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Bulldogs going where they want to go

May 21, 2001

Bulldogs going where they want to go



Martinsburg beats University 5-1 for trip to state tournament

By DAN SPEARS

dans@herald-mail.com



W. Va. Class AAA Region II Title

Martinsburg 5

University 1

University0001000-122

Martinsburg100220x-582

Cayton and Adams. Merceruio and LeMaster. WP-Merceruio (12-0). LP-Cayton.



MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - It was a catch worthy of some serious celebration. Especially since Heather Bell's on-the-run shoestring grab wrapped up Martinsburg's second straight Class AAA Region II championship, a 5-1 victory over University Friday night at Charlotte Prather Park.

Instead, the Bulldogs looked like they honestly had someplace else they needed to be. And they do - Veterans Memorial Park in Summersville for the state tournament on Thursday.

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"This was an important win for us," said Martinsburg pitcher Tabi Merceruio, who struck out 10 in a two-hitter. "But yes, the biggest goal is the state tournament."

The Bulldogs (22-6, No. 2 Herald-Mail poll) mowed through this one in workmanlike fashion, getting a run in the first and then figuring out University pitcher Whitney Cayton for four runs on their second and third time through the order.

"We knew we had to play well to win," Martinsburg coach Mike Mackey said. "But I'll tell you what, we really came out and finished them off today."

Merceruio took care of the pitching, shortstop Jen Canby took care of the defense and Bell and Christee Anderson finished up for the offense.

After University tied the game on an unearned run in the fourth, Martinsburg struck right back. Anderson led off with a double into the corner, went to third on Kim Slaughter's single and scored when the ball was bobbled in the outfield.

Then Bell stepped up and ripped a triple down the third-base line for a 3-1 game.

"We had two outs, and I always hate being the last out of an inning," Bell said. "She threw a strike, and then that pitch, I swung and hit it."

That's something the Hawks couldn't do against Merceruio.

"Coach says I play to the level of my competition," Merceruio said with a sly grin. "The more competition, the more the ball seems to move for me."

Now, the Bulldogs hope the ball bounces right for them in the state tournament. Last season, an undefeated and nationally ranked Martinsburg team was shown the door with two quick losses.

"Now we know what to expect," Merceruio said. "We've been down there before."

Coming back with the hardware this time ... well, that would be worth a celebration.

"We've progressed. The first time we won this, it was the water coolers and everything," Mackey said. "This time, we had a goal and we went out and accomplished it. ... This group is much more businesslike, but they're so relaxed."

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