Knights cash in on Cougars

April 17, 2002|BY DAN SPEARS

THURMONT, Md. - The Catoctin softball team gambled and lost in the seventh inning Tuesday afternoon against Middletown.

The Cougars tried again in the eighth inning and came up empty. They did it again in the ninth. Finally, the Knights made them pay up in the 10th inning.

No. 5 Middletown scored twice in the top of the third extra frame, then pulled a line out-throw out double play in the bottom half for a 4-2 victory, handing the No. 3 Cougars their first defeat of the season and throwing the Monocacy Valley Athletic League race up in the air.

"We've been doing well right from the start of the season," said Middletown catcher Megan Enders, whose double in the top of the 10th brought in the winning run. "But today, I think we played even better."


Middletown (5-1, 5-1) needed it after Catoctin gave away a couple of opportunities, then couldn't cash in on another.

"My philosophy is to run and to take chances, and the kids know that," Catoctin coach Amy Hunt said. "It's kinda like life. Sometimes, when you don't take chances, you aren't successful."

And also like sometimes in life, Murphy's Law hits you in waves. In the seventh, Jess Valentine represented the winning run at second base with two outs. Crystal Topper singled to center, but Valentine stopped at third and didn't score.

In the eighth, Hunt had Heidi Stull, again the winning run, try to steal third base with one out. But Enders, who's already signed with Division I UConn, gunned her down.

Finally in the ninth, a great pitchers' duel between Middletown's Andrea Riner and Catoctin's Shawna Wilkes was busted.

Middletown loaded the bases with one out, and Shannon Sturtz hit a solid two-run single to center for a 2-0 game.

Catoctin (7-1, 7-1) responded with two of its own, though. Valentine - "She's always scary at the plate," Enders said - ripped a two-run double off the fence in left-center to tie the game, but was nailed lingering too far off second base on a ground ball and was caught in a rundown.

Middletown got two more in the 10th on Enders' double and a fielder's choice RBI by Emily Enders.

"I just knew with two runs in the ninth that we had it," Middletown coach Charlie Toms said. "Then we scored two more in the 10th and I wasn't so sure."

Just like that, Catoctin had runners on second and third with no outs. But Nicole Sweeney's suicide squeeze bunt was exactly that - suicide - when she popped it up and the Knights got an odd-in-the-boxscore 3-6 double play.

"We took a timeout and said, 'Let's put this together and get out of here,'" Megan Enders said. "I trust this team, I really do. Andrea was great in this heat today ... everybody was great today."

Megan Enders finished with two hits for Middletown, which pulled into a tie in the loss column with the Cougars for the league lead. Valentine had three hits for Catoctin.

"It's early," Hunt said. "This game meant something, but it's not the biggest game yet. What I saw today teaches me something, and it teaches the kids, too. We'll learn from this ... that's what'll prepare us for the bigger games."

No. 5 Middletown 4

No. 3 Catoctin 2

Middletown 0000000022-480

Catoctin 0000000020-273

Riner and M. Enders. Wilkes and Valentine. WP-Riner (4-1). LP-Wilkes (7-1).

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