Long Reach wins 4th straight by topping No. 13 Atholton, 5-1

Four runs in third inning break Raiders, winners of past four county titles

Softball

High Schools

April 22, 2003|By Edward Lee | Edward Lee,SUN STAFF

At the beginning of the season, Long Reach softball coach Chuck Struhar wasn't sure what team he would see this spring.

What Struhar saw yesterday brought a smile to his face as his Lightning upended No. 13 and visiting Atholton, 5-1.

The win was the fourth straight for Long Reach (5-4 overall, 5-3 county).

"We're getting good," said Struhar, whose team finished last year 6-15 overall, 5-13 in the county. "I didn't think we'd be good at the beginning because we were young and inexperienced. But we're getting good now."

That Long Reach beat a Raiders program that had captured the past four county championships also spoke volumes to Lightning sophomore third baseman Jessica Granek.

"Long Reach has always been in the middle of the pack," said Granek, who was the offensive hero with two singles in three at-bats and a run scored. "Beating a team like Atholton means a lot to us right now."

With the score tied at 1, the Lightning tagged Atholton freshman right-hander Nicole Massarelli (2-3) for four runs in the bottom of the third inning.

Senior second baseman Melanie Harrison opened with a bunt. Senior shortstop Crystal Buckingham slapped a grounder to Raiders junior third baseman Kelly Halstead, but her throw to junior second baseman Kitty Steger was too late to catch Harrison.

Atholton converted a grounder by senior center fielder Jessica Boettcher into a force of Harrison at third base, but Granek followed with a single to right field to load the bases. Junior first baseman Jordan Ambrose then coaxed Massarelli to throw four straight balls, scoring Buckingham.

Two pitches later, sophomore catcher Nadine French dropped a single into shallow center field, and Boettcher scored.

Massarelli struck out senior left fielder Nicole Guyton for one of her six strikeouts, but junior right fielder Sharneice Gross blooped a single to right field to plate Granek.

Massarelli's next offering bounced into the dirt and skipped past junior catcher Meaghan Murphy, allowing Ambrose to score the game's final run.

Long Reach freshman right-hander Amy Guyton (4-2) gave up just two hits and struck out five.

The loss dropped the Raiders (6-4, 4-3) behind No. 6 Glenelg (6-0 county), Mount Hebron (3-1) and Long Reach.

"We have the talent," said Atholton coach Maureen Shacreaw. "We have to step it up and put it away."

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