Northeast nips Northern Benner's hit, Smith's pitching lead 2-1 win

Softball

May 14, 1998|By Glenn P. Graham | Glenn P. Graham,SUN STAFF

OWINGS -- In a game that would have been more fitting under the Randazzo Park lights at a later date, Northeast faced an enormous challenge when it visited state power Northern-Calvert County yesterday afternoon.

But the challenge was overcome, as the Eagles took a giant first playoff step with a 2-1 win over Northern (16-2) in the teams' Class 3A East regional opener.

The task at hand for Northeast, going into this twice rain-postponed game?

The No. 3-ranked Eagles, newcomers in the Class 3A after winning their eighth Class 2A state crown last season, were visiting Northern, which had won three of the last four Class 4A state titles before dropping to 3A this year.

But Deana Benner's clutch two-out double in the fifth inning produced the Eagles' tying and winning runs, and pitcher Stacy Smith and a flawless defense did the rest as the Eagles took out a major title contender.

The Eagles (15-2) know plenty of work is left, though, starting today when they meet the winner of City vs. Patuxent-Calvert.

"We were ready," Benner said. "The wait made us more anxious, and we finally got the chance to play them. We just wanted to make the most of it."

The Eagles' second baseman certainly made the most of her chance in the fifth by lining a double that bounced once before reaching the fence in dead center. Her hit came against Northern's standout pitcher, Candice Rice.

On the mound, the Eagles' Smith won her ninth game without a loss.

The Patriots, who took a 1-0 lead in the second on Carrie Hence's run-scoring single, tried to answer in the bottom of fifth.

With Lisa Boone a one-out runner on first, Beth Radford hit a double to deep center. But Eagles center fielder Angie Doyle, a mid-game replacement for injured Erin Gray, found shortstop Amanda Shifflett, who fired home to get Boone at the plate.

Pub Date: 5/14/98

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