Upswing continues in shutout of Rockville
MAY 4, MONTGOMERY BLAIR STADIUM-
In the bottom of the sixth inning, with a mercy-rule victory in sight and two runners on, junior catcher Emily O'Brien came up to bat. She wasted little time in hitting the farthest shot a Blair softball player has ever hit in Coach Louis Hoelman's tenure, just three feet short of an out-of-the-park home run. Her shot scored both runners and the Blazers were up 9-0, a run away from their eventual 10-0, six-inning defeat of the Rockville Rams.
The Blazers played an excellent game defensively after a few minor mishaps early on. Senior second baseman Anna Schoenfelder continued to come into her own with several excellent plays in the field. But the team looked solid as a unit, even after freshman Shante Henderson replaced freshman Annie Denenberg at third in the fourth inning.
Also, O'Brien and freshman pitcher Michelle Linford began communicating better than they have all season. Linford has also begun to pitch strategically, rather than relying on her power, as she had earlier in the year. And it showed: She had five strikeouts in six innings of work and was less frequently behind in the count than she has been.
The victory was the Blazers' fourth straight, a considerable streak, especially coming out of a brutal stretch against Blair's toughest division competition that dropped the Blazers two games below .500 and saw them slaughtered twice, by Richard Montgomery and Sherwood. Hoelman summed the turnaround up succinctly: "We're really starting to play well as a team."
"Every team strives to play that perfect game," he said. "We still haven't hit all the way through the lineup or played a perfect game of defense. But once we do that, we'll be tough to beat."
The Blazers' small-ballers executed well from the start. Senior Amy Ernst walked to open the game, and then scored on a sac bunt by senior Marianne Epstein. Ernst scored again in the third on a steal home, and Epstein followed on a sac fly by Linford, which was dropped in the outfield. Linford then stole each base on the next play, a three-base error by the Rams' defense. Freshman Anna Szapiro continued hitting well, stroking a two-run double to put Blair up 6-0 in the bottom of the third.
But when swinging for the fences, as a few of Blair's power hitters are wont to do, the Blazers had a little more trouble. That's not to say they struggled—O'Brien, Szapiro and a few others certainly hit the ball hard—the girls just weren't hitting it where they ain't.
It didn't matter, though, because even when Rockville got runners in scoring position the Blazers came together and crushed any potential rally with heads-up plays and quality pitching.
The season is coming to a close (there are four games left), and the Blazers' entering the playoffs on an eight-game winning streak is not out of the question. Blair next plays at Kennedy, tomorrow at 5:15.
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 »