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April 27, 2005

Blazers bedevil Springbrook offense and win again

by Michael Bushnell, Page Editor
APRIL 26- BLAZER FIELD

During their 9-2 start this season, Blair has been able to adjust to and win almost any type of game. Last Thursday, despite pitcher Annie Denenberg allowing seven runs, the Blazers scored 16 to rout Magruder. Tonight, they won the polar opposite of that game, getting great pitching, alert fielding and clutch hits to win a 2-1 pitchers duel against the Springbrook Blue Devils.

The 9-2 start is the best varsity record of any sport this whole school year.

The Blazers (9-2) never dominated tonight but they also never were in serious trouble, getting a run early and playing clean baseball behind another masterful pitching performance by Michelle Linford, now 5-1 on the season.

She pitched another complete game tonight, allowing just three hits and a walk, while striking out six. The only run she gave up was unearned. Blair manager Louis Hoelman called her performance “really gutsy pitching.?

Blair got out in front in the bottom of the third inning thanks to another mix of bunting, good base running and clutch hitting; a strategy that has been the crux of the Blazers' offensive attack all season. Sara Pierce singled and took second when Sarah Rumbaugh, back after missing four games with an injured ankle, laid down a bunt base hit.

After a double steal, Claire Lieberman ripped a line drive between the shortstop and third baseman, scoring Pierce easily. Rumbaugh reached third but got caught between the base and home plate in a rundown. After a Springbrook third baseman Kelly Callan bobbled a throw, Rumbaugh broke for the plate.

But Rumbaugh was gunned down at home easily thanks to a perfect throw by pitcher Laura Dillon, backing up Callan on the rundown. Catcher Annie Spiller applied the tag to retire Rumbaugh, but Pierce's run gave Blair the lead at 1-0.

Linford also helped hold the Devils scoreless up to that point. In the top half of the third, she allowed a triple to the center field wall by Spiller. But with two outs, she battled back and struck out Jackie King on a tense seven pitch at bat to end the inning.

Hoelman praised Linford after the game. “I think Michelle bounced back great for us after some tough plays, and it saved the game for us.?

But not even Linford could save Blair from the only run they allowed tonight. In the top of the fourth, Dillon singled to center, but the ball took a strange hop over Rumbaugh, who had squatted to field it. The ball rolled all the way to the fence, and Dillon easily made her way home on the three base error.

After venting some frustration by, in bench coach Kristin Werdann's estimation, “over pitching? to the next batter, Cindy Craver, and walking her, Linford settled down and didn't allow another hit the rest of the game.

The momentum swung back in the Blazers' favor in that same half inning. Lieberman threw a dart to second to catch Craver stealing for the second out of the fourth, and then Anna Szapiro fielded a tough grounder at shortstop and rifled to first to end the frame without further damage, raising the spirits of a Blair bench that was dejected just two batters earlier.

Blair got back in the lead to stay in the bottom of the inning with more clutch hits. Emily O'Brien doubled to the centerfield wall. And with two outs, Szapiro tripled to deep left-center field to score O'Brien and put the Blazers ahead 2-1, the final score.

Following Szapiro's hit, Werdann noted why Blair's earned their lofty record. “The hits keep coming at the right time,? she said.

Linford allowed only one base runner after Craver for the rest of the game. Annie Denenberg made an errant throw at second base in the seventh, but Linford was unfazed, striking out the next batter and getting Michelle Katski to ground out to end the game.

Hoelman praised his team's solid fundamental skills and the general clean play that was the theme of the game tonight. “That's the way softball should be played,? he said, adding that it was “well pitched and very well played.?

The six hits for Blair tonight were spread among six different players and all but one Blazer in the lineup reached base. O'Brien had 11 put outs at first base and Linford converted all four assists in the field on tough come-backers to the pitching mound.

“The fielding was great, everything was,? Hoelman said, smiling from ear to ear after the win. “This team is so young and it's only going to get better from here.?

Nearly 60% of the way into the season, it's about time to assess Blair's playoff chances. To that Hoelman said, “if the team continues to improve, we're going to be really scary come playoff time.?




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  • Anarchist on April 27, 2005 at 4:12 PM
    Boys Volleyball started 8-1 (and were 8-0). Are they not a varsity sport?
  • emily ob (View Email) on April 27, 2005 at 8:17 PM
    yay blair softball!

    good article mike, best one yet.

    and saul, chill!
  • vball on April 27, 2005 at 9:14 PM
    no respect for boys vball, and we got the divisional trophy last year too!
  • I GOT YOUR BACK H on April 28, 2005 at 10:13 AM
    Wow YAY FOR VOLLEYBALL! There's your due respect. Stop trying to put one school team over against another. Maybe you should get more ink, but that doesn't mean you have to take away from the softball teams success and hard work by writing on the bottom of THEIR article about Volleyball. When you guys get a write up, I have yet to see a softball player write "you missed our game last night" on the bottom of your page...Stop with the immaturity, we all go to the same school, be happy that we have some succesful teams here, regaurdless of who takes the majority of the ink... Game, Set, Match...
  • JacksonH on April 28, 2005 at 10:16 AM
    If my math is correct, the girls softball team has gotten 5 write ups this year, to the boys volleyball's 6, hmmm....
  • Anarchist on April 29, 2005 at 1:17 AM
    No chillin required. I'm merely correcting this statement:

    "The 9-2 start is the best varsity record of any sport this whole school year."

    Boys Volleyball is 9-1. Unless they aren't a varsity sport, this statement is wrong. SCO should'nt print wrong things.

    I don't mean any disrespect to Blair's softball team.
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