Westminster works Atholton changeup for 6-5 triumph

April 19, 1994|By Bill Free | Bill Free,Sun Staff Writer

Hard-throwing Atholton right-hander Kim Ruprecht didn't want to throw a changeup to Westminster's cleanup hitter Gina Hughes, who was leading off the bottom of the eighth inning yesterday with the score tied 5-5.

Ruprecht, throwing in the mid-50s all day, already had struck out 11 hitters with her fastball and she wanted to keep on bringing the heater.

But Atholton coach David Vitagliano called the change-of-pace pitch after Hughes had fouled off six straight fastballs, and Ruprecht obeyed.

Hughes' eyes lighted up when she saw the ball coming toward her and she slammed a long drive to deep left field for a double.

An apparently unnerved Ruprecht then uncorked her first wild pitch of the day, hitting the backstop in the air and opening the way for Hughes to score the winning run from second.

Atholton catcher Shannon Eierman, a freshman, raced back to retrieve the wild pitch and hurried a throw to third that went into short left field, allowing Hughes to come home with the run that gave 12th-ranked Westminster a 6-5 victory over ninth-ranked Atholton on Westminster's home field in Gamber.

"I'll take the blame for the changeup," said Vitagliano, whose team dropped to 6-3. "I called it because she [Hughes] had fouled off six straight pitches and was timing the fastball. It was a good changeup but it didn't fool her."

Hughes said she wasn't thinking about what kind of pitch Ruprecht was going to throw.

"I was just worried about hitting the ball somewhere," she said.

Hughes had been one of Ruprecht's strikeout victims and was 0-for-3 before the double.

Hughes' heroics in the eighth enabled Westminster (3-3) to win on a day the Owls were outhit, 11-7, made four errors and had some mis-communications on pop flies.

"But we hung in there," said Owls coach Kathy Hodgkins. "And our hitting is starting to come around. I think we're ready to start playing like people thought we would before the season started."

For certain, the Owls made the most of their seven hits and they displayed the long ball on three occasions.

Westminster third baseman Beth Lister hit a bases-empty home run to deep right in the second inning, Erica Boyce slammed a long run-scoring double to left in the fifth inning, and Hughes hit her double in the eighth.

"Westminster has always been a good-hitting team and they're going to eventually hit the ball on you," said Vitagliano. "It just seems like we always come up one hit short."

Atholton had runners at first and second and one out in the second inning and didn't score, had a runner at second with two out in the eighth and didn't get the run in, and settled for one run in the third, fourth and fifth innings when it looked like they might break through for a big inning.

Ruprecht deserved a better fate. She not only pitched an excellent game with 11 strikeouts and one walk but she drove in two runs with singles and was 2-for-4.

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