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South seniors still seek to fulfill promise

May 19, 1998|By MARK KELLER

Four years ago, seven seniors at South Hagerstown High School made a promise to one another.

As freshmen, these seven girls vowed to win a state softball title before they graduated. Today, they stand two steps away from achieving that goal.

"It was in our heart. It was always there," said Tia Waltemire. "If you dream it, you can do it."

The Rebels (15-9) face St. Michaels in the Class 1A State Semifinals at Randazzo Softball Park in Severn today at 3 p.m. The winner advances to Friday's championship game.

South defeated Clear Spring 7-3 Saturday in the 1A West Final to get to where it now stands. But the Rebels, and this senior class, have been pointing in this direction all along.

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Two years ago, when the current seniors were sophomores, the Rebels reached the Class 2A West semifinals despite winning just three games. They lost to Walkersville, 1-0.

Last year, they advanced to the region finals, where they lost 15-4 to Middletown.

"Everything started to come together last year. We just didn't get it done," said Stacey Zeger. "We wanted to make a stand this year for who we are."

"We knew we had the talent. We just put it all together this year," Charlene Kane said.

So much in high school softball depends on a team's pitcher, and in Waltemire and Zeger, South has a competent 1-2 punch.

"They have two totally different styles, but they set each other up so well," said coach Sabrina McCoy. "Tia has a drop, a drop-curve and two different changeups. She's very good at placement. Stacey is more of a power pitcher. She has a natural rise and can use the change. They know how to mix their pitches."

McCoy began alternating Waltemire and Zeger in the starting role early in the season. She said Waltemire will likely start today, with Zeger providing relief if necessary. That setup works just fine with the pitchers and their teammates.

"We all know that our pitchers can stick it in there," said Kristen Harne. "(Waltemire) has junk and (Zeger) has speed. If one of them is off, the other one brings it back."

Facing a team they have never seen before doesn't pose a problem for the Rebels. In fact, they insist it makes preparing for the game easier than if they were playing a Walkersville or Middletown.

"Not knowing their batting order or what their pitchers are like ... it keeps everybody on their toes," Kane said.

"You just play straight up. You go out and play them like you are playing Walkersville or Middletown," McCoy said. "That's how we're going into it. We're preparing for any and every situation."

St. Michaels (13-6) defeated Snow Hill to win the 1A East title. Coach Theresa Vener said her team has played "a lot of 2A schools", much like the Rebels have in the Monocacy Valley Athletic League.

Vener said she also has two pitchers, both of whom throw "a lot of junk."

"We have some strong hitters, too. But our pitching has been strong the last three games," Vener said.

Being so close to fulfilling their goal, the South seniors insist they are not looking beyond this game to the championship. They say they've come much too far to change their "one game at a time" philosophy now.

But should they win today, the seniors said they'll celebrate the same way they celebrated their win over Clear Spring - by dousing McCoy and assistant coach Debbie Hamby with a cooler full of ice water.

"We'll find one somewhere," Zeger said.

That's a promise.

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