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Wildcats got first Antietam title under Dzur

June 21, 2008|By DAN KAUFFMAN

Williamsport softball coach Tom Dzur knew he had a challenge on his hands this season.

A year removed from the best season the Wildcats ever enjoyed -- topped off by a memorable seventh-inning rally for the Maryland Class 1A state championship -- Williamsport had to regroup after losing several starters to graduation, all while its opponents licked their chops for a shot at the defending champs.

"We had six new kids in there, and the first question I got is, 'Are you going to repeat?'" Dzur said. "It's so hard."

While the Wildcats (14-3) failed to match last year's postseason success, they did manage to do something last year's team did not -- win the MVAL Antietam title.

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Dzur is the 2008 Herald-Mail Washington County Softball Coach of the Year.

With a mix of returning starters -- including junior ace Kelly Beard -- and talented newcomers, Williamsport remained one of the top teams in the Tri-State area.

"That's our first-ever (Antietam) title, and that was a huge achievement," Dzur said.

Beard picked up the slack left by the graduation of pitchers Jessica Bennett and Emily Huff.

"Her other two years when she pitched, we had three good pitchers, but she became the main person now, the senior member," Dzur said. "She took that on her shoulders and she was under a lot of pressure and she took on that responsibility. She had to take over the ship and she did it."

Senior catcher Emily Myers (.357, nine doubles), sophomore outfielder Felicia Bohn (.342, five doubles) and freshman shortstop Kayla Ewing (.383, two homers) provided offensive punch.

"Kelly (Beard) and Jess Bennett had been my shortstops, and Kayla stepped right in there, not only offensively, but she made some plays defensively. That was a huge plus," Dzur said. "Some of the other kids that stepped into positions, we didn't have anyone from the previous year and they stepped in and did it."

With a good young nucleus, Dzur believes the Wildcats can be contenders for a while.

"We'll have Kelly back next year, and Alexis Fisher was 4-0 and had some good games," Dzur said. "We have to keep getting some good young players up every year and we have to have someone on the mound who pitches well."

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