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Panthers believing in 'selves after win

May 13, 2003|by BILL STERNER / Staff Correspondent

HANCOCK - Hancock softball coach Heather Creek believes her Panthers are determined to make a playoff run, and will do it focusing on the things they can do and not the things they can't.

Freshman Adrienne Kesecker held Clear Spring to three hits while fanning seven as the Panthers advanced 6-0 in a Class 1A West quarterfinal Monday.

Hancock will play at Beall today at 4 p.m.

"We found out we can play good defense," Creek said of the Panthers, who were forced to juggle the infield alignment for the game due to injuries. "We know we have decent pitching, so every time out, we focus on the strengths and sort of ignore our weaknesses."

The idea was a hard sell at first, but Creek said the attitude change of the team was evident as the players bought into the philosophy.

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"Right now, the 'W' is what counts," said sophomore Ashley Creek, who finished with two hits, an RBI and two stolen bases.

"I'm happy when we all play well, and today, we all played well."

"We know our hitting could be better, but ... until things start happening there, we will score runs any other way we can."

The Panthers used a combination of aggressive baserunning and patience at the plate to score runs. Hancock scored two runs in the first inning without a hit as the Blazers' Jamie Poffenberger walked Jenna Demory to open the game and then hit Aimee Barton on a 1-2 count. From there, Heather Creek gambled by sending runners from second all the way home on two infield grounders to get the runs in.

The Panthers added runs in the second and third innings on more aggressive running, as Hancock finished with eight steals.

"Everyone on this team is expected to run, to get a base when we need it," Heather Creek said. "We're not really worried about whether you think you can or not."

Kesecker stymied the Blazers' bats, mixing a good off-speed pitch with her drop pitch and fastball. She retired 11 in a row before Jamie Poffenberger singled in the fourth. Poffenberger worked her way to third, but Kesecker got Ashley Mills to line out to short, ending the Blazers' only threat.

"I felt really confident, especially with my drop," Kesecker said. "My teammates played so well behind me that the longer I pitched, the more relaxed I was."

"Kesecker is going to be a good one," Clear Spring coach Rich Poffenberger said. "She changes speeds well and makes good choices out there. ... There is no doubt the best team is moving on."

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