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Halfway's softball All-Stars ready for state stage

July 06, 2012|By DANIEL KAUFFMAN | kauffman@herald-mail.com

Halfway Little League Softball 11-12 All-Stars manager Chris Schlotterbeck knows what it’s like to be part of a Mid-Atlantic Regional Tournament in Bristol, Conn.

Schlotterbeck was a coach on Conococheague’s 11-12 All-Stars baseball team that won Maryland District 1 and state titles last year to earn a trip to Bristol. His son, Isaac, was a part of that team — and the experience made an impression on Chris’ daughter, Trinity.

“We took the whole family to Bristol, and last year was the first year that Little League had the softball at the regional tournament and it had just finished a week before,” Chris Schlotterbeck said. “She got excited and said she’d love to have the opportunity to compete in something like that.”

Her and her teammates can earn that opportunity in the next few days.

Halfway capped its first season of softball by winning the best-of-3 District 1 championship series 2-1 over Sharpsburg. Its reward: More trips to Sharpsburg, the host for the state tournament, which begins Saturday.

“She’s on top of the world, as is the whole team,” Chris Schlotterbeck said. “They’re ready to hit the field and they’re excited for the opportunity, and they’re dreaming big and want to make it to the next level.”

Following Saturday’s opening ceremonies, two games will be played: District 6 champion Home Run Baker will face District 5 champion Perryville at noon, before District 8 champion Delmar battles District 7 champion Calvert American at 3 p.m.

Halfway has a first-round bye as the representative from the host district, and will play its first game in a winners’ bracket semifinal against the Delmar-Calvert American winner on Sunday.

Trinity Schlotterbeck will be in the spotlight as Halfway’s ace pitcher and one of its top hitters.

In the district championship series, she went 2-0 in the circle with a 3.73 ERA, allowing 12 hits and seven walks while striking out 31 in 15 innings.

“Our bye makes us play back-to-back on Sunday and Monday, so we’re going to watch the games Saturday and see what’s the best day to have her pitch,” Chris Schlotterbeck said. “She’ll definitely pitch two innings Sunday and then she can still come back for Monday. We might hold her back from pitching a full game until Monday.”

Halfway’s top four hitters in the lineup — Katelyn Yost, Trinity Schlotterbeck, Jazmine Yost and Morgan Domer — combined to go 16-for-39 (.410) with four doubles, 13 RBIs, 14 runs scored and eight walks against Sharpsburg.

“That’s why they’re up there. We want them up at the plate as many times as they can be because with one swing of the bat they can hit one out of the park, as tough as that is,” Chris Schlotterbeck said. “If we can get the lead and Trinity’s on the mound, we know we can shut anybody down.”

The bottom five spots in Halfway’s order went 5-for-40 (.125) against Sharpsburg. Val Bran and Alyssa Shoemaker each had two of those hits, with Bran coming up with two huge RBI singles late in a nine-inning 11-10 victory in Game 3.

“We’ve actually moved those two up in the order. Val’s hitting fifth and Alyssa is hitting seventh,” Schlotterbeck said. “We’ve made those adjustments hoping they’ll have a little more confidence themselves.”

In the two-plus weeks since Halfway wrapped up its district championship, defense has been a priority in practice after making 17 errors against Sharpsburg.

“What we focused on the most in the last two weeks is outfield play,” Schlotterbeck said. “We’ve had 12 practices and each day we’ve done popups and drills so they’re making better reads on balls off the bat. We’re going to move some other people around. Defense has really been a priority.”

It took Halfway 35 years to win its first District 1 11-12 baseball title — that coming in 1991 after the league was started in 1956 — but only one to win its first softball crown. Now Halfway’s All-Stars will try to make more history quickly.

“We’re very excited and extremely proud. We think that everyone did a great job putting this together and we’re very happy,” Halfway president Jack Jenkins said. “We have a great group of coaches and managers with softball. They were super with the girls. It really worked out as good as it could have.”

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