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DeWalt throws switch to light way for Devils

May 30, 2008|By CHRIS CARTER

HARRISBURG, Pa. - DeWalt is the world's leading manufacturer of high-performance power tools.

Thursday night, Greencastle-Antrim leadoff hitter Roxanne DeWalt was the leading manufacturer of high-performance power plays.

DeWalt made a pair of tone-setting plays in the first and fifth innings to pace Greencastle as it rolled past Donegal 9-0 in the PIAA District 3-AAA championship game on Field 9 at Brightbill Park.

The win gave the Blue Devils their first district title in school history and they will play the District 1 runner-up in the state tournament next week.

The Blue Devils (21-4) avenged an 11-inning 2-0 loss to Donegal in the district semifinals in 2006.

"Revenge was good," said DeWalt, who went 2-for-3 and led Greencastle with three runs scored. "I'm going to be honest, coming into the season (a district title) was not on my mind. It's phenomenal. It's like a dream. Words can't even explain it. I'll probably just go home and cry."

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DeWalt sparked the Blue Devils while facing a two-strike count against Donegal pitcher Abby Hoover to lead off the game. On the fifth pitch of the at-bat, she beat out a routine grounder to third base. She advanced on a Katy Bobbitt single and scored on a Rochelle Christman double in part of the three-run first inning.

Greencastle (21-4) led 4-0 when DeWalt recharged the Blue Devils in the fifth.

After reaching on an error - again after facing a two-strike count - the senior center fielder moved to second on a walk and scored on a chopper up the middle by Rachel Statler.

As she neared the plate, she hesitated on whether or not to slide and instead bulled over Donegal catcher Taylor Hatt. DeWalt knocked the ball to the backstop allowing Christman to score from first for a 6-0 Greencastle lead, deflating the third-seeded Indians (21-4).

"As soon as I saw (Hatt) go to cover the plate I did kind of a last-minute slide," DeWalt said. "At that point sliding wasn't really an option."

The two gutsy, hustle plays summarized Greencastle in a near-perfect performance. The Blue Devils had six hits with two-strike counts, including DeWalt's triple during a three-run seventh.

"Good at bats, we've really been talking about it," said Blue Devils coach Jamie Richardson. "Keep battling, hang in there and things will work out. Even with two strikes you have to hang in there."

Christine Earnharth hung in and in the process hung Hoover out to dry. She led off the second inning with a nine-pitch at bat, which reached a full count before Earnharth deep flyball that zipped over left fielder Laura Gebhart's head.

She turned the hit into an inside-the-park home run - her first homer of the season.

"It felt pretty nice since I've been bunting a lot," said Earnharth, who attempted to bunt earlier in the at bat. "I got two strikes, then I just wanted to make contact. I was just trying to keep it in between the lines."

The home run was one of four extra-base hits for the Blue Devils - Christman's double, DeWalt's triple and a Katy Bobbitt triple.

The Blue Devils had nine hits and took advantage of five Donegal errors, plenty for freshman pitcher Autumn Appleby, who fired a two-hitter and has now thrown 15 consecutive scoreless innings.

Appleby called the win the biggest of her career. Until Thursday, it was a 1-0 win against Susquehannock in the district semifinals.

"It's going to be tough to top this, but she's going to continue to get better," Richardson said.

Appleby gave up both hits in the third inning, during which Donegal loaded the bases with one out, but Christman helped bail out her battery mate by picking off Kelsey Hannold at third base. Appleby induced a flyball for the final out of the inning and keep the Blue Devils ahead 4-0.

"That was a huge play. It really kind of took the momentum from them," Richardson said. "Just a heads-up play. There's not as much pressure because one big hit and it could have been a tie game."

Errors in the fifth and seventh inning allowed the Blue Devils to salt the game away. Four of the five runs were unearned because of five infield errors as Hoover (19-4) was denied her 20th win and Donegal (21-4) was dropped in the district final for the second straight year.

Susquehannock beat Lampeter-Strasburg 7-0 in the third-place game and will join Greencastle and Donegal in the state tournament.

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