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Prep Softball: Blazers top Leopards to stay undefeated

April 11, 2012|By DANIEL KAUFFMAN | kauffman@herald-mail.com
  • Clear Spring's Lexi Albert (20) is greeted at home plate by teammates, including Heather Schlotterbeck, far left, and Jenna Knable, center, during Wednesday's MVAL Antietam softball game against Smithsburg.
By Joe Crocetta/Staff Photographer

CLEAR SPRING — Wednesday’s MVAL Antietam softball showdown between the conference’s last two undefeated teams — host Clear Spring and visiting Smithsburg — lived up to the hype.

And when the final out was caught by Blazers first baseman Tori Albert, Clear Spring was the last unbeaten team standing.

Sarah Blickenstaff’s two-run double in the second inning gave the Blazers a 2-0 lead, and Lexi Albert’s solo home run in the sixth gave Clear Spring what turned out to be a game-winning insurance run as the Blazers gave up two runs in the seventh but held on to beat the Leopards, 3-2.

“We know Smithsburg is a quality team,” Clear Spring coach Ron Baker said. “In order for us to stay with them, we had to have our defense and our pitching.”

The Blazers (8-0, 7-0) got both. Clear Spring made no errors behind Forrest, who allowed seven hits and gave up Shayla Murray’s two-out, two-run single in the seventh, but got Karah Knight to foul out to first a batter later to end the game.

“What can you say about Amber? She shut down four or five of the best hitters in the county,” Baker said. “She scattered the hits where they didn’t hurt us.”

Smithsburg (8-1, 6-1) fell behind in a game for the first time this season when Blickenstaff found the left-field gap with a line drive in the second inning on a two-out, 0-2 pitch that Cara Ferguson left up.

“The last thing I said to her was, ‘You’ve got two strikes, (swing at) anything close,’” Baker said.

Both runs that scored on Blickenstaff’s double were unearned, as Haley Thorn reached base on a one-out pop fly to second that was dropped. Jenna Knable followed with a single to left. Ferguson got a flyout for what should have been the third out, before Blickenstaff’s double.

Smithsburg had an opportunity to break through in the fourth inning, as Sam Gladhill and Brooke Parks led off with singles. Kinsey Shifflett then flew out to right, and Gladhill was ruled to have left second base to go to third before the catch and was ruled out on an appeal for the second out, a call Leopards coach Katy Barnhart disputed.

Ferguson followed with a single that would have scored a run had Gladhill not been called out, before Forrest got Kayla Huntzberry to ground out to first to end the threat.

“(The game) could have gone either way,” Barnhart said. “They’re a good team, and we are, too. I’m proud of our kids for the way they played, but they can play better. They usually hit much better than this. But this loss will push us to get better.”

With one out in the sixth, Lexi Albert sent a 3-1 offering from Ferguson soaring into a stiff breeze, getting just enough of it for it to carry just past the fence in center for a 3-0 Blazers lead.

“Lexi smoked that,” Baker said. “We talked about two runs not being enough. We needed an insurance run. ... A two-run lead is sometimes deceiving. Anything can happen. But they had to score three to beat us, and then they had to score four. But it wasn’t over.”

Forrest opened the seventh by walking Ferguson, and after striking out the next hitter, she hit Sabrina Green with a pitch. Both runners moved up a base on Krystal Holl’s groundout to third before Murray laced a liner to center to score them both and make it 3-2. Forrest then got the final out to start the Blazers’ celebration.

Blickenstaff and Knable each had two hits for Clear Spring.

Murray had two hits for Smithsburg. Ferguson allowed one earned run on seven hits.

Clear Spring 3, Smithsburg 2
Smithsburg    000    000    2    —    2    7    2
Clear Spring    020    001    x    —    3    7    0
Ferguson and Shifflett. Forrest and Blickenstaff. WP — Forrest. LP — Ferguson. HR — CS: L. Albert (6th, none on).

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