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Appleby lifts Greencastle past Susquehannock

May 28, 2008|By Chris Carter

MECHANICSBURG, Pa. - Greencastle-Antrim pitcher Autumn Appleby described her emotions Tuesday with more of an itinerary.

"I'm feeling that we're going to states," she said. "It's huge."

Appleby pitched huge.

The freshman fired a shutout to guide the Blue Devils past top-seeded Susquehannock 1-0 for a spot in the PIAA Class AAA state softball tournament.

Greencastle (20-4) will play for the District 3-AAA title Thursday against Donegal. The time and venue are to be determined. Appleby will likely get the nod.

"For a freshman, that was just a quality performance from Autumn," said Greencastle coach Jamie Richardson of his pitcher. "She's growing up and I feel like she's now building up some confidence."

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Appleby needed every bit of confidence to help her early in the game.

Susquehannock (20-2) used a pair of singles and a walk to load the bases in the bottom of the second. Facing leadoff batter Katie Swade, Appleby calmly fanned her on three pitches.

"I knew I couldn't dig myself into a big hole," Appleby said. "I had to do that (Friday), so I knew I could do it again."

In the quarterfinal game Friday against Muhlenberg, Appleby escaped a bases-loaded jam in the bottom of the seventh to leave with a 4-3 win.

The situation wasn't quite as dramatic Tuesday, but the stakes were much higher.

"I couldn't imagine the amount of pressure on Appleby as a pitcher," said catcher Rochelle Christman. "I'm so proud of her."

Appleby gave up only three hits, struck out three and walked five in the complete game. Aside from the second inning, no Susquehannock runner made it to third base.

A stout defense and a good break helped the cause.

In the fourth inning, Susquehannock's Carley Mickles lined what appeared to be the tying hit down the third-base line but it landed just left of the foul line and teammate Connie Fike was ordered back to second base.

An inning later, Christman caught Lauren Hiebler stealing as the Blue Devils appealed a called strike.

The sequences helped the Blue Devils get out of each inning unharmed, preserving the 1-0 lead Christman established with an RBI triple in the third.

"I was very relieved," Appleby said.

Christman had one of only two hits for Greencastle but for the Blue Devils it was more about timing than potency.

Katy Bobbitt delivered a two-out double to left-center field in the third inning and Christman followed with her three-bagger that sailed over Swade's head in left field.

Bobbitt scored the biggest run of the season for the Blue Devils as they turned the tables on Susquehannock and pitcher Megan Sheaf.

Last year during the district playoffs, the Warriors handed Greencastle a 1-0 loss.

"It definitely helped. We talked about how bittersweet it was," Richardson said. "We knew what was coming. They were coming back with Sheaf."

The junior Sheaf was the tough-luck loser after allowing only three baserunners with 11 strikeouts.

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