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Cougars experience a victory

May 22, 2002|BY DAN SPEARS

dans@herald-mail.com

SEVERN, Md. - Even though its experiences at the state tournament haven't been all good over the last four seasons, the Catoctin softball team had at least gotten them.

Tuesday in the Class 1A semifinals, it showed.

The wily Cougars took advantage of a young, emotional team from North East early, then added insurance late for a 5-2 victory that puts them one step away from the second title in school history.

Catoctin plays defending state champion Southern Garrett at 6 p.m. Thursday at Randazzo Park. The Rams (20-1) ousted St. Michaels 4-0 in the other semifinal.

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"We've been working on more pressure situations so we don't make the same mistakes down here," senior center fielder Nicole Sweeney said. "The past couple times we've come down here, we haven't exactly won a lot."

Catoctin (20-4) may only have four seniors, but its big-stage cool showed early, as the Cougars used two hits, a walk and two big errors on North East's freshman second baseman Kim Coleman for a 4-0 lead.

"I think the other team was nervous," Catoctin coach Amy Hunt said. "But just like our last game, we were pretty loose before the game and we hit them hard."

"We jumped on them early and did what we needed to do," junior pitcher Shawna Wilkes said. "It kinda helped us ease through the rest of the game."

The Indians (13-9) started four freshmen and two sophomores, many of them showing their frustration on called strikes and bad swings with a roll of the eyes or a stomp of the ground.

The Cougars, meanwhile, put on their poker-faces as they struggled. Catoctin's bats went silent in the middle innings as North East pitcher Mary Abrams found her groove. Wilkes fought her control and a tight strike zone, but never showed her frustration on the mound.

"I try not to let it bug me," Wilkes said. "I've got to keep the team up, ... I just kept positive."

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Her teammates bailed her out. In the fifth, North East used a walk, two singles and a groundout to get on the board, and Jess Bensley's single to left made it 4-2.

But on the play, Cregger threw the ball to third baseman Cam Jensen and kept the Indians' Adrienne Ferrazo at third. Bensley tried to sneak into second behind the play, but Jensen threw a strike to second base, where Heidi Stull caught the ball, blocked the bag and tagged out Bensley to end the inning.

"I would think (our experience helped)," Hunt said. "We haven't had that happen in a game yet this year, so I'm glad they saw it. Cam wasn't nervous and gunned it."

Catoctin added insurance in the seventh on back-to-back doubles by pinch-hitter Meghan Eyler and Sweeney for a 5-2 game, more than enough room to get into Thursday's championship game.

"It's my fourth year here," Sweeney said. "So we might as well go home with (a state title)."

Catoctin 5, North East 2

Catoctin 4000001-550

North East 0000200-272

Wilkes and Valentine. Abrams and Deel. WP-Wilkes (14-4). LP-Abrams (13-9).

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