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Martinsburg softball defends crown in Kamensky's final game

May 16, 2001

Martinsburg softball defends crown in Kamensky's final game



By DAN SPEARS

dans@herald-mail.com

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Stanley and Riner. Anderson and Slaughter. WP-Anderson (10-3). LP-Stanley (6-4).



MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - Tuesday night's storyline in the Class AAA Region II semifinals at Charlotte Prather Park was this: The Martinsburg softball team played to keep its season going. Musselman tried to make sure its season - and the tenure of coach Carol Kamensky - wouldn't be over.

Like all good stories, this one had a climactic end. Just not the one the Applemen wanted.

The Bulldogs saved their best defense for last, throwing out a runner at the plate in the sixth inning and making three spectacular plays in the seventh. They sealed a 4-2 victory, earned a repeat trip to the regional final and ended Kamensky's 25-year run in south Berkeley County.

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"Somebody said this was her last game," Martinsburg coach Mike Mackey said. "They had a lot to play for and played extremely well. ... But pitching and defense have done it for us all year. They did it again tonight."

Musselman (17-13) used the same formula, and nearly pulled off its second playoff upset of the Bulldogs (21-6, No. 2 Herald-Mail poll) in three seasons. The Applemen threw out two runners at home and one at third to back Jen Stanley, who allowed only three hits after the first inning.

"Everything we did tonight was for (Kamensky)," a teary-eyed Stanley said. "I did all I could do with the location and hoped the team would back me up."

Martinsburg got three runs in the first inning on five hits, but were silenced the rest of the way. A gutty running play by Lawren Scales and a wild throw into left field in the fifth made it 4-2 and set up the final two harrowing innings for the Bulldogs.

"That was big," Scales said. "Two years ago they beat us. ... We were looking forward to getting rid of (that memory)."

In the 1999 regional semis, the Applemen took advantage of some big Martinsburg errors and got all the clutch hits for its first trip to the state semifinals.

"I brought out the pictures from that night," Kamensky said. "These kids are so young, I wanted them to see all that excitement."

In Musselman's last attempt to return there under Kamensky, though, it was the Bulldogs with everything picture perfect.

With runners on second and third with one out in the sixth, Musselman's Annie Cochran laid down a bunt that was picked up by pitcher Christee Anderson, who looked Kasee Gent back to third. She threw late to first, where Cochran was safe, but Tabi Merceruio gunned the ball home to nail Kent, whose path to the plate was blocked by catcher Kim Slaughter.

"At first we were down because of that," Stanley said. "Then we knew we had to work harder."

That work was all for naught. Leading off the seventh, Amanda Shanholtz faked a bunt to draw in the defense, then sent a screamer at Scales' head at third, which she plucked out of midair. Anderson followed by spearing a shoetop line drive and Michelle Scales ended the game with a one-handed catch along the fence in foul ground.

"People had said defense was our weak point, and I'm a part of that, so I took a little offense," Lawren Scales said. "We played pretty well tonight. ... On that one, I was surprised, but the reflex was pretty much to save my face."

The Bulldogs saved face all right, enough to play University at home Friday in the region final.

The Applemen, meanwhile, had no reason to hide their faces despite the tears. Afterward, Kamensky huddled her team, where they reminisced and recapped for the final time.

Yet after a quarter of a century, and thousands of questions, Kamensky needed only two words to describe her final decision on the diamond ...

"Good game."

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