End of Raber's hitting slump powers No. 6 Northeast, 4-0

2-run homer, Duvall's 11 Ks stymie Thomas Johnson

Softball

April 07, 2002|By Edward Lee | Edward Lee,SUN STAFF

Northeast sophomore LeeAnn Raber dealt with her recent hitting woes the only way she knew how: working hard and staying positive.

Her perseverance paid off yesterday with a two-run home run that propelled the sixth-ranked Eagles to a 4-0 victory over host Thomas Johnson.

Raber's opposite-field blast to right field ended a four-game run of futility at the plate.

"I've been in kind of a slump," said the center fielder, who credited her teammates' support and 200 swings at Friday's practice for helping her end the spell. "I would make contact, but I wouldn't get any decent hits. I guess [the home run] was all of my energy that had built up."

Perhaps more importantly, Raber's heroics allowed Northeast to end a two-game losing skid and improve to 4-3. The Eagles lost just four games last season en route to winning the Anne Arundel County championship and reaching the Class 3A state finals.

"Going into next week with this under our belts will help us get back on track," said Northeast coach Marianne Shultz, who graduated six starters from last year's team. "This helps you get a positive attitude."

The good vibes began early yesterday. With two out and senior Courtney Hancock on third base in the second inning, Raber drilled a 2-2 pitch from Patriots junior pitcher Dawn Trabing into right field. Raber scored standing up to give the Eagles a 2-0 lead.

Northeast scored two more runs in the next inning.

After Jamie Lupinek grounded out to open the frame, Kristin Duvall reached first base on a fielding error. Duvall moved to second base on a passed ball and scored on a single by Melissa Tewey, who advanced to second on the relay throw to home plate.

Junior Megan Lucas' groundout allowed Tewey to reach third base, and freshman Kelsey Beall drew a walk.

Trabing's first pitch to Hancock skidded past senior catcher Jessica Hahn and Tewey scored from third base. But Beall was tagged out at third base to end the inning.

The Eagles blanked Thomas Johnson thanks to Duvall, who struck out 11 batters and was two singles and a walk away from a perfect game.

"We're very young," said Duvall. "It's a good sign that we can rebound because it shows a lot of maturity."

Coach Steve Nibbs chastised his Patriots (2-3) for four errors.

"We have got to correct giving teams extra outs and extra opportunities," he said. "If a team gets [three] hits, they shouldn't be getting four runs in a ballgame."

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