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Late rally lifts 'Dogs

April 25, 2003|by BILL STERNER / Staff Correspondent

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - Sophomore Jessica Stocker was in one of those frustrating slumps.

It wasn't that Martinsburg's second baseman couldn't hit. It was more like she wouldn't hit.

"Slumps can really work on a player's confidence," Bulldogs coach Mike Mackey said.

Mackey kept encouraging Stocker, telling her that being a No. 9 hitter meant she was simply her team's "second" leadoff hitter. Finally, the patience paid off.

Stocker clubbed a two-out, two-strike pitch over the shortstop to score Bridget Merceruio with the winning run in the bottom of the seventh inning as No. 5 Martinsburg stunned Hedgesville 9-8 Thursday night at Charlotte Prather Park.

"I'm not the best hitter," Stocker said. "But it was exciting to break my lull in this situation."

Down 8-6 and down to its final three outs, Martinsburg had the heart of the order coming to the plate. Hedgesville coach Larry Laing pulled freshman Jenny Finafrock - who, along with freshman Emily Cunningham, settled down after allowing six runs on five hits and three walks in the first inning - in favor of junior pitcher Ashley Boarman.

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Boarman walked Bohrer to open the inning after being up 1-2 in the count, then hit Stephanie Harrold on the foot after pushing the Bulldogs' cleanup hitter to 0-2. Merceruio followed with a perfect bunt in front of home plate to load the bases.

Sophomore Katie Holton then lined a single to left, scoring Bohrer and Harrold to tie the game at 8-8 and set up Stocker's heroics.

"That is pretty much the story of our season," Mackey said. "Start out fast, sort of ease through the bad times and finish strong. ... We really didn't play that well individually tonight, but as a team, we did the things we had to do to make it right."

After the fast start, the Bulldogs snoozed through five straight innings, getting just one hit - a double in the third inning by Allie Bohrer. But the Eagles never really felt comfortable in the lead.

"Once those things started snowballing on us in that last inning, there was very little we could do to stop it," Laing said.

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