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Bats, defense step up for Lady Comets on the road to title

Michael Kiral / L’Observateur / May 6, 1998

ALEXANDRIA – Heading into the state softball tournament at the Alexandria Youth Softball Complex this weekend, St. Charles Catholicknew it could count on its pitching but defense and putting the bat on the ball were concerns.

Those concerns were put to rest as the Lady Comets defeated Vidalia, 4-1, to open the quarterfinals and then held off a late Buckeye rally, 6-3, to advance to the state championship game.

St. Charles Catholic 4, Vidalia 1 The Lady Comets got the tournament off to a good start Friday, jumping out to a 2-0 lead after the first inning against Vidalia. Alisha Reine ledoff the inning with a double into the right-center field gap and moved to third on a single to center by Kori Guillory. After courtesy runner JennyTraina stole second and Shannon Dolive flied out to left, Marci martin ripped a single to left. Reine scored and Traina came in as the ball got byleft fielder Miranda Higgins.

The game then turned into a pitching duel between Martin and Vidalia starter Deanna Curtis. Martin allowed a leadoff single by Nickie Barlow inthe fourth, but came back to strike out Amanda Tarver and got Amanda Stricklin to line back to her, tossing to first for the double play.

The Lady Comets opened up their lead in the bottom of the inning as Jessie Zeringue led off with a double to center field and went to third on a wild pitch. After Kristin Oberschmidt popped up, Kristen Clement lined a triplepast Higgins into the left field corner to score Zeringue. One out later,Reine hit a slow grounder toward third base that got past Stricklin, scoring Clement to give the Lady Comets a 4-0 lead.

Martin got out of another jam in the fifth. Higgins led off with a single toright and was sacrificed to second by Maggie Duncan. But Sarah Weberchased down Carla Holloway’s fly ball in center and Stephanie Randall popped up to Guillory to end the inning.

Vidalia got on the scoreboard in the seventh as Tarver reached on an error by Oberschmidt, went to Stricklin’s grounder to third, advanced to third on Oberschmidt’s second error and scored on a sacrifice fly by Duncan. Martincame back to strike out Holloway swinging to end the game.

Martin went the distance, allowing four hits while striking out five.

Vidalia, a wild card out of District 3-2A, finished its season at 16-11.

St. Charles Catholic coach Teri Hruska said getting off to a 2-0 leadhelped the team get over some of its nervousness of playing in the tournament.

“It definitely helped everybody,” Hruska said. “We realized we could hitthe ball and score. We put the bat on the ball and the defense played verywell.”St. Charles Catholic 6, Buckeye 3St. Charles Catholic advanced to its first ever appearance in the statefinals by jumping out to a 6-0 lead and holding off a late Buckeye rally in the semifinals Saturday afternoon. Alisha Reine opened the bottom of thefirst with a walk and scored on singles by Marci Martin and Casey Faust two outs later.

The Lady Comets broke the game open in the fifth. Singles by ShannonDolive and Faust, doubles by Martin and Sarah Weber and two Buckeye errors allowed the Lady Comets to score five runs in the frame to take a 6-0 lead.

Buckeye began a rally in the top of the seventh, loading the bases with none out on singles by Stephanie Sasser, Brittany Deville and Contessa Huffman. Ground outs by Carrie Johnson and Ashley Linzay and a Cometerror allowed three runs in before Martin got Kelly Harrell to ground out to short to end the game.

“In the end, it got a little hairy,” Hruska said. “Having a six-run lead tooksome of the pressure off and the defense played really, really well. I amproud that we are peaking at this time and are playing as well as we can.

That is all I can ask.”Buckeye, the District 2-2A champions, finished its season at 22-8.

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