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Wildcats girls stay calm, knock off South

May 19, 1999|By BILL STERNER / Staff Correspondent

WILLIAMSPORT - Baseball great Satchel Paige once said, "Never look back, something might be gaining on you."

He may have been referring to the Williamsport Wildcats softball team.

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Williamsport (16-7) overcame a solid pitching performance by South Hagerstown's Allison Higgs and a home run by Emily Middlekauff to lead off the game to squeeze out a 5-3 win in the Class 1A West semifinals Wednesday.

Williamsport pitcher Shannon Smiles picked up the win striking out six and scattering five hits.

"I'll tell you, that is how this team thinks," Wildcats coach Tom Dzur said. "They don't panic when we get behind. They don't seem to care how we got there. They focus on where they want to be."

And focus they did as Williamsport was immediately got in a hole in the first on Middlekauff's leadoff shot to centerfield.

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But Smiles righted the ship and the Wildcats cruised through the next two innings.

Williamsport put multiple baserunners on against the Rebels, but Higgs pitched out of each potential jam until the Wildcats caught up in the third.

With two down and runners on second and third, Niki Leisinger drilled a 2-2 pitch to left scoring both Stephanie Ritchie and Sabrina Welsh. Welsh just slid in under catcher Kari Belin's tag, but it was the aggressive baserunning the Wildcats needed for their spark.

"We had confidence in our runners," Dzur said. "We needed to take a chance and make some things happen. Coach (Mark) Andrews went ahead and took the chance to give us the lead."

But the Rebels (9-13) tied the score at 2-2 in the second as Belin tripled and scored on Carrie Hawbaker's sacrifice fly.

"We knew (South) were a tough bunch and would not quit," Dzur said. "But, we had been in that position before."

Williamsport came back to plate a run in the bottom of the inning, but the Rebels tied the game in the fifth as Ashley Herr tripled and came home on Belin's infield single.

The Wildcats put the game away in the bottom of the sixth with some timely hitting and excellent execution on the basepaths.

With one out, Holly Foulders walked and was replaced on first by Tiffany Palmer. Ritchie's hard single down the left-field line handcuffed third baseman Tif Burns, and Palmer came all the way to third. Welsh doubled into left, scoring Palmer and Ritchie and giving the 'Cats a 5-3 lead.

Smiles retired the Rebels in order in the seventh.

"It is a great group of kids," Dzur said. "They certainly worked hard today."

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