Howard ace O'Neill shuts out Glenelg, bats home 1-0 winner First hit of season gives pitcher a 2-hitter to savor

March 26, 1998|By Rich Scherr | Rich Scherr,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

Howard junior Kelly O'Neill picked a good time to get her first hit of the season.

With her No. 8-ranked Lions battling No. 7 Glenelg to what amounted to a stalemate through the first five innings yesterday, O'Neill's one-out triple in the sixth provided host Howard with the big blow it needed for a 1-0 victory.

The pitcher, who also throttled the Gladiators on the mound, allowing two hits and striking out seven, had been 0-for-9 at the plate.

"We really wanted to beat them bad, and I knew I had to pull through, since I haven't been hitting good," said O'Neill. "I didn't try to hit it that far. I was just trying to get on base."

She drove a fastball by Shana Wyant over the head of center-fielder Caroline Jones into the gap in right-center, ending up at third after the ball rolled to a stop. Two batters later, Sara Berg's sacrifice fly to right scored pinch runner Lindsey Hasiuk with the game's only run.

"Kelly came through when it counted," said Howard coach Dave Vezzi, whose team defeated the Gladiators twice last year before losing to them in the state playoffs. "They beat us in regionals last year, so this was a game we definitely wanted to win. Going into the season, we expected them to be one of the teams that was going to compete in the county, so for us to beat them is big."

The hit was the turning point of a game that had been dominated by good pitching on both sides. Wyant also allowed just two hits and struck out six.

Glenelg (1-2 overall and in the Howard County League) put runners in scoring position twice but came up empty each time.

Howard, as well, missed a golden opportunity to take the lead in the fifth after Kim Palmer walked to open the inning and took second on a sacrifice bunt. She was stranded when Gail Phillips grounded out and Rah-Nee Kelly flied to left.

"One big hit was going to win it," said Glenelg coach Dean Sheridan. "You could tell by the third or fourth inning that this was going to be a 1-0 game. Somebody was going to win it, and today it was them."

Despite the loss, Sheridan said the game may have been what his team needed to turn things around.

"We haven't been playing too well, and that helped us a lot," he said. "We would have liked to win it, but we're just not hitting well enough to win it right now."

O'Neill has now pitched 20 innings in the past three days and expects to start again Friday when Howard (3-0, 3-0) plays its fourth game of the week.

Despite a sore elbow, she said she feels none the worse for wear.

"I just go home, ice my arm, and it's fine the next day," O'Neill said.

It's even better when she helps her own cause at the plate.

Pub Date: 3/26/98

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