Montgomery Blair High School's Online Student Newspaper
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May 6, 2005

Michelle Linford pitches a perfect game

by Michael Bushnell, Page Editor

Tonight was Senior Night here at Blair, and Emily O'Brien, the only senior on the softball team was honored with a large sign that hung on the centerfield wall proclaiming this evening to be "Emily Night." And while O'Brien did have a great game, it was really Michelle Linford Night and a night for history, as she pitched a perfect game in the 10-0 Mercy Rule-shortened Blair win.

It was not immediately known when the last perfect game was at Blair. All Blair (12-3) manager Louis Hoelman could say to that question was "I don't know…a long time," with a smirk of disbelief on his face.

In fact, since Blazer Field's scoreboard doesn't show runs, hits and errors, combined with a crowd that was moving between baseball and the concession stands and this game a lot, many fans didn't even realize that Linford had pitched a perfect game until it was announced on the Public Address system after the final out.

Greg Breads, a senior who arrived late to the game, came up to the announcer's table and was shocked to hear Linford had been perfect. "She pitched a perfect game? Really?" he wondered.

She really did, and Hoelman said Linford was "amazing" tonight. She struck out ten Cavaliers (0-12) on the night, and didn't allow a single ball to be hit to an outfielder. Linford struck out the side in the third and sixth innings.

"She was dominant, plain and simple," Hoelman stated, glowing with pride from a complete Blazer win.

Blair ended the game half an inning early after O'Brien stole home off a wild pitch to score the tenth run of the game in the bottom of the sixth to put the Blazers up on Kennedy 10-0. That was a wide enough lead to trigger the Mercy Rule, which ended the game right there.

The Blazers had been slowly getting to that plateau, scoring four runs in the fourth and two in the sixth. Kennedy's pitcher Jesse Morrison was somehow making Blazers struggle to hit her incredibly slow and often wildly inaccurate pitches.

What Blair did better on offense tonight than anything else was take advantage of Kennedy's errors. In the bottom of the second inning, Anna Szapiro stole home and Allison Rubin came around from second base to score after the Cavalier battery mates left home unattended between pitches.

Sarah Rumbaugh appeared fully recovered from an ankle injury, as she took home on a wild pitch in the bottom of the fourth. Shante Henderson went to the plate on a passed ball in the same half inning. Juliet Garlow scored off a passed ball as well, and O'Brien's run off a wild pitch ended the game.

Hoelman said that on those plays, the Blazers "just played smart and saw an opening and got it. It's easier to steal against a team like this," he said, likely because the Morrison's throws took to long to get to the plate. Blair stole 11 bases tonight, their best output at home this season.

He also felt that all the runs would help the team's psyche. "Stealing home is a good confidence builder."

But the Blazers didn't get those runners on base by playing small ball. The team had 10 hits tonight, with- oh, the irony- Linford being the only starter not to get on base. O'Brien hit a double to the left field wall in the first, and Henderson had doubles in the third and fourth innings.

"We hit the ball up and down the lineup tonight," Hoelman said. He continued, "Instead of popping up pitches and fouling balls off early because [Morrison] was slow, we hit the ball very solidly tonight. I'm very happy."

Looking ahead with three games left to play in four days, Hoelman says that the Blazers need to be focused on getting a first-round playoff bye, something awarded to the top four teams in the county. "We have to win our final three games to get the number three seed in the playoffs and that bye," he said.

With a game at Quince Orchard on Saturday and then two in two days Monday and Tuesday to close out the 2005 season, Hoelman said that a quality performance was imperative tonight. "We've been stressing playing well and we didn't have a great game like this in a while. We wanted to play well tonight and we did."

Hoelman again said he wasn't sure when the last time a Blair pitcher threw a perfect game, but he's probably not sure when the softball team itself was this good.

"Maybe never. It's been a long time."

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  • ' 07 on May 7, 2005 at 8:02 PM
    Yeah Blazers! Great job Michelle and Juliet! Go Shante! *the crowd cheers*
  • '05 on May 8, 2005 at 9:57 AM
    way to rep, emily!
    don't let the sophomores steal your spotlight!
  • bf on May 8, 2005 at 1:24 PM
    i love you emily! you are my softball heroine
  • Alicia on May 8, 2005 at 6:00 PM
    I luv ya em :)
  • 06 on May 8, 2005 at 8:59 PM
    you say that she struck out ten people twice in one paragraph...correct it please
  • fan on May 9, 2005 at 8:37 AM
  • Michael Bushnell (View Email) on May 9, 2005 at 12:44 PM
    06, I dont see it...where is it? I beleive you that its there, cuz repetition is something I tend to do sometimes.
  • Anonymous on May 9, 2005 at 1:44 PM
    what year is linford
  • yea yea on May 9, 2005 at 10:09 PM
    linford reps 07
  • Luke on May 10, 2005 at 12:53 AM
    "incredibly slow and often wildly inaccurate pitches" might be true, but soften it up a little. kennedy got blown out, they're 0-12. come on. give the poor girls a break. you can be pro-blair, but never be anti-opponent, unless the opponent has done something bad like be unsportsmanlike.
  • toluke on May 10, 2005 at 2:24 PM
    if it's true, its true. journalism isnt about being nice, it's about being accurate.
  • Michael Bushnell (View Email) on May 10, 2005 at 4:08 PM
    toluke, thanks for the support, but Luke's right; its important in a high school paper to not get too hard on these people. They're amateurs and its vital that I toe the line of being accurate while also not being hypercritical. I've always harped on being soft on the kids, and I could have and should have gone easier on her in retrospect.
  • John Willmott (View Email) on May 10, 2005 at 4:11 PM
    Luke, given how the game played out, I wouldn't be surprised if Mike WAS giving them a break.
  • 05 on May 10, 2005 at 6:47 PM
    so why arent there any seniors on the team???
  • fan on May 12, 2005 at 8:00 AM
    because most of the quit.
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