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Leopards steal away a victory from Hubs

April 07, 2003|by DAN KAUFFMAN

kauffman@herald-mail.com

SMITHSBURG - It was all North Hagerstown's softball team could do to work its way out of three bases-loaded jams to stay in front of Smithsburg Friday night. When the Leopards loaded them a fourth time, the Hubs had run out of escapes.

Candice Stanford's bases-loaded double in the bottom of the seventh inning gave Smithsburg a 7-6 Monocacy Valley Athletic League victory the Leopards had to claw away from North.

"Three times, we had the bases loaded, and we couldn't capitalize," Smithsburg coach Brian Getz said. "If we capitalize one of three times, then (the bottom of the seventh) doesn't happen."

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"It's not that they were due," Hubs coach Tia Waltemire said, "it was just, 'was this the inning?' We couldn't carry the momentum the whole way."

But the Hubs came close.

Singles by Amie Hope and Christina Embly gave North a 1-0 lead in the top of the first. Smithsburg (2-2, 2-2) answered in the bottom half on Stanford's RBI triple and Nicki Sier's bloop RBI single for a 2-1 lead.

North came back with three runs in the third to chase Smithsburg starter Amy Miller. Katie Hope's two-run single gave the Hubs a 4-2 lead.

Alyssa Reed relieved Miller and got a strikeout to end the inning. The Leopards then pulled within 4-3 on Annie Brucksch's triple to center and Sier's RBI groundout.

Smithsburg loaded the bases with one out in the fourth, but failed to score. North then padded its lead in the top of the fifth against the harder-throwing Reed on Christine Ennis' two-run bloop single down the right field line.

"They came out and didn't let Alyssa faze them," Waltemire said.

Reed bared down and retired North in order in the sixth and seventh, giving Smithsburg a chance to rally.

Brittany Biser's two-run single in the bottom of the fifth made it a one-run game again, but the Leopards left the bases loaded in the fifth and sixth. Smithsburg stranded 12 total runners.

When it counted most, however, the Leopards got the job done - but not before some controversy.

Julie Weaver led off with a grounder to the left side of the infield. The throw clearly beat Weaver to the bag, but she was ruled safe.

Reed followed with a clean single. Weaver took third on the play, and Reed moved to second on the throw. Miller then walked to load the bases, bringing No. 3 hitter Stanford to the plate.

"The kids were hollering 'home run!,'" Getz said, "and I got Candace's attention and told her, 'contact.'"

On an 0-2 pitch, Stanford ripped a liner to the left-field gap, scoring Weaver and Reed with the tying and winning runs.

"I had three people out there, and I wanted to bring all three of them in," Stanford said. "It was a team effort. We came out in the sixth and seventh innings and took it to them."

When asked about the bad call to open the bottom of the seventh, Waltemire took the high road.

"Even then, the score may have been tied," Waltemire said. "You can't blame it on the umps. Smithsburg, they never gave up. ... I couldn't be more proud of the girls. This is the North team everyone needs to see. We haven't been this good in a while."

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