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Freshmen grow up quick for Greencastle softball team

April 04, 2008|By DAN KAUFFMAN

No Sarah Signore? No problem for the Greencastle-Antrim softball team.

The No. 1 Blue Devils are 4-0 following Thursday's victory over Milton Hershey, and have quality victories over No. 4 Waynesboro and Shippensburg. They're doing it without Signore, the two-time Herald-Mail Player of the Year who is now pitching for St. Bonaventure.

"What's nice is we have some returning players, a nice nucleus, but we also have some young kids who have stepped up," Greencastle coach Jamie Richardson said. "Offensively and defensively, I knew we'd do a nice job. It was a matter of if our pitching would come around."

A pair of freshmen pitchers - Erin Garns and Autumn Appleby - have filled Signore's shoes, if not completely, then certainly adequately. Garns is 3-0 with a 0.58 ERA, striking out 15 without a walk in 12 innings. Appleby is 1-0 with a 2.33 ERA, striking out 12 and walking two in 12 innings.

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"Both pitchers have doen a great job stepping in," Richardson said.

Another freshman, Diamond Byers, has been instrumental in the Blue Devils' two biggest victories. Her two-run home run gave Greencastle a 7-6 victory over Waynesboro on March 24, and she tripled and scored the winning run in the seventh inning for a 5-4 victory over Shippensburg - which has a victory over No. 2 Chambersburg - two days later.

"I'm thrilled that our freshmen have done a nice job," Richardson said.

Leopards improving

Smithsburg's softball team is off to a 4-2 start, and junior pitcher Bethany Garnand has led the way.

Garnand - who led Washington County pitchers in strikeouts last year - is at it again. In 36 1/3 innings she has struck out 71 hitters while allowing just 16 hits, 13 walks and seven earned runs for a 1.35 ERA.

"She moves the ball around a lot," Leopards coach Brian Getz said. "She's become a smarter pitcher, to know what pitch to throw, when and why. She's a really smart kid and works hard with it.

"It's experience. That's really all it is, is the experience of getting the game time. She plays year-round ball, and anybody playing year-round ball at any position is going to get better."

Smithsburg already has more wins than it had last season, when the Leopards went 3-16. Getz has focused on six statistical areas - errors, steals, total baserunners, on-base percentage, team batting average and runs - for which the Leopards set goals to try to improve upon last season.

"I went to them at practice and said, 'Here's the six stats I'm worried about,' and they came up with the goals," Getz said. "Last year we had 90 errors, or 4.73 per game. Right now we're averaging about 2.5. We only had eight steals last year, and this year we've already had nine. ... We had a .179 batting average last year, and we're at .219 this year. ... Last year we were 1-3 through our first four (non-tournament) games, and this year we're 3-1."

Same ol' Cougars

Here's a news item that shouldn't catch anyone by surprise - Jefferson's baseball team appears to still be the class of the Eastern Panhandle.

The No. 1 Cougars - who had all but one starter from last year's state championship team graduate - have reloaded and have not missed a beat. They're 10-1, and reasserted their dominance with a 4-1 victory over No. 5 Martinsburg on Tuesday.

Brandon Campbell - the one starter back from last season - struck out 15 for the victory and appears to have settled into his role as Jefferson's ace, replacing Jonathan Hash. He's 4-0 with a 1.52 ERA and 42 strikeouts in 23 innings.

Andrew Rotruck has supplied some offensive punch, hitting .516 (16 for 31) with five doubles.

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