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'Cats win, Hubs make it difficult

March 31, 2005|by BILL STERNER/Staff Correspondent

Having all the pieces in place does not necessarily guarantee the completion of the puzzle.

Just ask North Hagerstown softball coach Amanda Fleming.

One year removed from a disastrous collapse of confidence and personnel in the MVAL Antietam, Fleming and the Hubs worked hard in the off-season to put those bad memories behind them.

So far, the results have been three losses, but this team is miles from last year's squad.

"Wow," Fleming said. "No contest."

Williamsport got five strong innings from junior Courtney Hutchinson and some timely hitting in the middle innings to keep North at arm's length in a 5-3 win Wednesday evening.

But for the Hubs - who keep inching closer to a victory - the game was a hopeful preview of things to come as North showed flashes of brilliance in all aspects of the game.

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"We are so far ahead of last year, both in attitude and ability," Fleming said of a team that still starts mostly sophomores and juniors. "We haven't won yet, but you won't see any of them head-hanging or sulking."

North came back every time Williamsport went ahead, staying within a couple of runs throughout.

Down 2-0 in the bottom of the second, the Hubs scored their first run when Ashley Ernde reached on a single and came home on a Cara Thompson liner to left that hugged the line, just getting by the Wildcats' third baseman.

Williamsport came back with a run in the third as Beth Ryan beat out an infield dribbler and went to third on a walk and a sacrifice. She scored on a wild pitch for a 3-1 lead.

North got the run back in the bottom of the third, but Williamsport answered by plating a pair of runs off of three hits and a hit batsman. Ryan - who finished 3-for-4 - drove in a run with a single to right on a full count and later came home on Hutchinson's hard single to left.

For the Wildcats, the win was a solid start on a season bright with promise, according to coach Tom Dzur.

"We are pitching and hitting strong," Dzur said of the Wildcats, who had nine hits and played solid defense in several tight situations. "We hit the ball hard. (Jessica) Benatt, (Beth) Ryan and Hutchinson all hit the ball hard and made things happen."

For the Hubs, it was the same ol' song ... well, not really.

"We will keep working at it until things turn around for us," Fleming said. "We know it will be soon."

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