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Blazers rally puts out Wildcats' fire

May 21, 2010|By DAN KAUFFMAN
  • Clear Spring pitcher Damara McDonough is carried off the field by Mollie Kemp, left, and Josie Stotler, right, after pitching the Blazers to a 1-0 victory over Williamsport.
By Ric Dugan, Staff Photographer

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    CLEAR SPRING -- Two teams deserved to win Thursday's Maryland Class 1A West softball semifinal between Clear Spring and Williamsport.

    Only one team could.

    After a battle full of fantastic pitching and defense, Hannah Leizear's line-drive RBI single with two outs in the bottom of the sixth inning gave the Blazers a 1-0 victory and a spot in today's 1A West final against Allegany at Carl Belt Field in Cresaptown, Md., at 4:30 p.m.

    The pitchers' duel between Clear Spring starter Damara McDonough (6-2) and Williamsport ace Alexis Fisher (7-6) was sensational.

    McDonough earned the win with a four-hit shutout, walking one and striking out four.

    "I like the pressure," McDonough said. "It's definitely exciting."

    "Every pitch, every location we called, Damara hit it," Blazers coach Ron Baker said.

    Fisher was a hard-luck loser, tossing a three-hitter with two walks, a hit batter and four strikeouts.

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"You've got to give (Clear Spring) credit, give (McDonough) credit, give (Fisher) a lot of credit," Wildcats coach Tom Dzur said. "(Fisher) came out and was fantastic. I've said in the paper before how great a pitcher she is, and she is."

Schlotterbeck led off the bottom of the sixth with a shallow fly to left center that fell between three fielders to get Clear Spring (17-4) going.

"I just wanted to hit the ball, wanted to get a hit for the team," Schlotterbeck said. "I was nervous running to first, I thought it would get caught, but then it fell."

"We knew we had the top of the lineup up, and we got together and asked, 'Do we bunt (Schlotterbeck) or let her hit?'" Baker said. "She hadn't had a hit and she was due, so we let her hit."

McDonough followed by bunting the first pitch she saw -- a high pitch near her eyes -- to the first-base side past Fisher. First baseman Taylor Davis made a nice play to field the ball and throw to second baseman Brittany Heller at first for the out as Schlotterbeck ran to second.

"That's one of the things we've really talked about and worked on, was squeeze plays and bunts," Baker said. "We've set the pitching machine for bunts low and high, and as it gets tough later in the playoffs, that's what you have to do.

"We knew going into the sixth inning that we needed to do everything we could to scratch the run out."

Schlotterbeck went to third on Haley Thorn's groundout to second. On a 1-1 count, Leizear went with Fisher's outside offering and lined it to right for a no-doubt single, scoring Schlotterbeck.

"I was flipping out running to first, I thought I was going to flip and scream. My heart was pounding so hard," Leizear said. "I don't even know what pitch it was. It was an outside pitch and I hit it on the barrel and it just sailed."

McDonough found herself in a jam in the seventh when Kayla Ewing led off with a clean single up the middle on a 3-1 pitch, and Davis worked a five-pitch walk.

Heller tried to bunt on a 1-2 count and popped up to Leizear behind the plate. Then, on a 1-1 count, Miranda Valentine hit a laser that Blazers first baseman Morgan Purdham reached up and caught for the second out before doubling off pinch runner Lindsey Gipe -- who had no chance to get back to first -- to end the game.

"I saw Morgan's glove, and I thought, 'Yes!' and I jumped in the air," McDonough said.

"A few inches left or right, and we tie the game and have the (go-ahead) run in scoring position," Dzur said. "We had the inning going, it just didn't happen."

Clear Spring 1, Williamsport 0
Williamsport 000 000 0 -- 0 4 1
Clear Spring 000 001 x -- 1 3 0

Fisher and Ewing. McDonough and Leizear. WP -- McDonough (6-2). LP -- Fisher (7-6).

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