Shifflett, Benner join forces as No. 1 Northeast wins title

Early homer, late pitching stops Severna Park, 2-1

May 12, 1999|By Glenn P. Graham | Glenn P. Graham,SUN STAFF

Amanda Shifflett provided two runs with one big swing in the top of the first and pitcher Deana Benner did the rest for top-ranked Northeast, which captured the Anne Arundel county championship with a 2-1 win over No. 3 Severna Park last night at Randazzo Park.

The Eagles improved to 19-2 on the season as they prepare for the Class 3A East region playoffs, set to start on Friday at City.

Last night, Shifflett's two-run homer down the third-base line was all Benner would need as she allowed just five hits with five strikeouts to improve her record to 6-1.

Offense has been coming from Shifflett all season long. She has six homers and has driven in 29 runs to go with six triples and four doubles.

With Rene Springston on third and two out in the first, Shifflett turned on an inside pitch from Amanda Donaldson that quickly found its way into the left-field corner.

"Awesome," said Northeast coach Marianne Shultz. "That had to be no more than six inches off the line."

The senior shortstop was just looking to hit the ball hard.

"I was looking for something to drive and got a ball inside," said Shifflett, who later singled for her 100th career hit. "We wanted to get some runs on the board early and go from there. You don't get many runs off Mandy."

The rest of the night belonged to the pitchers. After the two first-inning hits, Donaldson scattered only four more the rest of the way.

Benner was just a little better. The Falcons finally got to her in the fifth when Meg Freienmuth lined a two-out triple to deep center to score Kim Burke. But Benner regrouped to get Lauren Pollock to ground out to Springston at third to end the inning.

Benner got the Falcons (17-4) in order in the sixth and seventh innings to secure the county championship.

"This is a big deal for us," she said. "I knew all I had to do was make some good pitches and force some grounders because our defense has been solid all year. This gives us a lot of confidence and we're ready for the playoffs."

Severna Park coach Jeff Shepherd is confident his Falcons also are ready for the postseason. They will open the Class 4A East region at No. 2 Arundel on Monday.

"The girls played a great game. We got beat on one hit," said Shepherd. "Amanda Shifflett has been hitting the ball all year long and she hit the ball hard tonight. But we stayed in the game and never quit. We just weren't able to get the big hit."

Northeast, Severna Park and Arundel all finished with 14-2 county marks during the regular season, but the tie-breaker system had Northeast and Severna Park in the county championship.

On Monday, the Falcons will get their chance at the Wildcats after the two teams split two games during the regular season.

"It all goes through Arundel," said Shepherd. "If we play as enthused as we were tonight, I feel we'll be in good shape."

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