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Softball clinic covers the bases

February 25, 2007|by MATTHEW UMSTEAD

Brenna Muckle's career as a softball pitcher began by default in Little League when she was 10 years old.

"We didn't have a pitcher," the Hagerstown Community College freshman pitcher recalled at the third Fastpitch Fundamentals Softball Clinic held Saturday at the school's campus off Robinwood Drive.

Muckle, 19, of Winchester, Va., joined other members and the coaching staff of the school's preseason nationally ranked team to teach fundamentals to 39 girls ages 7 to 17.

"It took a whole year to practice (the pitch) to get it down," said Muckle, who threw a few pitches at the end of Saturday's clinic.

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Pitching was not part of the three-hour clinic, and coach David Brooks said he believes basic fundamentals of the game - batting, catching and playing the field, combined with making as few errors as possible - are keys to winning games.

HCC comes into the 2007 season ranked 19th in Division II of the National Junior College Athletic Association after winning the Region XX championship for the fourth time last year.

"Everybody's gunning for us this year," Brooks said.

At the same time, the school's success has helped attract girls to school's clinic, which has tripled in participation, and assistant coach Amy Sterner said the coaching staff hope to improve the level of softball in secondary schools in the community.

"We need to stay competitive in Washington County," said Sterner, noting just over half of the 2007 roster consists of players from local schools. "Ultimately, it's a benefit to our program."

Sterner readily acknowledges that pitching is captivating to many, and the school recently held a seven-week clinic where girls did nothing but pitch.

"That's a little more specialized," Sterner said. "Everybody's not necessarily a pitcher."

Brooks said he finds it rewarding when some of the girls who participate in the clinics later end up attending the school's games.

The Hawks' first game is slated for March 10 at an invitational tournament. The first home contest is scheduled for March 21 against Frederick (Md.) Community College.

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