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Cougars pop up with winning rally after 6th

April 09, 1999|By DAN SPEARS

SMITHSBURG - With the bases loaded, Catoctin catcher Kristen Abbott popped up to third base to end the top half of the sixth inning on Thursday afternoon.

Cougars coach Sue Weaver - almost - couldn't have been happier.

Because even without a base hit, Abbott had worked a 12-pitch at-bat off Smithsburg's Lauren Reed. As it turned out, that was all Reed had left, and Catoctin put up a six-run seventh for an 8-0 victory in the Monocacy Valley Athletic League.

With an 0-2 count on Abbott, the adventure began. Six foul balls and three pitches out of the strike zone later, it was over - about six pitches too late for Smithburg coach Doug Bachtell.

"That was probably the best at-bat of the day for either team, and nine of them were great pitches: on the corner, change-ups," Bachtell said. "We got her out, but ... Lauren ran out of gas, and when you do that against a good team, they're going to take advantage."

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The at-bat, even though unsuccessful on the scoreboard, was a welcome sight to the Cougars (3-2, 3-2).

"She (Abbott) was hitting them hard, and she's been struggling lately, so this is nice," Weaver said. "She came up, and they took time. She looked nervous. All I said was, 'Look confident.' That's half the battle."

By then, the war was almost over. Catoctin got six hits in the seventh - including back-to-back-to-back RBI hits by Jen Weaver, Steph Dewees and Kerri West - and used three throwing errors by Smithsburg (1-5, 1-5) for six runs.

"It was a great game for six innings," Bachtell said. "But they're the best all-around team we've faced this year. They're a well-disciplined, well-mannered team."

The rude treatment of the hosts in the seventh ruined a great pitching duel between Reed and Catoctin's Jamie Hertel, who was masterful around the corners of the plate while retiring 19 of the last 20 batters she faced. She struck out four (three looking), and worked the umpire's preference for a low inside strike to full advantage.

"I thought eventually he'd get it," Hertel said with a smile.

"In the first inning, she was a little frustrated," Weaver said. "But she came out after the inning, and I asked, 'Did you figure out what he likes?' She said yes."

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