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Risky Hubs reaping rewards

April 19, 2007|by BOB PARASILITI

Past history has forced the North Hagerstown softball team to take anything it can get.

That includes chances.

After going 2-17 last season, the Hubs have decided to push the envelope a little. And so far, it hasn't pushed back.

North's devil-may-care approach came to the forefront Wednesday in the fifth inning when Caroline Kreiger darted home from third on a grounder to short. The risk paid off as Kreiger slid into the plate ahead of Brittany Hyatt's throw for the winning run in a 5-4 victory over South Hagerstown.

In some circles, a move like that would be considered ill-advised, but it worked for the resurgent Hubs.

"I told her to go," North coach Amanda Fleming admitted sheepishly. "I thought the ball was hit more to the center of the field. Hey, sometimes you gotta take some chances."

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It was a huge show of confidence in the Hubs, who are now 5-4 - already three wins better than 2006.

The Hubs flashed their new confidence early. The Rebels jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the top of the first, only to be matched by North in the bottom half.

South muscled up in the fifth, using pitcher Brianne Hammond's leadoff home run to left and Allison Grove's RBI single to cap a four-hit inning for a 4-2 lead.

The Hubs bounced back immediately.

Destanie Agee led off by lacing a shot inside the first-base bag for a triple and came all the way around to score on an errant relay throw to bring North to within 4-3.

"That was big," Fleming said. "It brought us back and kicked us to get going. (Agee) is quick on the bases and aggressive and we try to take advantage of it when we can."

Alyssa Collier walked and scored when Krieger's fly along the right-field line hit off of Heather Myers glove to tie the game. Kreiger took third on a wild pitch to set up what became decision time.

Brooke Powell hit a hard grounder to the left of Hyatt at short with Kreiger going on contact. Hyatt's throw got to plate waist high to catcher Desiree Giffin, allowing Kreiger to slide in safely under the tag.

"I just got down. I didn't know where the ball was," Kreiger said. "I just said I was going and no one was going to stop me. I didn't look for the ball. ... I was surprised it got there."

The Hubs protected the lead in impressive fashion after regaining it. They retired the Rebels in order with three strong defensive plays in the sixth to back pitcher Kelli Toms. Jodi Sneckenberger got a one-out single in the seventh, but Toms closed down South, finishing the game with a strikeout.

"We've been cracking down on defense and they are moving better," Fleming said. "Mentally, they are more in the game."

Defense was the downfall for the Rebels. Hammond allowed just two hits, but South committed five errors, all in the two innings the Hubs scored.

"We played hard, but we had one bad inning and they capitalized on it," South coach Angie McQuillen. "We played better, but we still aren't consistent."

South scored twice in the first off Toms as Giffin led off with a single and took third on Hyatt's double before both scored on Hammond's double.

North tied the game with the help of three South errors. Agee scored on Toms' sacrifice fly and Kreiger reached on the inning's second error and scored when Powell reached on the third.

"This is a huge win for us," Fleming said. "It puts us over .500 and the girls are coming together, plus beating South is big. I told them, when we get down, the game isn't over. We are coming back this year and doing it against teams that used to take us for granted."

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