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Signore, Rife see into their futures

April 13, 2007|by DAN KAUFFMAN

Two of the Tri-State area's best softball pitchers are playing out their senior seasons with their NCAA Division I college destinations already decided.

Greencastle's Sarah Signore - the two-time Herald-Mail Player of the Year - will head to St. Bonaventure in the fall, while Chambersburg's Allee Rife - a two-time All-Area First Team selection - will continue her career at Virginia.

Signore, who is 1-1 with a 1.08 ERA and 23 strikeouts in 13 innings so far this season, chose St. Bonaventure as much for its journalism program as its softball program, according to Blue Devils coach Jamie Richardson.

"It has an excellent journalism program, and that's where she's heading as far as what she wants to do," Richardson said. "She does some writing with the student paper."

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Of course, the Bonnies are more than happy to make use of Signore's talents on the field. She has compiled a 33-9 record and struck out 451 hitters over 265 innings since the start of her sophomore season.

"I think it's her mental aspects," said Richardson when asked what makes Signore so successful. "She's always prepared, she hates to lose, she's very competitive and she always wants to better herself. She always wants to do better than the last time she pitched. She has a demeanor about herself when she's pitching."

Rife compiled a 22-10 record and a 1.07 ERA over her sophomore and junior years, striking out 225 in 203 2/3 innings. Her fastball regularly reaches 60 mph.

"(Virginia) pursued her," Trojans coach Harvey Staver said. "They came to a game, and they needed a pitcher."

Rife is also handy with a bat, as she hit .373 last season.

"I think the best thing she's going to be there is a hitter," Staver said. "She likes fast pitching, and when she sees more of it on a regular basis, I think she'll be a good hitter."

Panhandle parity

When it comes to high school softball in the Eastern Panhandle, there are no cupcakes this season.

Class AAA schools Hedgesville (11-1), Martinsburg (10-2), Jefferson (9-3) and Musselman (6-4) all boast quality squads, and Class AA Berkeley Springs (8-7) is no pushover.

"We've got four tough teams in our area, and even Berkeley Springs, they've got a great team," Bulldogs coach Dean Ballenger said. "All these teams are real competitive. Our sectional is very tough."

Martinsburg has split games with Hedgesville and Jefferson this season and needed eight innings to edge Musselman. Lexi Rodgers, an All-Area First Team selection last season, batted .706 with seven doubles, seven triples and a home run in the Bulldogs' first 10 games, and sports an 8-1 record and a 1.71 ERA in the circle.

"She's one of the best hitters in the area, there's no doubt about it," Ballen-ger said. "It's hard to pitch to her. She's just a great player, pitching and hitting."

Hedgesville's loss to Martinsburg in the Gene Baker Tournament is the Eagles' only blemish.

Jefferson defeated Berkeley Springs and Martinsburg on the way to winning the Gene Baker Invitational.

Musselman is 0-4 against the other four Panhandle powers. Aside from the eight-inning loss to the Bulldogs, the Applemen also took the Cougars into the 11th inning before falling.

Red-hot starts

Waynesboro slugger Nathan Minnich is destroying opposing pitchers so far. In the Indians' first six games, Minnich is hitting .722 (13-for-18) with a double, two triples and four home runs. He's driven in 10 runs and stolen five bases.

Minnich isn't the only one knocking the cover off the ball for Waynesboro. Brenton Kopecek (.524), Zach Helman (.500) and Jamison Walck (.470) help make the Indians' lineup one of the scariest in the area.

North Hagerstown's Marcellus Sumlin (.550) and South Hagerstown's Tim Leather (.526) are also off to blazing starts, and are major reasons why the Hubs and Rebels are both in the first Super 7 baseball poll of the season.

Speaking of the Rebels, standout softball shortstop Brittany Hyatt is 10-for-15 (.667) through South's first five games.

Through four games, Cumberland Valley Christian's Trenton Caldwell (.667) and Steve Carroll (.636) are a combined 15-for-23. Carroll also has struck out 28 in 17 innings.

Games to watch

Today, baseball, No. 4 South Hagerstown (5-1, 3-0) at No. 7 Williamsport (5-3, 2-2) - The Rebels are rolling and will try to stay undefeated in the MVAL Antietam in this road test.

Monday, softball, Musselman (6-4) at No. 6 Jefferson (9-3) - The Cougars pulled out a 5-4 victory in 11 innings on March 11. Can the Applemen turn the tables this time?

Tuesday, softball, Jefferson at No. 2 Hedgesville (11-1) - This is the season's first meeting between these two sectional rivals, who are likely to become quite familiar over the next few weeks.

Wednesday, baseball, James Buchanan (1-3) at Greencastle (3-3) - When these two rivals get together, anything can happen.

Wednesday, baseball, South Hagerstown at No. 5 North Hagerstown (5-2, 3-1) - This game will have more than city bragging rights at stake. It's a big early-season matchup in the Antietam.

Wednesday, softball, No. 1 Greencastle (4-1) at No. 4 James Buchanan (4-0) - The Rockets are undefeated, but can they get the best of Signore?

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