Dronenburg gets back on track, lifts Howard over River Hill, 6-2


April 18, 2002|By Kevin Van Valkenburg | Kevin Van Valkenburg,SUN STAFF

Let's be clear: Howard catcher Tee Dronenburg didn't forget how to hit during a recent slump. She just forgot how good it felt.

Yesterday against River Hill, she gave herself a nice little reminder.

Dronenburg, a first-team All-Howard County selection last year, had two big hits off Hawks pitcher Kelly Smith and drove in two runs as the Lions pounded out an impressive 6-2 victory at River Hill.

The win wasn't surprising - Howard (7-2) got another solid performance from pitcher Kristin Gormus - but the way the Lions did it was impressive. After falling behind 2-0 in the third, Howard battled back to score six runs over the final three innings, getting seven hits off Smith, one of the league's best.

"This game was huge," Dronenburg said. "We knew we had to win this game if we wanted to stay in the county race. A lot of games we get runners in scoring position, but we leave them there. Today, we got runners on base and actually drove them in."

But not at the start of the game. In the first three innings, Howard had a runner reach third with less than two outs, but each time the Lions failed to score. It looked like it would cost them in the third inning when the Hawks scored two runs on back-to-back-to-back doubles by Robin Smith, Kelly Smith and Megan Mitchell.

"Kristin knew that everyone gives up a few hits here and there; she just needed to keep her composure," Dronenburg said.

Kelly Smith had a few shaky moments also, walking four Howard hitters, but whereas Howard's defense bailed out Gormus a few times, River Hill's didn't do the same for Smith. The usually disciplined Hawks made two errors, missed the cutoff man a few times and failed to get the lead runner several times on groundouts with runners on base.

In the fifth, Howard's bats finally broke free after Jamie Wolfe led off the inning with a walk. Beth Myers singled, then Gormus drove home Wolfe on an RBI groundout. Dronenburg knocked in Myers with a deep single, and two batters later Kelly Frierert made the score 3-2 with a single that brought in Dronenburg.

Once she had the lead, Gormus cruised, but Howard tacked on three more runs in the seventh, getting an RBI double off the fence from Dronenburg and a RBI single from Frierert.

"Tee hadn't hit well the last three, so it was just a matter of time until she busted out," said Lions coach Dave Vezzi. "She came through with a big hit whenever we needed it today."

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