Carroll County is writing softball headlines again.
Two weekends ago, a couple of local men's slow-pitch squads stuffed two more trophies into what is becoming an overflowing county display case.
Harrell Agency topped 29 other teams from the Middle Atlantic states to win the National Softball Association's National Regional Men's Class C Tournament in York, Pa.
Harrell, which competes in the Carroll County Men's Softball League, went 5-0, clinching the title bybeating Santana of Harrisburg, Pa., 8-3, in the tourney finale.
Harrell, which won the NSA men's Class C state title several weeks ago, will play in NSA's C World Series in Charlotte, N.C., Sept. 13-15.
Griffith Auto Park didn't quite make it to the championship circletwo weekends ago when it tested its wares at the U.S. Slow-Pitch Softball Association's state Class D tourney at Watkins and Fairland regional parks in Prince George's County.
It finished second to John Hanson Softball Club of Randallstown, Baltimore County.
But Griffith's players, who hail primarily from southern and eastern Carroll County, faced almost four times the odds than did their Harrell counterparts.
They competed in a monster 110-team field -- the biggest ever to compete in a state softball championship tournament, according to state USSSA President Jim Ports.
Griffith Manager Cliff Yeager said he felt intimidated by that impressive array, bristling with powerhouse teams which included the USSSA state Class D champs of 1988 and 1989.
Many of Griffith's players hadn't been to a state tourneyand felt jittery, Yeager added.
"I felt confident that if we played our game -- strong defense and timely hitting -- we could finish in the top 15-20," Yeager said.
Griffith won its first six games, the sixth against Kirk's Saloon of Baltimore, another bunch of thumpers which Yeager said had already won this year's Amateur Softball Association and National Softball Association state class D titles.
Kirk's jumped on Griffith with seven first-inning runs, only to see Griffith score seven in the second.
Griffith went on to win, 14-12.
"That was a key game. We were hot and felt we had a real good chance of winning," Yeager said.
But along came Hanson.
The latter, which Griffith had never played despite its geographical proximity, knocked the locals into the losers' bracket with a 12-11 decision Sunday afternoon.
Griffith then emerged by crushing Coor's Lite 16-0 and faced Hanson again, having to win twice.
But after leading 9-5 in the sixth, it fell before a six-run Hanson barrage in the bottom of that inning and went on to lose, 13-11.
"Our players were disappointed at first, but I told them they had nothing to be ashamed of," Yeager said.
His team has qualified for the USSSA men's class D Mid Atlantic Divisional tournament to be played Labor Day weekend in Parkville and Perry Hall.
While Harrell was more successful, it alsostruggled, starting with a 7-6 squeaker over Gails of Baltimore County in its opener.
But Harrell's manager Doug Green said the third game, against Bill's Towing of Howard County, "was pivotal."
His players, shaken by an injury to teammate Tim Winters, who was hit in the eye by a thrown ball, recovered to win, 11-9, in eight innings.
Winters, hospitalized in York, required surgery on the bones around the eye but suffered no loss of vision.
"Maybe it helped bring theteam together," said Green.
Coming into Sunday with a 3-0 record,Harrell's remained unbeaten by topping Santana, 13-12.
Then, after Santana came through the losers' bracket, Harrell chucker Brant Schanberger held the Harrisburg team to three runs in the finale.
TopHarrell hitters in the tourney were outfielders Tom Hill (.813) and Brian White (.611); the latter was chosen tournament MVP.
Green thinks his team can also make a splash in the nationals.
"We have toscore our 12-14 runs a game and play good defense. If we do," he said, "we could be in the top 10."