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Thunder roll to four straight titles

August 04, 2007|By LARRY YANOS

Tri-State Thunder 14U Silver softball coach Chris Abbott really isn't interested in "powerball" - although he probably wouldn't mind cashing a state lottery ticket by the same name.

"Most successful girls softball teams try to overpower the opposition with home runs and plenty of scoring, but we're a bit different," Abbott said.

Using what the Washington County resident describes as 'slap hitting,' quickness, aggressive base running and strong pitching has paid dividends.

The Tri-State Thunder finished the 2006 fall and 2007 spring and summer campaigns with an impressive 74-13-4 record - including four sanctioned tournament championships in 2007.

"Most successful teams at this level are all about power," Abbott said. "We stress other things - and it has worked."

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The team is made up of players from Washington and Frederick counties in Maryland and Franklin County, Pa.

"We practice and play year round and compete in three different leagues. In other leagues, we also have girls from the Eastern Panhandle of West Virginia," Abbott said.

The Thunder went 16-3 last fall, then were 8-0 in an indoor league in Hershey, Pa., and 53-10-4 this spring and summer.

The Thunder are finished with the competitve part of their schedule for 2007, but three tryout sessions will be held this month, followed by a fall schedule and winter practices at a facility in New Franklin, Pa.

Abbott says anyone interested in playing for the team can attend a tryout session. He said 12 or 13 players are usually placed on the active rosters for each age group.

Tryout dates are:

·Aug. 15 at Hagerstown Fairgrounds, 6-8 p.m.

·Aug. 19 at Pinesburg Softball Complex, 2-6 p.m.

·Aug. 22 at Hagerstown Fairgrounds, 6-8 p.m.

·Aug. 26 at Pinesburg Softball Complex, 2-6 p.m.

For information, call Abbott at 301-733-8388.

As for the 2006-07 squads, Abbott said a balanced offensive attack, good defense and solid pitching were the keys to success.

Ashlynn Hartman and Emily Estep of Chambersburg, Pa., generally led the offensive attack while Estep, Katie Zak (Waynesboro, Pa.) and Autumn Appleby (Greencastle, Pa.) provided most of the pitching.

"The opponents usually compliment us on our success, but we always get rave reviews concerning the pitching staff. They are outstanding," Abbott said. "Winning four straight tournanments which featured teams from across the eastern seaboard was especially noteworthy this season."

·The Thunder went undefeated in the 14U ASA Father's Day Tournament in Cumberland, Md., June 16-17. They claimed the championship with an 11-1 win over host Cumberland Heat Blue.

·The Thunder won the Keystone Cup 14U PONY Tournament in Shippensburg, Pa., June 22-24.

Eleven teams from six states (Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Delaware, Pennsylvania and Maryland) competed and the Thunder earned the No. 2 seed by outscoring their opponents 40-10 in six pool play games. They beat the Orange Crush of Midway (Del.) 3-2 in the championship game.

·The Thunder won the USSSA 14U Stars and Stripes Tournament Championship in Newville, Pa., June 30-July 1.

The Thunder went undefeated in the tournament, rallying from a 3-1 deficit in the semifinals to overcome Cumberland Heat Red, 4-3. They then defeated Wyoming Valley (Pa.) 3-0 in the championship game.

·The Thunder won the PONY 14U Firecracker Invitational & College Showcase Tournament in St. Thomas, Pa., July 6-8.

The Tri-State Thunder went undefeated in six pool play games and continued that streak entering elimination play, eventually going 9-0 in the tournament and beating Mason Dixon 8-3 in the final.

·The Thunder finished the season with a second-place finish in the USSSA 16U Andrea Gantt Memorial July 14-15, then went 5-2-1 at the PONY 14U National Tournament in Cary, N.C., July 21-25.

The Tri-State Thunder roster includes Lauren Abbott (Boonsboro), Appleby, Megan Baker (Waynesboro), Katelyn Baughman (Chambersburg), Estep, Hartman, Erin Lisko (Waynesboro), Amber Martz (Waynesboro), Danielle Miller (Waynesboro), Shanan Plunkett (North Hagerstown), Hailee Rohrback (Thomas Johnson), Elisabeth Sharpe (South Hagerstown) and Zak.

Abbott, Scott Estep, of Chambersburg, and Doug Appleby, of Greencastle, are the coaches.

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