Unbeaten N. Carroll holds off Liberty, 4-2

Panthers improve to 6-0 behind Honkofsky, Smith


April 15, 2003|By Mike Keegan | Mike Keegan,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

Minutes before North Carroll's softball game against Liberty yesterday, Panthers shortstop Allie Honkofsky walked over to the bleachers to say hello to her summer league coach. As she walked back to the dugout, she apologized in advance, just in case her hitless streak against Liberty continued.

It didn't. Honkofsky finished 3-for-3, made perfect base-running decisions and was involved in every run No. 6 North Carroll scored in its 4-2 win over the visiting Lions.

"Probably because [my summer coach] was here," Honkofsky said. "I had to do good or he'd sit me this summer."

The Panthers (6-0, 6-0 Central Maryland Conference, 4-0 Carroll County) got another strong pitching performance from sophomore Jessica Smith. Smith, an All-County selection in 2002, struck out nine, walked two and allowed five hits. She had a shutout through six innings before giving up two two-out runs in the seventh.

"[Smith's] really fast, really accurate and has several different pitches," said Liberty's Diane Krainak, whose triple wiped out Smith's shutout. "The [pitch] that dropped was getting us a lot of the time."

Liberty (5-3, 3-3, 0-2) fell to the 2002 Class 3A state runner-up for the second time this season. Jamie Gardner pitched the first three innings for Liberty, striking out three but giving up four runs. Lauren Locklear pitched three shutout innings in relief, giving up three hits.

Earlier this spring, the Panthers beat Liberty, 1-0. North Carroll coach Lloyd Ford said his team is starting to hit the ball a little better , giving his pitching staff some breathing room.

"It's nice when a team kind of wakes up and gets some nice hits in the last inning to have a cushion," Ford said of Liberty's late rally.

The cushion came, thanks in large part, to Honkofsky, a 2002 All-County selection. With two out in the bottom of the first inning, she singled to left. After stealing second, Honkofsky scored when Emily Trainor doubled to right-center, giving the Panthers a 1-0 lead.

In the third, with Kristin Mathis and Jessica Pickard on second and third, respectively, Honkofsky blooped a single to shallow right, scoring Pickard and advancing Mathis to third.

Then, with Trainor at the plate, Honkofsky intentionally got caught in a rundown between first and second, allowing Mathis to dash home. As Liberty tried to tag Mathis at the plate, Honkofsky powered around the bases, beating Lion catcher Kristen White's throw to third. Honkofsky scored on Ashley DeVilbiss' two-out single for a 4-0 lead.

"We practice that," Honkofsky said. "And it worked perfectly."

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