Northeast closes in on another title

Smith tosses two-hitter in 2-1 win over T. Stone

North Carroll up next

3A softball

May 26, 1999|By Glenn P. Graham | Glenn P. Graham,SUN STAFF

One at-bat is all that's needed to sum up Northeast's nervy 2-1 win over Thomas Stone of Charles County in last night's Class 3A state semifinal at Randazzo Park.

It came in the top of the sixth with the No. 1-ranked Eagles clinging to the one-run lead. A runner was on third with one out and Thomas Stone had its clean-up hitter, Kristie Pickeral, at the plate.

"How many foul balls did she hit?" asked Northeast's All-Metro senior pitcher Stacy Smith.

The answer was seven before, finally, on a 3-2 pitch, Smith threw a changeup that Pickeral swung through. Smith won the battle and the Eagles (23-2) went on to win the right to play for the program's ninth state title.

The Eagles will meet North Carroll -- 4-0 winners over Fallston in the other semifinal -- in Friday's championship game at 7 p.m. at Randazzo Park.

They will first let out a big sigh of relief.

Things started out well enough for the Eagles last night with Renee Mrowczynski hitting a one-out, first-inning homer to deep right, sliding in head first at home to just beat the throw.

Deana Benner followed with a triple to center, but the Eagles couldn't push her across and their usually potent attack stalled against Thomas Stone pitcher Erin Waltersdorff.

The Cougars (17-6) tied the game at 1-1 in the fourth with a double from Andrea Brady, a Northeast error moving her to third and a clutch two-out single by Michelle White.

The Eagles answered in the bottom of the fourth with help from the Thomas Stone defense. Amanda Shifflett reached on an error and scored on an error when third baseman Jamie Sims fielded a ground ball and threw wild to second.

Smith did the rest.

She allowed just two hits with 13 strikeouts, including the one everyone will remember in the sixth against Pickeral, who pulled a number of pitches foul down the third-base line before getting fooled on the change.

"It was scary," said Smith. "I was just thinking what should I pitch -- I threw everything. I think that was the second changeup."

After retiring Pickeral, Smith and the Eagles weren't out of the jam yet. White walked and became the go-ahead run when she took second before Smith struck out Amanda Kidwell to end the inning.

Calm was restored in the seventh with Smith getting the Cougars in order, closing the game by striking out Jessica Fallica.

"I was so nervous, but it was great. I wish it was already Friday," said Smith.

Pub Date: 5/26/99

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