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Cougars put it together in final

May 20, 2002|BY DAN SPEARS

dans@herald-mail.com

THURMONT, Md. - For the first time in a while on Friday afternoon, the curveball of Catoctin softball pitcher Shawna Wilkes had drop.

For the first time in a while, her team's attitude did not.

Put together, the Cougars rose to the occassion in the Class 1A South final against Poolesville, dominating every facet of the game for a 5-0 victory and their fourth straight trip to the state tournament next week.

"You could tell from the first pitch in warmups today," Catoctin coach Amy Hunt said. "Things were different out there today."

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The Cougars, despite being the region's top seed, sleepwalked through the end of the regular season - losing two of four games - and their first playoff game against Brunswick. But Wilkes' wicked drop-curve and change-up provided a wake-up call for everyone involved.

"The drop-curve, that was the one," catcher Jess Valentine said. "But she doesn't usually throw it in warmups."

"Sometimes it's on, sometimes it's off," said Wilkes, who struck out 14 and allowed a bloop single in the fifth inning for a one-hitter. "I'm lucky on the days it does work."

Luck wasn't involved, however, when it came to hitting for Catoctin (19-4). Leadoff batter Nicole Sweeney, known primarily for her bunting, sent the first pitch from Poolesville's Crystal Dillon into center field to start the onslaught.

"The flow of the game seemed to be with us," Hunt said. "We just kinda went with it."

Some fine fielding from the Indians kept Catoctin off the board until the third inning, when the Cougars loaded the bases with one out. Dillon got a pop-up for the second out, but her defense finally let down on the next play.

Cam Jensen's wild-hopper to third base went through Jamie Morningstar's legs to score one run, and Valentine followed with a double to the fence to score two more for a 3-0 lead.

"We went a lot to right field the first time," Valentine said. "As soon as we got around on (Dillon), we got the gaps. That's what we needed."

The Cougars finished their scoring in the fourth on a pair of Poolesville errors, caused when they hit hard shots that the Indians' fielders simply couldn't handle. Wilkes took over from there, striking out five of her last eight batters.

Those earlier letdowns? All gone now.

"I think something happened to us," Hunt said. "And thank goodness."

Catoctin 5, Poolesville 0

Poolesville 0000000-014

Catoctin 003200x-5111

Dillon and Gost. Wilkes and Valentine. WP-Wilkes (13-4). LP-Dillon.

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