Blazers climb Antietam standings

May 05, 2006|by DAN KAUFFMAN

At the start of the day two Fridays ago, Clear Spring's baseball team was 4-4 overall and 2-4 in the MVAL Antietam, languishing in sixth place 3 games back of Boonsboro.

What a difference two weeks makes.

The now-No. 7 Blazers have lived up to their name, blazing a trail through the conference. They've won six straight games - five in the conference - and are tied for third place, just a game behind the Warriors in the loss column as the season winds down.

It all started on April 21, when freshman Jordan Thurber blasted a grand slam to defeat Boonsboro, 12-11. Since then, Clear Spring has dispatched South Hagerstown, Hancock, Brunswick, North Hagerstown and Smithsburg.

"These kids just believe," said Blazers coach Mark Shives. "This is my third year and we took some lumps playing young guys the first two years, and now it's paying off. That's what you do here, you take your lumps for two years and you wait for that moment."


The moment is now, and it's being driven by Clear Spring's sticks. The Blazers have scored at least 10 runs in each of their six victories in the streak.

"At the beginning of year, our young guys were doing it," Shives said. "Thurber was putting up numbers. Aron Mills, as of (Wednesday), is batting over .500. That's saying something. There's some good arms in the county, and this guy just hits. ... Our senior leadership stepped up. (Scott) Keeney and (Brian) Shifflett have been catalysts and Mills is getting on base and those two are driving him in."

Shives, a Clear Spring graduate who spent four years as a pitching coach at Florida International University before moving back to the area, is finally seeing the fruits of his program-building ways.

"In college you build programs, and that's what I wanted with these guys, is to constantly be teaching and teaching and to see these guys are learning," Shives said. "They knew where I came from, and the respect factor was there and they went to work. ... Each generation, the new kids see the program is there, and if they want to learn, the ability to get better is there."

Milestone moments

Waynesboro baseball coach Greg Chandler and Chambersburg softball coach Harvey Staver had reason to celebrate this week.

Chandler got his 300th career victory Tuesday, a 4-1 road triumph over Hedgesville. The No. 1 Indians have given Chandler plenty of reasons to smile, winning their first 10 games, then putting their first and only setback behind them with their current six-game run.

It's the same ol', same ol' for Staver and the Trojans' unflappable softball program, which made it 19 Mid-Penn Commonwealth titles in a row with Wednesday's hard-fought, eight-inning 1-0 victory over Cumberland Valley.

Samantha Napier had the game-winning RBI single to make a winner of Staver and starter Allee Rife, who tossed a one-hitter with 11 strikeouts.

Too close to call

That's what The Herald-Mail Softball Player of the Year race is, a battle between juniors Sarah Signore of Greencastle, the 2005 winner, and Martinsburg's Lexi Rodgers.

Signore is batting .463 and is 10-2 with a 0.88 ERA in the circle, allowing 34 hits and just nine walks while racking up 135 strikeouts in 72 innings.

Rodgers is hitting an area-best .542, leads the area with 16 doubles and eight homers, and is 14-6 with a 1.15 ERA and 194 strikeouts in 141 1/3 innings, allowing 69 hits and 24 walks.

The darkhorse: Musselman's Megan Holmes, who is hitting .449 with 10 doubles, three triples and three homers and is 8-1 with a 0.93 ERA and 72 strikeouts in 60 innings in the circle.

Games to watch


West Virginia sectional playoffs, Monday through Thursday - While Musselman doesn't have to worry about playing Jefferson until the regional playoffs - should both teams get that far - No. 6 Martinsburg and Hedgesville are not so lucky.

The No. 3 Cougars, defending Class AAA state champions, are riding a 36-game in-state winning streak, and they have wins of 11-1 and 20-5 over the Bulldogs and 11-6 and 9-4 over the Eagles.

(For the record, Musselman did, in fact, play Jefferson tough in a 6-5 loss on April 14.)

No. 2 Chambersburg at No. 1 Waynesboro, Monday - The Big One. Also, the one that's impossible to predict. Will it be a pitcher's duel, with runs at a premium? Or will the hitters light up the Waynesboro skyline? Either way, expect a thriller.


No. 2 Greencastle at No. 1 Chambersburg, Wednesday - The Big One, Part 2. Signore and the Blue Devils stunned Chambersburg two years ago; Rife and the Trojans evened the score last year. A great playoff warmup.

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