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Wildcats win wild one

May 26, 2007|By DAN KAUFFMAN

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COLLEGE PARK, MD. - "Do you believe in miracles?"

More than 27 years after Al Michaels made that famous call as the USA men's hockey team upset the Soviet Union in the Winter Olympics, Williamsport's softball team pulled off its own miracle Friday.

Trailing 6-2 to Colonel Richardson entering the seventh and final inning of the Maryland Class 1A state championship game at the University of Maryland, the Wildcats scored five runs - including Casey Siler's game-tying three-run home run with two outs and two strikes, and Beth Decker's game-winning RBI single - to pull out a stunning 7-6 victory.

"I still couldn't believe it," Williamsport coach Tom Dzur said of the moments immediately following Casey's dramatic home run into the netting above the fence in left-center field. "They were down to their last strike, Casey was fooled bad on the previous pitch, it looked like it was over. Then it goes over the fence.

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"I'm thinking we need to get a couple runs before the seventh to get it close. I never foresaw waiting until the seventh and then doing that."

Siler's blast was the loudest in a series of blows delivered by Williamsport in the final inning. The Wildcats got singles from Alexis Fisher, Jessica Bennett and Kelly Beard before Siler's homer, and after Emily Huff reached on a two-base error, Decker's hard shot off second baseman Jordan Glessner's glove scored Huff for the lead.

From there, Beard - who came on in relief of Bennett in the fourth inning - and the Wildcats' defense got the final three outs, battling through the last of their seven errors to write the final lines of a remarkable comeback.

"It is one of the greatest feelings, to be able to put that (state championship) banner up on the gym wall," said Jessica Patey, one of Williamsport's five seniors along with Siler, Decker, Huff and Bennett. "We had a couple rough games, nobody's perfect, but this is the greatest feeling. It feels so good to take these plaques home."

Williamsport (18-5) won the state title in its first trip to the state finals - the Wildcats previously had been to the state semifinals in 1978 and 1980. It's Washington County's second state softball championship, as Williamsport joins the 1987 Smithsburg squad.

"My first year, someone from The Herald called me up and asked me, 'What's wrong with softball in Washington County?'" Dzur said. "It goes in cycles - some years you have talent, some years it's elsewhere. You take this past year, every team in the county played us tough and North (Hagerstown) beat us twice. I'm very proud of Washington County. I think we get maligned a lot and it shouldn't be that way."

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