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Southern Fulton's lightning zaps McConnellsburg

April 09, 2002|BY BILL STERNER / Staff Correspondent

Staff Correspondent

McCONNELLSBURG, Pa. - When lightning struck the McConnellsburg softball team Monday in its game with cross-county rival Southern Fulton, Spartans coach Craig Elbin knew it was more than just a bad omen.

Because this lightning was of the "two-out" variety.

Southern Fulton's Bethany Mellott blasted a two-out grand slam to left-center in the fifth inning to break open a tight game as the Indians came away with a 12-3 win.

The six-run outburst finally put some breathing room between the Indians and their upstart rivals. For the Spartans, it was another frustrating lesson proving that too many errors and walks can overshadow even a great effort.

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"(Southern Fulton) turned our mistakes into opportunities for themselves," Elbin said. "But I feel as if the score really doesn't indicate how well the game was played."

"It is obvious these two teams are evenly matched," Southern Fulton coach Mike Shade said. "There were no gold glove performances out there either way, but Bethany Mellott's hit was a huge turning point."

And how.

McConnellsburg starter Darcy Everetts did not give up her first hit until the fourth inning, but the Spartans still trailed, 4-3. The resourceful Indians plated runs in the first and second innings by virtue of five Spartan walks and two errors.

All of the free passes seemed to cost McConnellsburg.

In the fourth inning, Everetts walked Candace Bard, the Indians' No. 9 hitter. Leadoff Jenny Liggett drove a 2-2 pitch to deep right-center, scoring Bard. Liggett later came home on a Kelly True sacrifice to shallow left, spotting Southern Fulton to a 6-3 lead.

"We are not really a confident team out there at all times," Elbin said. "I know that comes with time, but in order to win consistently we need to play with confidence all the time."

Everetts, who struck out six on the day, baffled some of the Indians' premier hitters, coaxing several short fly balls and easy infield outs.

She worked her fastball and off-speed pitches well, ringing up four of her strikeouts in the top half of the Indians lineup.

But when Southern Fulton needed the runs, they manufactured them without relying on stringing together base hits.

"I thought we stayed focused, especially on two outs," Shade said. "McConnellsburg is still a young team and young teams are prone to make mistakes. But give them credit, they have come a long way."

In fact, the Spartans hit well in the middle innings, making contact and forcing the Indians to make some better than average plays on the ball. In the second inning, Steph Paylor reached on a single and with two outs and Kelly Johnson drove a hard liner into center field that handcuffed the Mellott. The ball rolled the fence and Johnson came all the way around to score.

"We were ready to swing the bats today," Elbin said. "We knew you couldn't stand in there and wait for walks. I was pleased with how we attacked the ball."

The Spartans added a run in the third on back-to-back singles up the middle.

"They get better and better each game," Shade said. "That fifth inning really did them in."

No. 9 S. Fulton 12, McConnellsburg 3


S. Fulton 130 260 0 - 12 4 2

McConn. 021 000 0 - 3 4 3

True and Bard. Everetts and Skiles. WP - True LP - Everetts. HR - SF: Mellott (5th, three on).

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