Grace, Arundel out-duel Evans, North County, 1-0 Unearned run decides battle of hard-throwers

April 19, 1997|By Bill Free | Bill Free,SUN STAFF

Soraya Grace threw hard.

At times it seemed as if Kellie Evans threw the ball even harder.

Together, the two sophomores heated things up in a classic Anne Arundel County pitching duel on a cold and windy afternoon yesterday at North County.

Grace and No. 2 Arundel (10-2, 5-0 in the South Division) won the battle, 1-0, over Evans and No. 9 North County. An unearned run in the sixth inning was all that separated the two talented youngsters on the scoreboard.

Grace tossed a two-hit shutout, struck out 12 North County batters, walked one and allowed only one runner to reach second base.

North County's two hits came on a single to short center by Megan Boushell in the first inning and a bloop single to right by Evans in the seventh inning.

Grace, now 10-2, said, "All my pitches were working today. I didn't feel strong warming up but once I got out on the mound I felt real strong. I think all the wind helped my off-speed pitches move a lot more."

Evans responded with a three-hitter, six strikeouts, one walk and no earned runs for the Knights (7-5, 2-3 in the North). The North County ace took a no-hitter into the sixth inning.

Two of Arundel's hits were infield singles by Alisha Hepfer and Sarah Mayne, and the third was a blistering line-drive single to center by Maria Drury that produced the only run of the game in the sixth.

Drury hit a 3-and-2 pitch from Evans with runners on first and third and two out to score Hepfer from third.

"I knew I was going to get a good pitch to hit on 3-and-2," said Drury. "I didn't expect to see any junk."

Evans said she was surprised by Drury's hard shot to center.

"I'd heard she was mostly a slap hitter," said Evans. "She sure hit that ball like a shot. It was real tough for me to lose this game. We didn't hit enough to win."

Just when it looked as if Grace and Evans might hook up in a scoreless duel far into the cold afternoon, Arundel got two big breaks in the sixth to help set the stage for Drury.

With one out and no one on, Hepfer broke up Evans' no-hitter when her grounder to short took a bad hop and hit shortstop Angie Walsh in the neck for an infield single.

Then Arundel's Valerie McDowell hit another grounder to the shell-shocked Walsh who turned her head on the ball and couldn't field it and got charged with an error, putting runners and first and second with one out and leading to the unearned run.

Ashley Hines popped up to third base for the second out and Hepfer went to third on a passed ball before Drury came through with the clutch hit.

Drury, an All-Anne Arundel County first-team goalkeeper last fall, also turned in an exceptional game behind the plate yesterday.

Catching only her second game of the season, Drury picked a runner off first in the first inning, didn't have any passed balls, made a diving catch of a foul ball in the sixth, and nearly ran down another foul pop in the seventh inning.

Drury was catching in place of standout sophomore Breanna Kitchen, whose sore left thumb limited her to a designated hitter's role yesterday.

"Maria has a lot of fight and heart," said Arundel coach Paul Yannuzzi. "I'd take her on my side in any game because of the way she never stops hustling. She also is the best right fielder in the county and hitting .655 with 13 RBIs."

North County coach Brian Love said, "Until we start hitting more we're going to have to be more aggressive on the bases. But overall, this is the best game we've played this season."

Pub Date: 4/19/97

Baltimore Sun Articles
Please note the green-lined linked article text has been applied commercially without any involvement from our newsroom editors, reporters or any other editorial staff.