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Wildcats break through to state semis

May 20, 2007|By BOB PARASILITI

MOUNT SAVAGE, Md. - Williamsport played C.B. radio softball on Saturday.

It was "Breaker, Breaker."

Jessica Bennett was the icebreaker. And Kelly Beard was the gamebreaker.

Bennett used extra hustle on a ground ball to help the Wildcats break through and Beard followed with a clutch hit in a three-run fifth inning to hand Beall the cruelest break of them all - the heart kind.

Williamsport battered the Mountaineers late and pulled away to an 11-0 victory to win the Maryland Class 1A West title and advance to its first state tournament appearance since 1980.

"It's an incredible feeling," said Bennett, who pitched a masterful two-hitter to put the Wildcats in position to win. "All year long, this has been the goal. We want to be the first team to put the sign on the wall (in Williamsport's gym) and say we were state champs."

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The Wildcats (16-5) will get their chance as they advance to the Final Four, where they will play North Point in the semifinals on Tuesday at 3:30 p.m. at Backman Softball Park in Glen Burnie, Md. North Point defeated Poolesville 10-4 on Friday to win the South region.

Williamsport came up with it all in an all-or-nothing situation to seize the momentum and ring up Beall.

It started with Ali Zube's one-out single, Alexis Fisher's walk and Emily Myers' fielder's choice grounder - eliminating Zube - to set the stage for Bennett.

Bennett slapped what looked to be a routine grounder to shortstop Miranda Nicol and bolted down the line. It paid off as the throw went wildly to first to score Fisher. Beall first baseman Andrea Livingston uncorked an errant throw home, trying to get Fisher, to advance the runners.

"Every time, I run the play out," Bennett said. "I just hope I get faster each time and get there. I thought I was out. I think it helped us get going ... too bad we got the run because of an error."

It ended up being a good thing, though.

Beard followed with a confident stroke and ripped a two-run single to make it 3-0.

"That first run pumped everyone up," Beard said. "I was just trying to put the ball in play. I needed to relax and hit. With Jess getting to first, I was glad I got a chance. I like to hit under pressure."

With the 3-0 lead, Williamsport took the air out of Beall, even though coach Tom Dzur wasn't taking it for granted.

"It was like we had to break through," he said. "Jessica was pitching a great game and we were playing great defense. We needed to get a run. It was starting to look like another Catoctin situation."

But as it turned out, the Wildcats were far from reliving the drama of Thursday's 7-6 win in extra innings over the defending 1A champs. The sixth inning made sure of that.

The Wildcats sent 11 hitters to the plate for eight runs and put the game out of reach. Zube reached on another double-error play to bring home the first two runs and prolong the inning for Myers to apply the backbreaker - a two-run home run to left.

Fisher and Emily Huff added RBI singles and Casey Siler had a run-scoring double to cap the barrage.

Then it was up to Bennett to finish what she started.

She set down the Mountaineers (14-5) in the sixth, despite a one-out walk, to ice the victory. Bennett allowed Nicol to lead off the game with a double before holding Beall to one hit the rest of the way. She finished with eight strikeouts and two walks.

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