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Greencastle wins crown

June 12, 2009|By CHRISTIAN WORSTELL/Staff Correspondent

SHIPPENSBURG, Pa. -- Rachel Kline had the same dream on Friday that she's had a million times before.

Only this time, there was something slightly different about it.

This time, she was awake.

Kline, a freshman, hit a walk-off single in a drizzle with two outs in the bottom of the ninth inning of the PIAA Class AAA state championship game, giving Greencastle-Antrim a 1-0 victory over Bethlehem Catholic at Shippensburg University's Robb Field. It's the Blue Devils' first state title in school history.

"I was pretty nervous. But I just wanted to score the run and get the game over with," Kline said. "I wanted it to stop going extra innings."

After reaching base four times in the first three innings, the Blue Devils did not have another base runner for five innings as Golden Hawks pitcher Kelly King retired 17 straight batters.

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Greencastle leadoff hitter Meghin Palmer finally broke that streak with a bunt single to start the ninth. Katy Bobbitt's sacrifice bunt moved Palmer to second. Bethlehem Catholic then elected to walk slugger Rochelle Christman.

"That was OK because there was one out and we had Rachel Statler and Rachel Kline coming up. Rachel Kline had been hitting the ball hard all day," Greencastle coach Jamie Richardson said. "I knew if we could just get one hit, Meghin Palmer would score because she's the fastest player on the team."

After Statler struck out for the second out, Kline came to the plate hitless in her first three at-bats. On a 1-0 count, Kline ripped a line drive over third base and Palmer scored easily to end the game.

"It hit the fat part of the bat and then it just went," Kline said. "I'm just glad it turned out the way it did."

King actually threw a swinging strike on the first pitch to Christman, who hit 11 home runs this year, before Golden Hawks coach Rich Mazza called for the walk.

"(King) was a little upset I intentionally walked that No. 3 hitter, but that's just the way it is," Mazza said. "I'd do it again."

"I think she kind of self-destructed a little bit when she had to walk Rochelle," Richardson said. "She did not want to do that and we heard she can get a little rattled. When that happened, I knew we had a good chance to put the ball in play and score the run."

After going five innings without a base runner, the Blue Devils needed a spark and got it with a defensive play in the top of the ninth. With two outs and Liz Presto on first, Bethlehem's Ericka Esposito drilled a ball to the fence in right-center field. Palmer threw to Bobbitt at second base, and Bobbitt's relay throw to Christman nailed a sliding Presto on a close play at the plate to end the inning.

"We work on those relays all the time. I felt that if we nailed her at the plate we would now win because I thought that's what we needed to break through," Richardson said. "I thought that was a big momentum shift."

That play was the first time a Golden Hawk had touched third base all day against sophomore Greencastle pitcher Autumn Appleby, who struck out six and allowed six hits.

"Probably if we played them 10 times, this is how it would be every time," Mazza said. "We have nothing to be ashamed of. I'd be really upset if we didn't play well, but we played well."

"We wanted it. I'll put it that way," Christman said. "We wanted to go further (than last year's quarterfinals). We wanted to do better. But it wasn't like, 'Yeah, we're definitely winning states.' Bobbitt came up with the quote that we need to end our season on a win, and we did. It's just awesome."

Asked if the hit was the biggest of her life, Kline thought for a moment before saying, "So far."

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