Blair softball's first-ever playoff victory still elusive
MAY 14, WHITMAN HIGH SCHOOL—
Tears flowed freely at the end of Blair's heartstopping 6-5 loss to the Whitman Vikings in the first round of the county playoffs. No Blazer softball team has yet won a playoff game, even last year's regular-season division champs. This was all the more heartbreaking, though, because the Blazers, who had mercy-ruled Whitman earlier in the season, seemed to have the game in their grasp.
The team played a nearly flawless game defensively, even with adjustments in the infield that the team started practicing yesterday. Freshman Annie Denenberg replaced senior Anna Schoenfelder at second and freshman Shante Henderson moved into Deneberg's place at third. Blair's lone standout mistake on defense was a missed fly ball that fell between senior co-captains Becca Feiden and Marianne Epstein in right-center.
The offense was another story; the team simply could not seem to hit into the gaps. Almost every time one of the girls made strong contact it either went foul or went right to a Whitman player. Coach Louis Hoelman racked the Blazers' inability to produce runs early to rough breaks at the plate. "Early on, when we had runners on base but we couldn't get them across the plate, it wasn't because of bad at-bats. It was just some tough luck," he said. For most of the game, the Blazers' strong defense balanced the unfortunate hitting.
But in the fifth, with Blair up 3-0 after some great base running and a great hit by senior Katharine Epstein, Whitman went on a roll. The Vikings scored all six of their runs in that inning. Freshman pitcher Michelle Linford suddenly fell out of her rhythm, throwing two passed balls for runs and also walking in a batter. Whitman also had three solid hits that, unlike the Blazers', fell between fielders.
The score remained 6-3 through the sixth despite a double by Denenberg, but in the seventh the Blazers started to come back. Leadoff hitter and co-captain Amy Ernst walked and then sprinted to third on Feiden's bunt. Marianne Epstein flied out and Linford went down swinging. But the Blazers weren't done quite yet. Junior catcher Emily O'Brien walked and then Katharine Epstein hit a double to score Ernst and Feiden. Suddenly it was 6-5, and the game seemed in reach. But Henderson grounded out to third.
Among his players' tears after the game, Hoelman was smiling. "As a coach, all you can expect out of your players is to give it their all," he said in explanation. "They did it in the off-season and they worked and tried so hard. The only sadness I feel is that it's over, and that we're too good for it to be over."
Luke Bostian. Luke Bostian is a senior in CAP and has nothing much to say for himself. Well, actually, that's a lie. Luke has a lot to say for himself and says it all the time. So he won't bore you with it. Suffice it to say … More »