Minus ace, Atholton falls to N. Caroline

With Zitnay injured, Raiders denied again in return trip to final, 10-0

Class 2A softball

May 30, 2001|By Derek Toney | Derek Toney,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

In the end, Atholton's hopes of a state championship were ruined by the right arm of Lacey Lister and a water bottle.

For the second straight season, the No. 5 Raiders came up short in the state Class 2A final, dropping a 10-0 decision to North Caroline of Caroline County yesterday at Randazzo Park in Severn.

The Bulldogs (23-1), from the Eastern Shore, needed only five innings to capture their third state title, leaving Atholton (22-3) and Howard County again without an inaugural championship.

Atholton was on the verge a year ago, leading Easton 1-0 heading into the seventh inning, but lost, 2-1. Yesterday's defeat wasn't as much of a heartbreaker, but the circumstances leading to the Raiders' season finale were disheartening.

Atholton was minus ace Katie Zitnay, one of the area's premier pitchers. The junior was hit in the right eye by an errant water bottle while in the audience of a rock concert at RFK Stadium on Memorial Day. Zitnay, who went 22-2 this season, has a blood clot in her eye and is on bed rest until this weekend.

The Raiders had to move starting catcher Sarah Costa to the mound, where the senior had played little this spring. After a rough start, Costa improved before North Caroline scored seven runs in the bottom of the fifth to invoke the 10-run rule and end the game.

"We were in a position to win last year. This year, we were in a position where we had to try to survive," said Atholton coach John Zitko. "I think this year, it was emotionally harder because of what happened to Katie."

Though the loss of Zitnay hurt their chances, the Raiders had a huge obstacle in Lister. Considered one of the state's best, the junior held Atholton to one hit and struck out 13 to finish 20-0.

Atholton's Kelly Kemp, who switched from first base to catcher, had the lone hit off Lister with a ground single to right-center field in the fifth inning. Lister had 28 strikeouts in two victories at Randazzo.

The Bulldogs presented Lister with all the support she would need in the first inning. With one out, North Caroline loaded the bases, and Lauren Petrick got a RBI on an infield single. A grounder by Sarah Minner led to a force at the plate, but Kemp's throw to first hit Minner in the back, allowing Molly Garrett to score.

In the fifth, North Caroline combined three singles with five walks to finish the Raiders.

"We're proud of where we came," said Costa, who's headed to Salisbury State. "You take what you're given. The circumstances weren't there, but we played our hearts out."

Atholton 000 00 - 0 1 3

North Caroline 210 07 - 10 7 0

Costa and Kemp; Lister and Rementer.

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