Century softball finishes strong



To Century softball coach Kristy Hinkle, the memories of a blowout loss in the state semifinals can't compare with those of her team's improbable run to make it to that point.

After starting the season 3-5, the Knights, behind the pitching of senior Kristy Witten, began to play better in the second half of the season. Along the way, they topped eventual county champion Westminster, perennial contender North Carroll and defeated county power Francis Scott Key three times, including a 10-0 win in the Class 2A West regional finals.

Despite finishing the regular season just 9-11, they came within one game of the state finals. No other Century team had ever made it past the regional quarterfinals.

"It was surreal to be able to realize that we actually made it that far," Hinkle said. "A lot of people didn't expect us to get this far, but I knew that if we were, that this was the team that was going to do it."

Hinkle said the turning point came around midseason, when her team beat 2005 state semifinalist Westminster, 5-2.

"The way that we looked at it was, it's a new season, it's a new half, it's a new team - we're just going to start from there," she said. "That's when the girls picked it up and started bringing everything."

Hinkle said players became more aggressive running the bases, showed more patience at the plate and improved their play in the field.

Of course, that was little consolation after a 15-1 loss to Easton in the state semifinals. Though the team will lose eight players to graduation, Hinkle is hoping the experience will help those who return next season.

"They're going to be able to say, `OK, we got this far. Now next year when we get there, we're not going to be as jittery,' " Hinkle said.

Blizzard's big season

It took Carroll Christian's Storm Blizzard several weeks to fully recover from the broken collarbone he suffered last winter. Once at full strength, however, there were few leadoff men in the county who were any better.

In 13 games, the senior shortstop hit .500, with eight extra-base hits, 14 RBIs and 24 steals in 25 attempts. He also went 2-1 as a pitcher.

"He just has a heart for the game," Carroll Christian coach Andrew Reisberg said. "He's one of those kids that, you can do the most boring drill, and he will have fun with it. He's not afraid to work to keep getting better and better."

The hard work paid off recently when Blizzard earned one of 24 spots on Team East of the Mid-Maryland All-Star Baseball Classic, Big School Division. The game was scheduled to take place last night in Hagerstown, where Reisberg was hoping that his three-year captain would catch the eye of scouts.

Blizzard, who grew up playing on travel teams in Hampstead, plans on attending Liberty University in the fall, though his baseball future is up in the air.

The Patriots seem to be in that position, as well. After finishing 9-5 this season, they will lose 11 players to graduation.

Vaulting to gold

In her quest for the Class 3A state crown in the pole vault, Chelsey Truesdell's biggest worry wasn't defending champion Linsey Vollmer of Fallston. The North Carroll senior was most concerned with her own teammate, sophomore Jessica Huber.

Truesdell eventually prevailed, edging out Vollmer and Huber, who finished second and third, respectively. Though both Truesdell and Vollmer cleared 10 feet, Truesdell was declared the winner because she had fewer missed attempts than the Fallston senior.

Still, Truesdell said she never felt comfortable until it was over.

"I don't want this to sound cocky, but Jessica Huber is my main competition," Truesdell said. "She's so close to me. I thought she was going to win today."

The duo, along with Panthers sophomore Sophie Thomas, are friends and competitors at the same time. Yet, Truesdell said there are no secrets between the teammates.

"We don't keep anything from each other, and we tell each other what's going on," she said. "It's not like an evil competition. We're just pushing each other."

Huber finished third with a height of 9 feet, 6 inches.

"It's great to have one of your best friends do something you love," Huber said.

Sun reporter Edward Lee contributed to this article.

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