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Prep Softball: Blazers edge Leopards

April 01, 2013|By DANIEL KAUFFMAN | kauffman@herald-mail.com
  • Smithsburg's Brooke Parks, left, and Clear Spring's Jenna Knable collide at first base during a pickoff attempt in Monday's game.
By Ric Dugan/Staff Photographer

CLEAR SPRING — So many times in softball — just like any other sport — the basics win or lose games.

On Monday night, two sacrifice bunt attempts in the eighth inning made a huge difference in Clear Spring’s 3-2 victory over Smithsburg in a key early-season MVAL Antietam contest.

The Leopards (1-2, 0-1) failed to get the bunt down, and failed to score in the top half. The Blazers (2-1, 1-1) executed theirs, and it led to the winning run scoring.

“That’s the key to the tiebreaker, get the runner on third with one out and anything can happen,” Clear Spring coach Ron Baker said. “This was a big win. Early in the season, you can’t ask for anything better than this.”

“It comes down to fundamentals and execution across the board for us, bottom line,” Smithsburg coach Katy Barnhart said. “There’s definitely some things to work on. We have time to fix them.”

Playing by international tiebreaker rules, each team’s final hitter of the seventh inning started the eighth on second base.

In the top half, Smithsburg’s Sam Gladhill started on second and Cassidy Vega tried to bunt her to third, but fouled off Clear Spring reliever Kris Mellott’s first two offerings. Vega flew out to left, and Mellott retired the side on a popup to short and a flyout to right to keep the score tied.

In the bottom half, Sarah Blickenstaff started on second and Savannah Mills — who fouled off her first bunt attempt — got the 0-1 pitch down and in play in front of Smithsburg pitcher Cara Ferguson, who threw out Mills at first while Blickenstaff took third. Mellott followed by grounding a 2-0 pitch to short that Gladhill scooped up and threw to first, a mental error that allowed Blickenstaff to score the winning run uncontested.

Blickenstaff got a great jump off of third base on the play and likely would have beat a throw home anyway.

Smithsburg took a 1-0 lead off Clear Spring freshman starter Savannah Mills in the top of the fifth on Kinsey Shifflett’s two-out double off the fence in the right-field gap. Shifflett finished with two hits.

Clear Spring answered with two unearned runs in the bottom half for a 2-1 lead. Two infield fielding errors set up Tori Albert’s two-out, two-run single to left, a hard shot through the hole. Albert finished 2-for-3 with a double and a walk one game after homering in a loss to Catoctin.

“Tori has been big in a couple games,” Baker said. “She’s swinging a hot bat.”

Smithsburg tied the game at 2 in the seventh. Laura Hartman, the Leopards’ No. 9 hitter, led off with a bloop single to right off Mills to bring up Smithsburg’s potent top of the order for the fourth time in the game. Mills got two outs, but Ferguson blooped a single to right and Brooke Parks — who went 3-for-4 — crushed a liner off the fence in right for the game-tying RBI single.

“Brooke came up huge when we needed her to,” Barnhart said. “That was a big swing.”

Mellott then came in and retired Gladhill on a foul popup to third.

“I don’t do anything without consulting my other coaches. We had Mellott warmed up the inning before, and I even asked (assistant) Scott (Forrest), ‘Did I wait too long?’ And he said, ‘You did the right thing.’”

“That’s what you get for listening to me!’” Forrest replied.

Mills pitched 6 2/3 innings, allowing two runs on nine hits and one walk while striking out nine. Mellott retired all four hitters she faced for the win.

All three runs Ferguson allowed were unearned — the international tiebreaker runner who starts on second always counts as an unearned run. Ferguson allowed five hits and three walks while striking out seven.

Clear Spring 3, Smithsburg 2
Smithsburg    000    010    10    —    2    9    3
Clear Spring    000    020    01    —    3    5    2
Ferguson and Shifflett. Mills, Mellott (7) and Blickenstaff. WP — Mellott. LP — Ferguson.

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