Westminster shuts out Franklin, 7-0

No. 9 Indians strand 11 on base, lose first game

Moeller leads No. 10 Owls

Softball

High School

May 08, 2002|By Rich Scherr | Rich Scherr,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

Westminster coach Bryan Shumaker told his softball players to treat yesterday's regular-season finale at No. 9 Franklin as if it were a playoff game.

In a 7-0 victory over the previously unbeaten Indians, the No. 10 Owls showed they're at least adept at handling one aspect of the postseason - the pressure.

In all seven innings, Franklin put at least one runner in scoring position. All seven times, Westminster starting pitcher Nichol Moeller found a way to get out of the jam, time and again making big pitches to preserve the shutout.

"[Nichol] really bears down. She really gets very precise," Shumaker said. "You don't see her get one up or just float it inside. She's hitting her spots, and probably getting hitters to hit pitches they're not really wanting to. Nicole and Casey [catcher Casey Brengle] have been through this, and they kind of know how to go to work on hitters."

Moeller retired 15 of the 16 batters she faced with runners in scoring position. All told, the Indians stranded 11 runners on base, including eight at second or third.

"You've got to concentrate more [in those situations], but we have a solid defense, so I don't get too worried about it," Moeller said.

Conversely, after spending much of their season hitting into hard-luck outs, the Owls finally capitalized on a consistent basis, with Brengle coming up with RBI singles in each of her first three at-bats and Megan Taylor chipping in with a two-run single in the fourth - all off Franklin starter C.J. Luers.

"We've had a lot of hard-hit balls that haven't been dropping, so it was nice to see some of the ones that were less hard-hit drop in," said Shumaker, whose team was coming off a doubleheader split with South Carroll on Monday. "I guess you could say we're pretty opportunistic in our hitting."

"They made plays defensively when they had to, and we didn't," said Franklin coach David Turybury, whose team wasted one-out triples by Katron O'Neill and Wendy Stahl.

Westminster (12-6) begins its defense of the Class 4A state title on Friday when it travels to Old Mill for the opening round of the East Regional. The winner will face top-ranked Chesapeake-Anne Arundel.

The Indians (15-1) will travel to Eastern Tech today for the Baltimore County championship game before opening the 3A North playoffs by playing host to Bel Air on Monday.

"You never want to lose, but we scheduled this game for today so we could almost have a playoff atmosphere," Turybury said. "We haven't had that many tough games against decent pitching ... so it worked out very nicely. It should be a wake-up call for us."

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