Smith hurls Riv. Hill to win

Senior holds Mt. Hebron to 3 hits over 7 innings in Hawks' 3-1 victory

Softball

High Schools

April 16, 2002|By Kevin Van Valkenburg | Kevin Van Valkenburg,SUN STAFF

When she's healthy, River Hill pitcher Kelly Smith has a nasty fastball that can make even the best hitters look silly.

And even when she's nursing a sore shoulder, as she was yesterday, Smith can pitch on guts and heart, and still make opposing hitters look silly.

The senior hurler held host Mount Hebron to only three hits over seven innings, drove in a run and scored another run in extra innings to help River Hill grit out a 3-1 victory. Smith struck out six before giving way to Stephanie Hass, who pitched a scoreless eighth to earn the save.

"I was kind of nervous because it was my first game pitching since I hurt my shoulder," said Smith, who played second base for two games while getting it checked out by a specialist. "It's not really serious, but it's still a little sore. I've been doing some physical therapy and just taking it day by day. It felt pretty good today."

The bat felt pretty good in Smith's hands too. In the third inning, the Hawks pounded out four hits off Vikings pitcher Jess Lewis, and took a 1-0 lead when Smith knocked in Melissa Keese with a two-out single.

From there, Lewis and Smith squared off in what quickly became one of the best pitching duels of the county season. River Hill (7-1) didn't seriously threaten again in regulation, and Mount Hebron (3-5) had only one hit going into the bottom of the seventh.

But with the pressure on, the Vikings' bats finally came alive. Karen Kries and Alex O'Donnell smacked back-to-back singles into center field and minutes later Kries tied the game by scoring on a wild pitch.

"For whatever reason, we seem to be really slow starters," Kries said. "We have a lot of confidence that we can come back, but I think we'd do a lot better if we'd approach the beginning of the game with the same intensity we do that last two innings. When we start hitting, our bats can be lethal."

In the eighth, the Hawks grabbed the lead back for good when senior third baseman Megan Mitchell knocked in Robin Smith with an RBI groundout, and then River Hill added an insurance run when Kelly Smith scored on a groundout by Nicole Mele.

Hawks catcher Danielle Thacker, who was starting for the first time this season, had an excellent game behind the plate, throwing out a runner trying to steal and blocking several tough pitches in the dirt with runners on base.

"I thought Kelly pitched really well today," Thacker said. "She didn't worry about her shoulder; she just took it pitch by pitch. When she does that, she's really tough to hit. I think we showed as a team today that we'll fight to the very end to win games. "

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