton reached on an error, scoring Zeger and Harne. Carrie Keller singled to drive in Ecton and give South a 3-0 lead.

Clear Spring (19-4) had its opportunities, but the Blazers simply couldn't drive in their baserunners. They had eight batters reach base in the first three innings, none of which scored. Clear Spring stranded six runners in that span and 11 in the game.

"We didn't hit in the clutch today. We left far too many runners on base," said Clear Spring coach Drew Michael. "Give South High credit. They capitalized. We made a couple of errors and they capitalized."

Clear Spring scored a run in the top of the fifth on a Suzy Ernst sacrifice fly. But South answered with two in the bottom of the inning. Middlekauff had a one-out double and Zeger followed with a bunt single. Zeger went halfway down the baseline toward second and stopped, inducing a rundown. While Zeger dashed back to an open first base, Middlekauff scored for a 4-1 lead. Zeger later scored on a single by Harne.

"It takes a while for them to know when to do that," South coach Sabrina McCoy said of Zeger's baserunning. "That's not something we can tell them when to do it. It has to be instinct."

Clear Spring mounted a challenge in the top of the seventh. Trailing 7-1, Price singled, moved to second on an error and went to third on a wild pitch. Beth McCusker walked and Ernst followed with an RBI single.

Missy South walked with one out to load the bases and Jennifer Mentzer got a two-out walk to score McCusker. But Zeger struck out pinch hitter Terri Swope to end the game and clinch the title.

"(Zeger) admitted she was getting tired in the fifth inning. But she worked hard and stayed focused," McCoy said. "I went out to the mound (in the seventh inning) and said, 'If you want this, show me you want it.'"

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