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Fashionably late - Leopards win in own style

April 09, 2008|By DAN KAUFFMAN

The third time through the order was the charm for the Smithsburg softball team on Tuesday.

The Leopards - baffled by South Hagerstown's Chelsea Showe for most of the first five innings - strung four hits together for the tying and winning runs in the sixth inning for a 4-2 victory.

"We're slow to get moving. That's kind of been our game all season long, we're slow to start something," Smithsburg coach Brian Getz said. "Every game, we've scored in the fifth or sixth innings. We're late bloomers, it takes a while to jump-start our hitting."

Showe allowed four hits and one run in the first two innings - Emily Bolton doubled leading off the first and scored on Jessica Hartman's infield single for Smithsburg. Then Showe settled in and retired 10 straight from the end of the second inning through the fifth.

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But the Leopards (6-2) figured out Showe in the sixth. Bolton led off with an infield single, but was caught stealing when Paige Decker missed on a bunt attempt. Decker made amends with a solid single up the middle, and T'bony Jewell followed with a rocket to the right-field gap for an RBI triple and a 2-2 tie. Hartman's single up the middle scored Jewell for the lead.

"The sixth inning was big," Getz said. "The girls coming out on top and they go single, single, triple - that gave them the confidence boost we needed."

"(Chelsea) brought the ball up a couple times the last few innings," South coach Angie McQuillen said. "She was hitting her spots (early), keeping it low and making it hard to hit."

The Leopards took advantage of two South errors and singles by Stevey Markovich and Decker to score an insurance run in the seventh.

Smithsburg's Bethany Garnand had a rough start to her pitching outing - Desiree Giffin took the first pitch Garnand threw and hammered it to dead center over the temporary fence for a 1-1 tie. South (3-5) took a 2-1 lead in the fifth when Giffin was hit by a pitch, stole second and Sarah Mertz's RBI double to right-center drove her in.

But once she had the lead, Garnand was perfect, retiring all six she faced - South's No. 4 through No. 9 hitters - in the final two innings. That was important because it kept Giffin, Mertz and Brittany Hyatt - last year's Washington County Player of the Year, who doubled in the third inning - from getting opportunities with the game on the line. She finished with 14 strikeouts.

"Bethany pitched a great game," Getz said. "When Desiree hit that (homer), her head went down and she became timid. But once our offense got behind her, she picked it up."

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