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Improved Blazers win own tourney

April 20, 2003|by BILL STERNER / Staff Correspondent

CLEAR SPRING - A famous coach was once fond of saying that a destination was never as exciting as the trip that led to it.

First year Clear Spring softball coach Rich Poffenberger can relate to that.

Three weeks ago, the Blazers seemingly couldn't get out of their own way. On Saturday afternoon, they were collectively looking for enough room to fit everyone into the championship picture of the Clear Spring Easter Tournament.

Senior pitcher Jamie Poffenberger hurled a four-hitter while her defense played flawlessly after a shaky first inning as the Blazers made an early outburst hold up, beating North Hagerstown 8-4 for the title.

"A few weeks ago, there wasn't a mistake to be made in softball that we hadn't made," Rich Poffenberger said. "Now, we pride ourselves on our fundamentals."

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Poffenberger was the picture of consistency in both games the Blazers played, including a first-round 16-6 dismissal of Boonsboro. She rarely got behind on a hitter and relied on a persistent fastball.

"I'm not an overpowering pitcher," Jamie Poffenberger said. "I tried to keep the ball around the plate and make the hitters work.

"If they put it in play, I'm confident in the players backing me up."

"We just ask Jamie to keep it around the plate, throw strikes," Rich Poffenberger said.

Both Poffenbergers must have wondered when, leading 6-0 in the bottom of the first inning, the first three Hubs runners reached on errors. North scored three runs as a result of the mistakes.

"I knew North could hit the ball hard," Jamie Poffenberger said. "But I had my confidence. We just kept working. I made up my mind I wasn't going to struggle."

Both pitchers settled down after the first inning.

North's Amanda Wolfe, whose five first-inning walks resulted in most of the Blazers' six runs, began working the outside corner.

Wolfe retired 11 batters in a row before giving up Jamie Poffenberger's single in the fourth.

"It was hard for her to adjust to the difference in umpiring," North coach Tia Waltemire said. "Both umps called the plate their own way. I think when Amanda adjusted, she did a great job."

"I thought Wolfe threw the ball very well," Rich Poffenberger said. "We got that advantage early on and we played hard enough for it to stand up."

The Blazers scored their last run in the sixth, as Tawnya Blair reached on a walk and later scored on Jamie Poffenberger's hard shot to the shortstop.

"We need to hit the ball. If there is one thing that sticks out, that is it," Waltemire said. "We need to hit with some authority and have confidence at the plate."

n In the consolation game, Williamsport scored 12 runs in the first two innings, sending 14 hitters up in the second, to outdistance Boonsboro 16-6 in a five-inning game.

The Wildcats had eight hits in the first two innings - six in the second inning alone - to give Williamsport starter Nina Crist some breathing room.

But a Boonsboro outburst which plated five runs in the second inning chased Crist in favor of Courtney Hutchinson, who finished the game for the Wildcats.

Hutchinson settled in and held the Warriors to three hits over the final three innings.

Jessie Hammersla took the loss for Boonsboro.

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