Glenelg proves it's the team to beat

April 01, 1994|By Rich Scherr | Rich Scherr,Special to The Sun

After losing three All-County players to graduation, Glenelg was picked by most to finish no higher than third in the county behind Centennial and Atholton.

For coach Chuck Struhar, that spelled opportunity.

And with yesterday's 5-0 victory over the host and sixth-ranked Raiders in the championship game of the Atholton Spring Tournament -- coupled with last week's season-opening win over No. 3 Centennial -- the No. 11 Gladiators quickly have become the team to beat in Howard County.

"We lost three excellent players, and people are looking at us like we're not as good as in the past," said Struhar. "We were ranked behind [Atholton and Centennial], and I can accept that. But we still have a lot of good role players.

"We needed to come out and show we could beat them, and that's just what we did."

The latest triumph came against Atholton's All-Metro pitcher Kim Ruprecht. The Gladiators -- who beat Riverdale Baptist, 9-6, in the first round -- took advantage of several Raiders mistakes to score one run in the third and four more in the sixth to seal the victory.

Meanwhile, starter Emily Kessler looked sharp, going the distance and allowing just six hits, no walks and striking out eight.

The right-handed senior baffled Atholton hitters all day by mixing her blazing windmill fastball with a slow changeup.

"My changeup was really working today," said Kessler (2-0). "I just tried to go out and pitch my game and hope it was good enough."

Glenelg (3-0) took a 1-0 lead in the third inning, when second baseman Karyn Duff singled to right, took second when center fielder Kim Brown reached on an error, and came home on two wild pitches.

The Gladiators extended their lead with four runs in the sixth.

Brown tripled down the right-field line to start the inning and scored when first baseman Jodi Kielman followed with a single to center to make it 2-0.

Later in the inning, Kielman and designated hitter Karen Cadogan scored the third and fourth runs on wild pitches, and shortstop Holly Degner then finished off the scoring, coming home after Atholton first baseman Stacie Valentine mishandled a ball off the bat of Geisler.

The Raiders (2-1), who had pounded Good Counsel, 26-1, earlier in the day, tried to mount a comeback in the seventh inning. But after putting runners on first and third with two outs, right fielder Mandy Robins was thrown out trying to steal second, ending the game.

Atholton coach Dave Vitagliano, whose team scored an 8-1 victory over Kessler and the Gladiators a season ago, said the pitcher has improved in several areas.

"She's throwing the ball harder and her control is better," said Vitagliano, who added that his team's inability to lay down the bunt was costly. "I told them before the game that we'd have to bunt the ball well to beat a good team. Today we didn't do that."

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