Upstart Atholton gives Wilde Lake its 1st loss

Freshman pitcher, Raiders win, 4-0, take over 1st place

April 15, 1999|By Stan Rappaport | Stan Rappaport,SUN STAFF

Despite consecutive losing seasons, Atholton coach John Zitko was convinced this season's team was among the best in the county.

"The trick was getting the girls to believe it," Zitko said.

They believe it now.

The 14th-ranked Raiders handed eighth-ranked and host Wilde Lake its first loss of the season, 4-0, yesterday and moved into sole possession of first place in the county standings.

"I think we can win the county," said freshman pitcher Katie Zitnay, one of the main reasons for the Raiders' turnaround. "We don't get scared, and we don't stop trying."

Atholton took advantage of two throwing errors on the same play to score twice with two outs in the second inning. The Raiders (7-0) added single runs in the third and fifth innings on RBI singles from Tiffany Mathis and Zitnay.

Wilde Lake coach Sal Milio had been concerned recently about his team's hitting. Yesterday, the Wildecats connected for nine hits, including two doubles.

"They rocked me," said Zitnay.

But the Wildecats (7-1) left 10 runners on base, eight in scoring position. Wilde Lake stranded runners on second and third in the second, fourth and fifth innings.

And Wilde Lake's defense, normally the team's strength, committed five errors. The Wildecats also took themselves out of innings with base-running blunders.

"We just didn't play smart," Milio said.

Zitnay, who struck out four and didn't give up a walk, said she was "a little shaky" at the start. Wilde Lake had four hits after two innings, but it was Atholton with the 2-0 lead.

"I was a little nervous, but when we got those first two runs I was fine," Zitnay said.

Wilde Lake, trailing 4-0, appeared to have broken through in the bottom of the fifth.

Shannon Fitchett led off with a single to center. Megan Lucks' bunt was caught by catcher Sarah Costa. Then, Jen Babish grounded into a force play at second for the second out.

Smardon, who had singled and struck out in previous at-bats, hit a shot over the left fielder's head that rolled toward the fence.

The fence, however, ends a few feet before the foul line. The ball rolled between the foul line and the end of the fence into a parking lot.

Alex King, running for the pitcher Babish, had scored and Smardon would have at least tripled had the ball stopped at the fence. Instead, King had to return to third base and Smardon had to settle for what was called a ground-rule double.

"I guess the parking lot doesn't count as a home run," said Smardon, who hit a grand slam earlier this season against Glenelg.

"She was robbed," said Zitnay, who got the next batter to ground out to end the threat.

In the seventh, Atholton loaded the bases against Babish, who struck out three and walked three in the game. But it was, really, the only time in the game the Raiders didn't come through.

Wilde Lake put runners on first and second with one on in the seventh, but Smardon's line drive to center was caught by Erin Caffrey, who threw to second base to double up the runner and end the game.

"I don't mind losing the game, but we lost our poise and that's what I didn't like," said Milio. "Atholton played a nice game. They made the plays when they had to make them, and that was the difference."

Atholton first baseman Kelly Kemp, one of five freshmen, played very well. She dug out several throws in the dirt for outs and, in the seventh inning, caught a wide throw by freshman third baseman Stacy DeFino and managed to tag the runner steps from the bag.

"This game shows what we're capable of doing," said Zitko.

Pub Date: 4/15/99

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