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Blazers host Rebels in county clash

Baseball/Softball Notebook

Baseball/Softball Notebook

April 18, 2008|By DAN KAUFFMAN

By the numbers, when the No. 6 Clear Spring baseball team hosts No. 3 South Hagerstown this afternoon, it will be the best matchup of two Washington County teams this season.

The Blazers (8-1) and Rebels (7-1) have been impressive in 2008, racing to the top of their respective conferences. And while today's meeting won't carry any conference implications, bragging rights are still at stake.

"From what we've seen, (South) is as solid as there is in the state of Maryland," Shives said. "This is new for Clear Spring. This is new for our kids. ... We feel honored to be mentioned as one of the elite teams. This is what a lot of the seniors on this team started as freshmen. They took their lumps three years ago and now they see the light at the end of the tunnel."

"It will be a great game," Stottlemyer said. "I haven't seen them play this year but I saw most of the kids play in Colt League last summer, so I'm aware of how good they are."

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The Rebels may enter the game feeling they have something to prove after Thursday's 15-3 thumping at Boonsboro - a stunning loss that was South's first this year.

"It was a humbling thing, but that's baseball, and everybody knows that," Stottlemyer said. "I feel good for Boonsboro. They played hard, played well. Nothing went our way. We hit the ball right at them."

"That's the thing the people in this area don't understand - baseball is a game where on any given night, the guy toeing the rubber can beat any other team," Shives said. "Each and every night, somebody's coming out and you're throwing your No. 2 or No. 3 pitcher and they may not have it ... and you can have a bad night at the plate. We tend to forget they're still 15- and 16-year-old kids."

Shives said he'll give Kyle Crist his first start on the mound today. Clear Spring's top two pitchers - John Kehr and Josh Constable - pitched earlier this week.

"This gives me a chance to throw my younger guys and prepare them for conference games," Shives said. "Kyle is one of our young guns, and win or lose, he will get valuable experience."

Stottlemyer will send Tim Leather to the mound for the Rebels. Leather is 3-0 with a 1.84 ERA, allowing 17 hits and five walks in 19 innings while striking out 23.

"The biggest thing for our season was Leather coming back from a 5-0 deficit in Frederick in the cold and shutting them down, and we came back and won 6-5," Stottlemyer said. "That was a big game for us. He's strong, but he's very smart on the mound, very heady. Tim's a very disciplined pitcher and he loves the game."

Both squads have several starters hitting better than .300. Clear Spring is led by Constable (.478, four homers), Crist (.461), Aaron Mills (.368, two homers), Corey Morgan (.360, 2 homers) and Jordan Thurber (.315, four homers).

"Our strength program the last two or three summers is starting to pay off. I'm seeing some power I didn't predict," Shives said. "Almost everybody in the lineup has a home run. I credit that to what they did in the offseason."

South counters with Leather (.529, .714 on-base percentage), Tim Jacobson (.455), Todd Jacobson (.417), Steve Grossman (.350), Adrian Adams (.346) and Tim Hamilton (.320). The Rebels did not hit a home run until Thursday - when Hamilton and Tyler Presgraves went deep - but they're patient at the plate with 40 walks in the first seven games.

It all adds up to what could be a great game.

"It's going to be a fun game," Shives said. "Every time Ralph brings his team up, it's a fun game, a fun atmosphere. I expect it to be again."

Quick takes

· No team in the area is hotter than the No. 2 Hedgesville softball squad, which has won 14 straight after starting the year 2-2.

The Eagles have gotten great pitching from Jessica Shirley (9-2, 0.72 ERA in 68 1/3 innings) and Abby Elliott (7-0, 1.40 ERA in 40 innings), and solid hitting from Samantha Nazelrod (.449, seven doubles, two homers), Brittany Kolb (.442, four triples), Shirley (.400, six doubles, three homers) and Paige Reed (.396).

· South Hagerstown's softball team got a break this week. The Rebels lost to Walkersville 5-0 in an MVAL Piedmont contest on April 9, but received a forfeit win when the Lions discovered they used an ineligible player.

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