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Midnight strikes for Cinderella as Devils fall

June 06, 2008|By Conner Gilbert

HARRISBURG, Pa. - In many ways, this has been a Cinderella season for the Greencastle-Antrim softball team.

After earning their first-ever District 3-AAA title last week and notching their first PIAA state tournament win on Monday, the Blue Devils had their sights set on handing undefeated Milton its first loss of the season.

But the slipper didn't fit for the Blue Devils on Thursday, as the Black Panthers defeated Greencastle 6-1 in the quarterfinals at Brightbill Park.

"Milton is well-coached. They made the plays and got big hits," said Greencastle coach Jamie Richardson. "We didn't."

Milton (23-0) took a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the first inning when Nicole Smith scored from third on Greencastle starter Autumn Appleby's wild pitch.

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"That play kind of changed the complexion of the game," said Richardson. "The girls were down 1-0 and feeling pressure."

But Appleby - 5-0 with a 1.60 ERA in her previous five starts - settled down by retiring seven of the next nine batters.

"Her composure was great," said Richardson. "As a freshman, she can only get better."

Greencastle (22-5) failed to capitalize on chances to score in the second and third innings, stranding three runners in scoring position.

The Black Panthers increased their lead to 2-0 in the fourth when Jordan Frederick hit a home run to right field.

Milton scored a run in the fifth inning when Melissa Balliet reached on an error, stole second and scored on a pair of bunts for a 3-0 lead.

"We knew they would be aggressive," said Richardson. "They did a nice job putting the ball in play."

Greencastle got on the board in the sixth when Katy Bobbitt led off with a triple to left and scored on Kayla Pond's RBI groundout, cutting the Milton lead to 3-1.

But Frederick answered back for the Black Panthers in the bottom half of the inning, slapping an RBI triple to right-center and scoring on a Greencastle error at the plate. Kelly Pfleegor's RBI single to center gave Milton a 6-1 advantage.

"We got good at-bat after good at-bat," said Milton coach Bill Keefer. "We have trouble scoring sometimes, so we have to get in an aggressive frame of mind."

Smith allowed only five baserunners and recorded eight strikeouts for Milton.

Despite the loss, Richardson views the season as a success and believes the future looks bright for Greencastle softball.

"I feel good about the program and our kids," Richardson said. "No one thought we would get this deep. We went above expectations, and you can't ask for more."

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