G. Burnie gains county final

Gophers top N. County in 8 innings, 2-1, will meet Chesapeake for title

Softball

High School

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

Tina Willis has been the spark plug for the Glen Burnie softball team's stretch run toward a berth in the county championship game.

Yesterday, the senior pitcher got some help from her teammates as senior Stephanie Stoll and sophomore Amber Stapler delivered crucial RBIs to lift the visiting and No. 6 Gophers to a 2-1 win in eight innings against fifth-ranked North County.

The victory gives Glen Burnie the second and final spot in tomorrow's title game at 5:15 p.m. at Randazzo Park in Severn.

The Gophers (14-5 overall and 12-4 in the county) earned the right to meet top-ranked Chesapeake in the championship game by capturing their ninth victory in the last 10 contests.

"It's a great feeling," Stoll said of the opportunity to play for the crown. "We haven't been there since my sophomore year. We won it that year, and we want to win it again."

Glen Burnie's familiar formula of pitching and defense was on display again yesterday.

Willis (7-3) struck out nine Knights batters and allowed just three singles. In her last five starts, Willis has struck out 61 hitters and given up just eight hits.

Defensively, the Gophers neutralized three straight North County threats between the fifth and seventh innings.

With a scoreless tie in the eighth inning and senior Jen Ashcom at second base (in extra-inning games, the batter who makes the last out in the previous inning starts the next inning on second), Ashcom moved to third when a Knights fielding error allowed sophomore Beth Slater to reach first safely.

Stoll then hit a fly to right field that was deep enough for Ashcom to score and Slater to move to second.

Stapler followed with a single to left field that drove in Slater.

Glen Burnie coach Bob Broccolino was delighted to see his No. 7 and 9 batters contribute.

"Stoll and Stapler hadn't hit all year, but Tina wasn't hitting well today," he said. "So they picked it up for us."

North County (14-5, 10-5 overall) cut the lead in half in the eighth when sophomore Danielle Martinez laced a two-out single to left field to drive in senior Julie Krieger.

But Willis, who outdueled Knights senior Brittany Boyd (7-3), induced junior Shannon Conwell into sending a soft flare to Stapler at shortstop and ending the game.

Afterward, Knights coach Bobby Boyd credited Willis with squashing his team's bid for the spot in the title game.

"We had a couple of opportunities that we didn't capitalize on, and you have to give Tina credit," he said. "In the four years I've seen her pitch, that's the best game she's ever thrown."

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