Trojans' run to title errs

Errors doom Chambersburg softball team in quarterfinals

Errors doom Chambersburg softball team in quarterfinals

June 10, 2002|By BOB PARASILITI

LOWER PAXTON TOWNSHIP, Pa. - When Steph VanBrakle takes the mound for the Chambersburg softball team, something unusual happens.

Usually, someone has trouble touching the ball.

That was the case for six of the seven innings of Friday's Pa. Class AAA state quarterfinal at Brightbill Park. VanBrakle's fastball made Neshaminy's batting order look like cruise passengers waving bon voyage.

But in the fourth inning, the only inning the Redskins made contact, it was the Trojans defense which had trouble getting in touch. Chambersburg committed three errors, allowing Neshaminy to score three unearned runs on one hit for a 3-0 victory.

"When a team has a pitcher like (VanBrakle), you know the people behind her aren't getting much work," Neshaminy first-year coach Kathleen Mullins said. "You know something is going to happen if you put the ball in play."


Mullins' theory worked out. Chambersburg was rarely challenged en route to a 26-0 record heading into the quarterfinal.

Rarely challenged, that is, until Friday.

VanBrakle was dominant, striking out nine of the first 10 batters she faced as 32 of the first 40 pitches went for strikes. But then the worst thing happened for Chambersburg.

Melessa Verillo reached out and touched a high fastball, sending a short flyball to left field. Steph Adkins charged in to make the play, but the ball bounced off the heel of her glove for an error.

Jill Benningfield followed with a double to left center field to force Chambersburg's hand. Coach Harvey Staver called a conference and ordered VanBrakle to intentionally walk Molly Dacey, the Redskins' best hitter, to load the bases.

"The intentional pass was the right play. It was a given," Staver said.

Chambersburg brought the infield in to cut the run off at the plate. Allison Nemeth hit a hot two-hopper that B.J. Seilhammer couldn't handle for the second error and Neshaminy's first run.

With one out, Chrissy Gannon tried to squeeze a second run in for the Redskins and popped up to the charging Seilhammer, who made the catch. She turned and tried to double off Benningfield at third base, but her throw went past shortstop Lindsey Tritle and down the left field line to allow the last two runs to score.

"First it was the popup and then they got the hit," VanBrakle said. "Then I had to walk the next girl. I wasn't happy about that.

"They scored one run and that was all right. It was just stuff that happens ... stuff you can't do anything about ...," VanBrakle said as her voice cracked with tears.

VanBrakle's record fell to 18-1 in her high school finale, despite allowing just one hit - Benningfield's double - while striking out 14 of the 18 outs. Outside of the 27-pitch fourth inning, she retired Neshaminy in the other six innings on just 58 pitches, including 44 strikes. Eliminate the intentional walk, and she fired just 10 balls.

Chambersburg managed just four singles against Neshaminy starter Tracy Sylvester and got three runners to second, but never really threatened.

"They were only able to hit us in one inning and the errors hurt us," Staver said. "We have been able to come from behind all year, but we got too far behind. If you can't score, you can't win."

Softball quarterfinals

Neshaminy 3, Chambersburg 0

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VanBrakle and Cook; Sylvester and Dacey. WP - Sylvester. LP - VanBrakle (18-1).

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