Magic performs wonders on way to ASA nationals

July 28, 1993|By Roch Eric Kubatko | Roch Eric Kubatko,Staff Writer

Russ Moore always thought that earning a berth in next month's Amateur Softball Association national tournament was an attainable goal for his Maryland Magic 12-and-under fast-pitch team.

But that didn't lessen the shock when the Magic won a national qualifier in Manassas, Va., last weekend, assuring it of a place in the Aug. 9-15 games in Chattanooga, Tenn.

"We believed, when we first looked at this team early on and saw the pitching we had, that we had a chance to do fairly well," Moore said. "Our objective was to go to the nationals, but in a way, we were amazed when it became a reality. All the girls came together, and some of them did a fantastic job."

The Magic, a first-year team, went 4-1 in the qualifier, behind the scorching bat of shortstop Kellie Evans, who hit four home runs and had 16 RBI.

This wasn't the first time that Evans had put on a power display. In the Riviera Beach Tournament last month, she hit two balls over the fence, including one that landed beside her father. She also cleared the fence in a Delaware tournament.

"When she's hitting, she's one of the best players we have on the team," Moore said.

Evans wasn't the entire offensive show last week. Breanna Kitchen collected five hits, scored five runs and knocked in three runs. Lauren Gontkof had seven hits, eight runs and six RBI. Beth Brandenburg contributed four hits -- including a triple -- three runs and four RBI.

"We have some people who can really power the ball when they want to," Moore said.

Amanda Donaldson handled most of the pitching , and she was up to the task, striking out 23 batters in 27 innings. Sabrina Ryals and Melanie Warfield also worked some innings , though Ryals was hampered by a hand injury.

The Magic has dropped just six games this summer, and three of the teams that they've lost to will be at the nationals -- the Marylanders of Prince George's County, the Vienna Stars (Va.) and Manassas (Va.). In all, between 50 and 60 teams will gather in Chattanooga for the double-elimination tournament.

"No matter what these teams do, all these girls are winners," Moore said.

"I took a 14-year-old team there four years ago, and we beat a team from North Dakota and I was tickled to death. If you beat any Midwest teams or California teams, you hold your head up very high. But you don't have to win at the nationals to feel good about yourself."

Moore's team has plenty of reasons to feel good about itself, having won county and state championships this year. The Magic also claimed the Prince George's County and Riviera Beach tournaments, and took second in the Delaware tournament.

Other members of the team are Jennifer Browning, Michelle Cappe, Courtney Dixon, Nicole Harris, Ashley Hines, Meridith McAlister, Kareen Falcon and Stephanie Waskiewicz. The assistant coaches are Duane McAlister, Bill Ryals, Pete Waskiewicz and Barry Kitchen.

The organization also is sending its 14-and-under team to an ASA national tournament Aug. 11-15 in Rockford, Ill. The Maryland Magic, another first-year squad, went 5-2 and took second in a qualifier in Sterling, Va., last week under the direction of coach Bill Bernard and assistants Tom Burns, Bill O'Hara and C. J. Holler.

"We have a very good team," said Bernard, whose Magic went 5-2 in the tournament. "We've only lost 11 of 68 games this year. We've got some of the best athletes around."

Christy Huber was expected to anchor a deep pitching staff, but she suffered a rotator cuff injury early in the summer. That meant more innings for Jennifer Bernard and Lisa Gordon, and the duo has pitched exceptionally well.

Other members of the team include Megan Boushell, Kristen Daffin, Maria Drury, Kara Kitchen, Andi Miller, Shannon Noon, Kathleen O'Hara, Cathy Porter, Jennifer Trotta and Beth Yourishin.

The Magic has won the county championship, taken first place in the Delaware, Firecracker (Va.) and Lake Shore tournaments, and placed second in the states.

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