Bly's daring dash helps Lions edge Wildecats O'Neill, in her first start, fires 10th-ranked Howard past Wilde Lake, 3-2

March 25, 1997|By Stan Rappaport | Stan Rappaport,SUN STAFF

Wilde Lake's recent domination of Howard is over -- but just barely.

The Lions, who had lost three straight games to the Wildecats dating back two seasons ago, scored two runs with two outs in the sixth and one in the seventh for a 3-2 victory yesterday at Howard.

Both 10th-ranked Howard (2-0) and Wilde Lake (0-2) got excellent outings from sophomore pitchers.

Howard's Kelly O'Neill made her first varsity start, giving up six hits and striking out 11. She also had a key hit in the Lions' two-run rally that tied the game.

O'Neill, aided by a nice defensive play from second baseman Rachel Grantham, got Wilde Lake out in order in the top of the seventh.

Wilde Lake, which lost, 3-2, in 10 innings last Friday to 13th-ranked Centennial, received another strong game from Jen Babish. A returning starter, Babish allowed six hits and posted seven strikeouts. She also had an RBI single in the sixth as the Wildecats broke open a scoreless game with two runs.

Kristie Dymond opened Howard's seventh with a bunt single, then was forced at second on a bunt by Christina Bly. Amanda Hubitsky walked, putting runners at first and second.

Grantham then hit a soft pop-up that landed a few feet behind second base for a single that loaded the bases.

Lisa Foster, who was 0-for-3, including two strikeouts, then hit a fly ball to short center field on the first pitch.

Bly, standing on the third base bag, knew what she had to do.

"He [coach Dave Vezzi] told me on a fly ball to the outfield to go, know matter what," said Bly. "I knew it was going to be close."

It was. Stef Bassett's throw from center field was accurate, but just a second behind the hard-sliding Bly.

"Bly is probably our fastest player," said Vezzi. "She's the only one on this team I would have sent from third base on a ball hit that shallow."

Wilde Lake used three singles in the sixth to take a 2-0 lead. Becky Ransom led off the inning with a hit, moved to second on a wild pitch, then scored on a single to right by Babish.

Three batters and two outs later, Bassett's single up the middle scored freshman catcher Lauren Cipriani. O'Neill then walked the bases loaded, but struck out Becky Froman on a 3-2 count.

Grantham reached first on an error to open the Howard sixth, but a strikeout and groundout left her at second with two gone. Sophomore shortstop Sarah Berg singled to left, sending Grantham to third. With O'Neil at the plate, Berg took second on a passed ball.

O'Neill said she was "scared" as the count went to 0-2. "But I knew I had to pull through."

She did. Her single to left scored Grantham. O'Neill slowly rounded first, then took off for second. Babish, who had cut off the throw home, never looked at Berg, and tried to get O'Neill out at second. As O'Neill slid under the tag of Mai Tran, Berg scored standing.

"We sent her [O'Neill] hoping to get the run in," Vezzi said.

Said Babish: "I thought I could get her out at second and the inning would be over."

Pub Date: 3/25/97

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