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Hancock shuts out Goretti

May 07, 2003|by BILL STERNER / Staff Correspondent

HANCOCK - The game promised to be one that would highlight two softball teams headed in opposite directions at the end of the season.

Although the outcome was as expected on Tuesday, there were some twists and turns along the way.

St. Maria Goretti pitcher Elena Preston stymied Hancock's offense through three innings but couldn't overcome Katie Golden's strong performance on the mound and some untimely errors in the field as the No. 9 Panthers escaped late with a 5-0 win.

"We did not play well today," Hancock coach Heather Creek said. "But in all honesty, Goretti is playing like a different team."

The Gaels, who dropped the season opener to the Panthers 16-0, showed a marked improvement in the field and at the plate.

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Even though Hancock's Golden was ahead of the Goretti bats most of the day, striking out 10 and walking only two, the Gaels swung at everything to keep the Panthers on their toes throughout the game.

Goretti placed runners in scoring position in the fourth and fifth innings, but Golden was able to wiggle out of trouble.

"This game benefitted Katie today," Creek said. "She threw with confidence and focus.

"Goretti gave her some situations where she had to think and pitch to get out of them."

"Goretti had tremendous confidence in there," Golden said. "But, at this time of the year, we all know what we have to do. Anything less than your best effort can be costly in just a few days."

Creek was quick to add that although the Panthers aren't hitting and scoring the way she would like, she isn't totally unhappy with the product.

"I think the win at Berkeley Springs last Friday gave us a big push in the right direction," Creek said. "If every game is a close game, so be it."

"It's about winning games right now," Hancock catcher Nina Chiaruttinni said. "We don't want to do anything to break our team chemistry. If one of us doesn't get it done, we know someone will."

In fact, since losing on April 25 to Jefferson, Hancock has won five in a row against Southern Fulton, Hedgesville, Clear Spring, No. 10 Berkeley Springs and Goretti.

"We aren't completely happy," Panthers captain Amber Fields said. "But I think we have the confidence we can win every time we go out there."

The Panthers displayed that confidence against the Gaels as they waited patiently to get runners on and then move them around with efficiency. There was no panic at the plate or on the base paths. Best of all, they kept it simple.

Hancock plated two runs in the bottom of the fourth when Chiaruttinni singled, stole second and third and came home on Heather Klinefelter's single to right. Klinefelter then stole second and third and scored on Ashley Creek's slow infield roller with two outs.

The Panthers plated another run in the fifth, as Jenna Demory singled, stole second and third and came home on a passed ball.

"We tell our kids all the time it is a simple game," Creek said. "We only want to think when we have to."

Chiaruttinni was 2-for-3 with three stolen bases for the Panthers.

Lucie Alenchemy and Erin Donaghue each had a hit for the Gaels.

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