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Prep Softball: Blazers dodge Wildcats' upset bid

April 03, 2013|By DANIEL KAUFFMAN | kauffman@herald-mail.com

WILLIAMSPORT — Clear Spring’s softball team entered Wednesday’s game at Williamsport having defeated Smithsburg 3-2 in eight innings on Monday in a battle of two MVAL Antietam title contenders. Meanwhile, the Wildcats entered Wednesday’s game having lost their first four outings.

An easy victory for the Blazers?

Hardly.

Clear Spring used three key hits and a double steal to take a 5-1 lead through four innings, then had to hold off upset-minded Williamsport in the final three innings to walk away with a 5-4 victory the Blazers had to feel fortunate to get.

“We made a few mistakes and our pitching was suspect,” Clear Spring coach Ron Baker said. “Give Williamsport credit. They came to play, had some good hits and played good defensively tonight. We had some high moments — without a doubt we were hoping for them to be more frequent — but a win’s a win.”

The Blazers (3-1, 2-1) opened the scoring with three runs in the second inning off Williamsport freshman pitcher Kate Wade on Alisa Zimmerman’s line-drive RBI single to right and Sarah Elwood’s two-run triple, a line drive over the center fielder’s head.

In the third, Tori Albert walked and stole second before taking third on Kris Mellott’s bad-hop infield single to short. Baker called for a double steal, with Mellott beating the throw to second as Albert scored to give Clear Spring a 4-0 lead.

The Wildcats (0-5, 0-2) got on the board in the bottom of the third. Megan Budnicki led off with a line drive to right for a double, took third on a wild pitch and scored on Sarah Kindle’s single off lunging shortstop Sarah Blickenstaff’s glove to cut the lead to 4-1.

The Blazers scored their final run in the fourth. Sam Staley led off with a single to center, took second on Elwood’s sacrifice bunt and scored on Lexi Albert’s double to the gap in right.

From there, Wade picked up her game in the circle. She faced just two hitters over the minimum over the final 3 2/3 innings, giving Williamsport a chance to rally.

“Especially for being a freshman, she did a good job not being intimidated and not getting down after they had some big hits,” Wildcats coach Jennie Finafrock said.

Williamsport chased Clear Spring starter Brooklyn Drury in the fifth. Wade led off with a grounder back to Drury that she threw low for an error. Kindle singled to center and Autumn Stotler’s infield single scored Wade to cut the lead to 5-2.

Baker went to Mellott in relief, and she walked Emily Taylor on four pitches to load the bases. Casie Files then hit a grounder to third, where Savannah Mills fired home for one out and Zimmerman, the catcher, fired to first in time to complete a crucial 5-2-3 double play.

“Casie’s been struggling, and she’s not the fastest runner,” Finafrock said. “Exactly what we didn’t want to happen, happened.”

A wild pitch allowed Stotler to score to make it 5-3, but after Caitlin Kennedy walked, Mellott struck out Kaitlyn Giffin to end the threat.

The Wildcats had one last chance in the seventh. Kindle led off with a single to center off Mellott, and Baker switched to Mills in the circle for the final three outs. She struck out the first two hitters she faced, but an outfield error allowed Kindle to score to cut the lead to one with Files on second. Mills then got Kennedy to ground out to second to end it.

“We’ve been fixing some little things — the physical things — and we need to fix a few mental things, but we’re on the right path,” Finafrock said. “I’m definitely happy.”

Clear Spring 5, Williamsport 4
Clear Spring    031    100    0    —    5    9    2
Williamsport    001    020    1    —    4    7    0
Drury, Mellott (5), Mills (7) and Zimmerman. Wade and Kennedy. WP — Drury. LP — Wade.

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