'Doomer' strikes fear in softball foes PAN AM GAMES

August 08, 1991

HAVANA -- Debbie Doom has the name, the size and the pitch -- "La Supersonica," to the amazed Cubans -- to strike fear in every team she faces.

The star of the U.S. women's softball team, which won its fifth game yesterday with shutout No. 5, a 7-0 victory over the Bahamas, has thrown two perfect games to complement a no-hitter, one-hitter and two-hitter by her teammates.

The "Doomer," as her teammates call her, is the most menacing of all to her opponents. She stands a slender 6 feet 2, but when she finishes her 7-foot stride and releases her 70-mph rise ball with a windmill delivery, she's only 33 feet from the plate. Instead of seeing the ball, the hitters listen to it pop in the catcher's glove.

"Speed is not the most important thing," she says. "Movement and control are the key. The humid air here is good for me. It helps the ball rise."

Not only do the American women have a 0.00 ERA, but they've held hitters to a .027 batting average.

"We'd like to throw shutouts every game," Doom says.

She struck out 33 in her two seven-inning games. Only one ball, an easy pop-up to shallow center, got past the infield in her second game as she struck out 17, including 10 in a row.


The Cuban fans did their best to distract the Americans again, but didn't have much luck.

Jill Schlabach, a bodybuilder and surgical intensive care nurse at the University of Michigan Medical Center, won the women's 1-meter springboard, and teammate Alison Maisch took second place.

"It's so neat to see the flag and hear our national anthem. That brings shivers," said Schlabach, 25, after the biggest international competition of her career.

Despite whistles and boos from a partisan crowd of 3,500 that extended six deep behind the last row of seats, Schlabach took the lead on the second of her five dives and then kept it.

Fans hooted when her best score -- 55.08 -- was posted after her third dive. Schlabach, like her teammates jeered in earlier events, refused to become rattled.

"I heard the booing," she said. "I didn't know if they were booing how I got scored or how I dove. It's amazing that the whole crowd is so much into it. It was kind of neat."

Schlabach's total score was 256.5. Teammate Alison Maisch, a graduate student at the University of Florida, posted the best score of the event -- 57.72 -- on her final dive to take the silver with a 250.68.

Track and field

Cletus Clark won in the 110-meter hurdles in 13.71 seconds to give the men's track and field team its first gold after it failed to win one in eight previous events.

"I thought we could use some more medals, especially a gold," he said. "I did not want to let this crowd go wild by letting the Cubans win.

"Anything less than a victory would have been a disappointment. I'm disappointed with the time, but I'll take the gold."

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