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Spartans get better

Indians remain best

March 31, 1999|By DAN SPEARS

WARFORDSBURG, Pa. - McConnellsburg pitcher Jamie Morton fielded the bunt by Southern Fulton's Heather Smartt cleanly.

But she took too long to look Tia Hixon back to third base. As Morton's throw was not in time to get Smartt, Hixon raced for the plate and slid in safely under the tag.

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The right ideas were there for the Spartans in a 13-2 loss to the No. 5 Indians on Wednesday in the Sideling Hill League, they're just not polished off yet.

"We knew they'd be aggressive," Spartans coach Craig Elbin said. "But when it's something you've never seen before, it's hard to simulate it in practice. We'll learn from that."

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On Wednesday, they learned from the masters. Three-time defending league champions, the Indians won their season opener in five innings despite the absence of head coach Brown Cutchall, whose father died earlier in the week.

"I think maybe we were pressing a little because they wanted to win one so bad for him," assistant coach Mike Shade said. "But give them (McConnellsburg) credit. They've got a new coach and a young team, but they weren't intimidated at all."

The Spartans (1-2, 0-1) didn't back down despite facing Michelle Golden, who struck out eight and walked none. She had several lengthy at-bats to fight through - including a 10-pitch battle with Tracey Hollinshead - but won them all.

"She may not have had the speed that she usually does," Shade said. "But her control today was great, and she had that out pitch working."

Then, to top things off, she crushed a two-run homer to dead center field that capped a six-run fifth inning and the game.

Southern Fulton had a 3-0 lead in the first, and added four more in the fourth thanks to solid bunting and daring baserunning that led to hurried decisions by the Spartans.

"Unless you know what's coming at you, you're going to be razzled," Elbin said. "Our goal today was not to get 10-runned, and we didn't make that. But we hope it's just a matter of time before we play up to their level."

Southern Fulton got three hits from Melody Smartt and two each from Heather Smartt, Amy Fischer and Golden.

"He (Elbin) has them making the right moves. Once they make the plays, they'll be tough," Shade said. "Today, we had some of those first-game jitters, and it's been a tough week. But for our first game, I'm pleased."

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