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Indians scrap together opening-game victory

March 31, 2006|by DAN KAUFFMAN

WARFORDSBURG, Pa. - Southern Fulton's softball team manufactured a victory in its season opener Thursday afternoon, relying on aggressive baserunning, situational hitting, steady pitching and two key defensive plays by third baseman Kelly Elbin in the final two innings for a 4-3 win over Hyndman.

Though they only produced four hits - including two that never left the infield - the Indians made it work.

"We don't have a lot of power on this team, so we have to do whatever we can to get runs across," Southern Fulton coach Mike Shade said.

The Indians jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the first inning. Sam Bain led off with a walk, stole second on the next pitch, stole third two pitches later and scored when the next pitch went to the backstop. Kenna Elbin followed with an infield single, stole second, went to third on pitcher Courtney Trainor's infield single and scored on another wild pitch.

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Hyndman (0-2) cut the lead to 2-1 in the top of the fourth when Ashley Silver led off with a ground-rule double to the gap in right center that rolled under the fence and later scored on a double-error by Southern Fulton shortstop Natasha Bard.

But the Indians answered right back with two runs in the bottom half. Bard started it off with a walk, stole second and went to third on Renee Spade's grounder. Destane Whiteside managed to slap a two-strike pitch to the right side of the infield to get Bard in on an RBI groundout.

A two-out walk to Keri Schriever and a single by Emily Garland forced Hyndman to replace pitcher Chelsea Dawson with Amanda Shaffer, who promptly walked the next two hitters to force in the final Southern Fulton run. However, Shaffer struck out Kelly Elbin to get out of a bases-loaded jam without more damage.

"We left too many baserunners on and we had to play defensively," Shade said. "The kids hung on, I'll give them credit for that."

Trainor had her roughest inning in the fifth, when with two outs she gave up three straight hits, including Danielle Lowery's booming triple to deep left field, as Hyndman cut the lead to 4-3.

One-out singles by Alexis Sites and Dawson in the sixth inning put Hyndman in position to tie the game or take the lead, but Marcy Emerick's hard grounder to third was cleanly fielded by Kelly Elbin, who stepped on third for the second out before firing to first in time to get Emerick and end the inning.

Teresa Dietz led off the seventh with a frozen rope to third, where Elbin came up big again, reaching up and snaring the shot for the crucial first out.

"She made some big plays at third base when we needed them the most," Shade said.

Trainor got two more groundouts to end the complete-game victory. Trainor allowed seven hits, walked just one - the very first hitter she faced - and struck out three.

"For her first outing, she made them put it in play," Shade said. "It was a good way to start the season on the winning side."

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