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Richardson helps Devils reach higher

June 21, 2008|By DAN KAUFFMAN

For six years, Greencastle-Antrim softball coach Jamie Richardson has done his best to help the Blue Devils become one of the best teams in the Tri-State area and in PIAA Class AAA.

He probably didn't envision this year being the year it happened.

With a roster featuring just two seniors in All-Area First Team outfielder Roxanne DeWalt and first baseman Kayla Pond, and with star pitcher Sarah Signore -- a two-time Herald-Mail Softball Player of the Year -- having graduated in 2007 and taken her talents to St. Bonaventure, Richardson's Blue Devils were expected to take a step back in 2008.

Instead, they took several steps forward in a remarkable season that earned Greencastle (22-5) its first PIAA District 3-AAA title, a trip to the state quarterfinals and the top spot in the final Herald-Mail Super 7 rankings.

Richardson is the 2008 Herald-Mail Softball Coach of the Year.

"This was an exciting season and I'm very proud of my kids," Richardson said. "A lot of people didn't expect us to play this well. We came in with some question marks. We had two seniors who had shown great leadership, but the big key was how the underclassmen were going to step in.

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"As the season started to unfold, I could see us start to grow as a team and get better, and we really came together. We didn't have one person be the key to our team, everybody played a role. Someone else from game to game always stepped up and contributed greatly. As a coach, it was really special to see that. A lot of people didn't expect a lot from us, and to see us grow and get better, that's what made this season so special for me."

Greencastle's program has been good for a long time -- the Blue Devils are 96-24 over the past five seasons. But they've had their struggles come playoff time -- until this season.

"Over the years, we've been very, very close but we've had tough luck and were unable to get right break," Richardson said. "This year we made some breaks for ourselves and finally did some things I thought we could do a couple years ago. Getting a district title and what we did, you can't take away from those accomplishments. We've really done some great things as a program and it's a credit to the ladies."

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