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All-Area Softball -- Christman hot under pressure

June 12, 2009|By DAN KAUFFMAN

Rochelle Christman saved the best of her remarkable career as Greencastle-Antrim's catcher for last.

A four-time Herald-Mail All-Area First Team honoree who has helped the Blue Devils achieve the most postseason success in their program's history the past two seasons, Christman has been otherworldly during Greencastle's run to this year's PIAA Class AAA state championship.

In the seven District 3 and state playoff games preceding Friday's championship game, Christman went 11-for-15 with eight walks, two home runs, nine RBIs and seven runs.

"When it's a pressure situation, I love it, it's awesome," Christman said. "I get nervous, but it's more of an 'I can't wait to hit the ball' kind of thing. I often think about bunting because everybody's playing back so far, but then I think about hitting it hard."

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Hitting it hard is Christman's specialty. She led the Tri-State area with 11 home runs this year -- one every 6.2 at-bats. She's produced a .471 average (32-for-68) with four doubles, two triples, 37 RBIs, 30 runs and 17 walks in her senior season.

Christman is The Herald-Mail's 2009 All-Area Softball Hitter of the Year.

"Just having her presence in there, it makes the other team decide if they're going to pitch to her, because she's going to hit the ball hard," Blue Devils coach Jamie Richardson said. "We're blessed to have someone like that in our lineup. Her reputation precedes her right now."

In Christman's sophomore year, Greencastle won the Mid-Penn Conference tournament title and reached the District 3-AAA quarterfinals. As a junior, the Blue Devils won the District 3 title and reached the state quarterfinals.

This year, Greencastle successfully defended its District 3 title before sweeping through four state tournament games to win the title.

"I know that we wanted it from last year. We know we can get this far and we knew we could do it," said Christman, who will take her talents to NCAA Division I Saint Joseph's in the fall. "We just had some good breaks and God's been kind of with us this whole season."

"She is always there, always steady, always consistent," Richardson said. "We felt really good knowing if we can keep games close, we're going to have her there to get the big hit. That explains why she's a 4-year starter and going to St. Joseph's."

* Chambersburg junior pitcher Emily Estep was good as a sophomore, earning All-Area Second Team honors after posting a 6-2 record and 1.33 ERA for the Trojans.

Estep made the jump from good to great this season.

Estep was a huge part of the Trojans' run to the Mid-Penn Conference tournament title and to third place in District 3-AAAA. She went 11-1 with a ridiculous 0.16 ERA, allowing just 31 hits and eight walks in 85 1/3 innings while striking out 136.

Estep is The Herald-Mail's 2009 All-Area Softball Pitcher of the Year.

"I think I just had a better mindset this year," Estep said. "It was my second year on varsity, so I knew most of the girls and I had a connection with everyone."

Chambersburg coach Harvey Staver said Estep improved as the season progressed.

"I thought originally (her success) was (a result of) the walks she did not give up," Staver said. "As the year went on she picked up velocity. She doesn't throw a fastball, she throws a lot of other pitches, but it's not junk because of the speed on it. The screwball and rise have speed on it and she can throw up in the zone and get it by.

"She probably has the best composure of anyone I've ever had. What we really want her to do is improve her hitting. Pitching-wise, if she pitches like that, she'll be fine."

Christman and Estep are joined on The Herald-Mail's 2009 All-Area Softball First Team by:

Taryn Ashway, Sr., P, Waynesboro -- No player had a bigger impact on her team than Ashway, who got the job done in the circle (19-4, 0.83 ERA, 161 innings, 69 hits and 28 walks allowed, 273 strikeouts) and at the plate (.514, three doubles, two triples, four homers, 18 RBIs, 18 walks) for the Maidens, who reached the District 3-AAAA final and the PIAA state semifinals. The 2008 Herald-Mail All-Area Pitcher of the Year is a four-time All-Area First Team honoree and finishes her career with more than 1,000 strikeouts.

Jessica Shirley, Sr., P, Hedgesville -- Shirley helped the Eagles finish second in the West Virginia Class AAA state tournament. She went 16-3 with an 0.77 ERA in the circle, allowing 73 hits and 16 walks in 128 innings while striking out 209, and she hit .338 with six doubles, four homers, 14 RBIs, 20 runs and 10 walks. A three-time All-Area First Team honoree.

Rachel Kline, Fr., P, Greencastle-Antrim -- It's going to be hard for Kline to top her first season with the Blue Devils. Entering Friday's state final, she was 11-1 with four saves and a 0.58 ERA. In 72.1 innings, she allowed 37 hits and 13 walks while striking out 94.

Samantha McQuade, Jr., IF, McConnellsburg -- McQuade hit .519 with 10 doubles, 5 triples, one homer, 25 RBIs, 23 runs, 14 steals and 19 walks for the Spartans.

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