4-3 win in the cards for Arundel McDowell gets clutch hit, Grace stops Northeast

April 17, 1997|By Pat O'Malley | Pat O'Malley,SUN STAFF

Anne Arundel County softball is so well balanced that giving your opponent a second chance in a close game usually spells defeat. It did for No. 5-ranked Northeast in Gambrills yesterday.

The visiting Eagles took a 3-2 lead into the bottom of the sixth only to drop a 4-3 decision to No. 2 Arundel on Valerie McDowell's two-out, two-run single down the left-field line.

Northeast (6-3) nearly escaped the inning with its lead intact, but a missed chance for the third out gave McDowell her opportunity put the Wildcats (9-2) ahead.

McDowell's clutch hit made a winner out of sophomore fireballer Soraya Grace, who credited the two Chipper Jones (Atlanta Braves infielder) baseball cards in her back pocket for bringing her good luck.

Grace, who yielded seven hits, walked three and struck out four, was coming off a 1-0 loss at No. 6 Old Mill Monday.

"I knew Chipper would bring us good luck today," said a beaming Grace. "He's my favorite player because he's cute and he plays with intensity, which is the way you are supposed to play softball."

Arundel picked up the intensity in the bottom of the sixth when Kristin Daffin reached on an error to start the inning. Breanna Kitchen followed with a walk off reliever Lisa Gordon, who replaced starter Deana Benner in the fifth.

Eagles' coach Lynn Pitonzo elected to bring Benner back after the walk to Kitchen.

Benner struck out Kady House and got Sarah Mayne to bounce back to the mound for a force out at third. Alisha Hepfer then got her second hit (other was a double) of the game, a single to center.

Arundel coach Paul Yannuzzi waved Kitchen home but the Arundel catchersaw that the throw would beat her and slammed on the brakes after rounding the base. Northeast catcher Shelly Guy hesitated as Kitchen slipped, and her throw was off the mark allowing Kitchen to crawl back to third safely.

"You've got to try and score in that situation, and Breanna did a good job getting back after seeing that she was going to be a dead out," said Yannuzzi.

McDowell stepped in and poked an 0-1 pitch over third, scoring Kitchen with the tying run and Mayne with the winning run.

"The first pitch was right down the middle and I expected the second one to be in the same place," said McDowell. "It was and I hit it hard."

Taking the 4-3 lead into the final inning, Grace got the Eagles' No. 2, 3 and 4 hitters to end it.

"Soraya battles out there, just keeps plugging," said Yannuzzi.

And she keeps rubbing those Chipper Jones cards for good luck.

Pub Date: 4/17/97

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