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Catoctin grounded in softball semis

May 21, 2003|by ANDREW MASON

andrewm@herald-mail.com

SEVERN, Md. - The final play of Catoctin's 4-2 nine-inning loss to Rising Sun in the Maryland Class 1A state softball semifinals at Randazzo Softball Park seemed to leave a worst taste in the Cougars' mouths than the final score.

With Catoctin trailing 4-2 with the bases loaded and two outs in the bottom of the ninth inning, Shawna Wilkes grounded to Tigers second baseman Nikki Karashin. The ball arrived to Karashin about the same time Sara Wastler, who was running to second, leveled her to the ground.

"I was just going for the ball," Karashin said, "and next thing I knew my head bounced off the ground."

Karashin laid in the dirt, grimacing in pain and unable to make a play, as Cougars Heidi Stull and Alecia Brandenburg both crossed the plate to apparently tie the game - all before the field umpire ruled runner's interference on Wastler for the third and game's final out.

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Catoctin's side of the diamond was left with nothing but disbelief. This wasn't how the Cougars, who entered the game 21-0 on the verge of their second-straight finals appearance, wanted to go down.

"It's one thing to lose, but to lose that way is heart-wrenching," said Catoctin coach Amy Hunt. "In my opinion, I wouldn't have called it. In my opinion, I didn't even think the girl could make the play. (Wilkes) was almost at first when contact was made. ... Hopefully it was a legit call and the umps were unbiased and doing what they think is right."

"It's a disappointing ending," said Wilkes. "It's just disappointing all around."

After Catoctin capitalized on Rising Sun shortstop Sherry Matthews' throwing error for the game's first two runs in the bottom of the fourth inning, Wilkes - who had only allowed one earned run all season - appeared to be headed to her 16th win of the year.

Through five innings, Wilkes pitched a one-hit shutout with six strikeouts and a walk, as no Tiger advanced past first.

But that all changed in the sixth, as Rising Sun (15-4) rallied to tie the game, 2-2, on three hits - including a double by Sarah Marstellar and an RBI single by Karashin - and an error.

Meanwhile, Tigers pitcher Lindsay Bennett (11-2) - who allowed five hits and five walks while striking out nine - held the Cougars hitless after the fourth. And her team put her in line for the win in the top of the ninth, scoring twice more against Wilkes on Karashin's one-out RBI double and Adrienne Erbe's two-out RBI single.

"It wasn't one of my greatest," said Wilkes. "Location wise it was pretty good, but I didn't have my normal speed. I just didn't have my juice today."

The Cougars used the automatic extra-inning runner and a pair of walks to load the bases in their half of the ninth, before the fateful collision.

Singles by Sam Weaver, Stiles and Heidi Stull loaded the bases for Catoctin with one out in the second. In the third, Wilkes reached second on an error with out. But the Cougars weren't able to turn either situation into runs.

"We didn't produce when it was crucial," said Hunt. "I don't want to put the whole game on the umps.

"The girls made history this season, but this is what mattered. They weren't going to be satisfied unless they won a state championship."

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