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Spartans surrounding - McConnellsburg making softball strides

April 05, 2002|BY DAN SPEARS

If winning is contagious, then losing must be some sort of uncurable disease. At least that's what it's felt like to McConnellsburg softball coach Craig Elbin.

In his fourth season with the Spartans, he's known the wrong side of the scoreboard more and more and more, going 9-50 in his first three seasons.

Until 2002.

Yes, it's only three games, but Thursday night's 12-2 win over Tussey Mountain was the Spartans' third of the year - without a loss.

"This is like coming out of the chemotherapy and getting the clean bill of health," Elbin said.

It's not to say that the Spartans are free and clear yet. They're still young, with no seniors on the roster again this season. They know there's still work to be done.

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But a 3-0 start - the best in the program's 11 seasons - is nothing to be down about. Finally.

"We've never done that before," Elbin said. "We got back and people started asking how we did instead of just assuming we lost."

The biggest part of the turnaround has been the pitching of Darcy Everetts. Always an above-average hitter, Everetts has reined in her potent fastball and helped turn the tide.

"Last year was Darcy's first year on the mound," Elbin said. "She's a true athlete, though. She worked hard over the winter and found out she can control that fastball. And she's still hitting the ball and helping herself. That's been very big for her."

But biggest of all is winning, plain and simple. McConnellsburg's win over the Titans was their first under Elbin, even though they start five sophomores and four juniors.

"They know they can win now," Elbin said. "That's turned it all around."

Monday is what Elbin calls "the real test," against archrival Southern Fulton. But win or lose, Elbin's found a foundation for winning.

"We're still young; we're not out of this yet," he said. "We're going to have bad innings still. But it's a good feeling to win. And good to have all that off your back."

First time for everything

In Clear Spring's 7-4 softball victory over Hancock on Wednesday, the Blazers got a little help from the weather, and the bus driver for the Berkeley Springs baseball team.

With the game tied at 4-4 heading to the seventh inning, the game was stopped for approximately 15-20 minutes, when the Clear Spring bench asked for a delay - because the setting sun was bouncing off a window of the Berkeley Springs bus and blinding players in the batters box.

"They looked around and couldn't find him, so we waited," Hancock coach Heather Creek said. "It was a little frustrating, because (Katie Golden) was throwing pretty well."

After the break, Clear Spring scored three runs in the top of the inning for a 7-4 victory and another frustrating loss in the series for the Panthers.

"I don't know if that was the thing or no," Creek said. "But I just thought, 'We lost to a bus.'"

Directions are on the map

The Frederick softball team should have been sponsored by AAA. The Cadets first three games required a roadtrip to Elkton - two hours by car, even farther by school bus - and Martinsburg.

"South Carroll (today's game) is gonna seem like a trip to TJ after all this," Frederick coach Randy Steiner joked.

Check your eyes

The standings weren't upside down. Yes, that was Walkersville - powerhouses in both sports - near the basement of the Monocacy Valley Athletic League baseball and softball standings on Wednesday morning. Expect that to change in a hurry, but don't be looking for a rise all the way to the top, either.

Both teams faced some of their best competition in the first few conference games, but the Catoctin girls and Boonsboro boys have gotten off to hot starts. The early cushion may already be enough for an MVAL title.

Getting some digits

- Through its first 11 games, the Jefferson baseball team had scored in double-digits eight times - including exactly 11 runs six times.

- It was a good week for revenge in the Apple Valley League. Clear Spring, Berkeley Springs and Martinsburg all got wins this week against teams they had lost to earlier in the season.

Taking it on the chin twice was Musselman, which beat Berkeley Springs in the Gene Baker Tournament title game and the Blazers in an early-season game. The Bulldogs avenged their Baker semifinal loss to the Indians on Wednesday.

Dan Spears is a staff writer for The Herald-Mail. He can be reached at 301-733-5131 ext. 2334 or dans@herald-mail.com

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