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Issue Home March 30, 2004 Site Home

Local Sports Scene

Spring Sports Seasons Ready To Open

Elk Lake's baseball team and Blue Ridge's softball team will try to continue their recent success when spring high school sports league play opens throughout the next two weeks.

Elk Lake reached the state Class A baseball championship game last season, a year after Blue Ridge played in the state Class A softball final. The Lady Raiders were unable to return to the state tournament last season despite an unbeaten record in Lackawanna League play.

The Lady Raiders and Warriors were the first Susquehanna County teams to reach the state finals in softball and baseball.

Elk Lake knocked off Blue Ridge in the district softball playoffs on the way to its own state tournament appearance.

In baseball, five of the six County schools go against each other in the Lackawanna League Division III North. Blue Ridge, Elk Lake, Forest City, Mountain View and Susquehanna are joined by Lackawanna Trail in the division.

Montrose plays in Division II along with Carbondale, Dunmore, Lakeland, Mid Valley, Scranton Prep, Valley View and Western Wayne.

Baseball league play is scheduled to open April 5.

The division alignments are similar in softball where the same five County schools and Lackawanna Trail form the Lackawanna Class A North.

Montrose is in the Class AA Division along with Lakeland, Riverside, Scranton Prep, Valley View and West Scranton.

Softball play is scheduled to open Saturday.

The Lackawanna Track Conference has two divisions.

Blue Ridge, Elk Lake, Mountain View and Susquehanna are in Division 2 along with Carbondale, Dunmore, Lackawanna Trail, Mid Valley, Riverside and Western Wayne.

Montrose is in Division 1 with Abington Heights, Delaware Valley, Honesdale, Lakeland, North Pocono, Scranton, Scranton Prep, Valley View, Wallenpaupack and West Scranton.

Track season opens April 5.

Montrose and Elk Lake are the only two county schools with boys' tennis. They compete in the Northeastern Pennsylvania Tennis League Eastern Division with Abington Heights, Bishop Hannan, Dunmore, North Pocono, Riverside, Scranton, Scranton Prep and West Scranton.


Susquehanna County girls dominated the Lackawanna League All-Star Game in Forest City.

Blue Ridge's Brooke Hinkley scored a game-high 19 points, grabbed 11 rebounds and led the North down the stretch as it defeated the South, 96-88.

The other three county girls in the game, Forest City's Amanda Vitzakovitch and Dana Bennett and Mountain View's Leah Simko, were the other players to score in double figures to lead the North. The winning team was coached by Forest City's Carl Urbas.

Hinkley scored 982 points during her career at Blue Ridge, but saw the all-star game as an opportunity to get the 18 more she needed for 1,000 as a high school player.

"It got kind of scary," she said. "There were 20 seconds left in the game and I still needed one point."

Hinkley got two on a lay-up, finishing a closing effort in which she had seven points as the North scored the last nine to erase a late deficit.

"Until the last two minutes, it was still a two-point game," Hinkley said. "Coach said to look inside."

That meant turning to Hinkley.

Vitzakovitch was the early leader of the North offense. She also had the only other basket of the closing run to finish with 15 points.

"She had a very good game," Hinkley said.

Bennett and Simko added 12 and 11.

Hinkley said she looked forward to the opportunity to play in the game with her county rivals and Western Wayne's Erin Waters, a teammate in club volleyball.

It was Waters who set up Hinkley inside to draw a foul and push the lead beyond three points and one possession.

With the successful finish to her basketball career, Hinkley said she has finalized her decision and will be playing volleyball at the University of Scranton. She was a two-time Lackawanna League Player of the Year in volleyball.

In boys' basketball, Jake Beautz of Forest City was on the Division II team which lost to Division I, 120-76, in the Lackawanna League All-Star Game.

The Associated Press all-state boys' basketball team was announced Saturday.

While there were not any county players on the team, there were five players, including three first-teamers, from District 2.

Pat Doherty of Scranton Prep was a first-team pick in Class AAA, Chris Shovlin from Wilkes-Barre GAR in AA and Tim Crossin from state champion Bishop O'Reilly in A.

Grant Carter of Crestwood made the second team in AAA while Vince Scalzo of Northwest made the second team in AA.


Nadine Taylor, a sophomore from Susquehanna, is the center fielder and leadoff hitter for the Wilkes University softball team.

Taylor is one of only three players to have started in all 12 games for the Lady Colonels. Although Wilkes is off to a 4-8 start, the program has produced seven playoff teams in the last 11 years and has only had two losing teams in the past 14 seasons.

Wilkes was swept by 18th-ranked William Paterson, 4-1 and 4-0, last week. Taylor went 2-for-3 for half of her team's four hits in the second game.

Taylor leads Wilkes by going 5-for-5 on stolen bases and has the team's only triple. She is tied for the team lead in doubles (two), walks (four), sacrifice fly (one), and sacrifice hit (one).

After batting .242 as a freshman, Taylor is hitting .265 so far this season to rank fourth on the team.

In the outfield, Taylor has one assist and has committed just one error.


Montrose graduate Zack Roeder will conclude his collegiate gymnastics career in the NCAA Division I championships Friday through Sunday at the University of Illinois.

Roeder finished second in two events last year as a junior.

TOM ROBINSON writes a weekly local sports column for the Susquehanna County Transcript. He can be reached on-line at

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A Sweet Bristol Victory For KURT BUSCH

Bristol, TN – Kurt Busch won a two-lap shootout over Rusty Wallace and Kevin Harvick in the Nextel Cup Food City 500 to extend his string of victories to three at the .533-mile Bristol Motor Speedway.

Kurt Busch

It was also his fourth win in the last five races at BMS, and first of 2004.

"This one has got to be the sweetest because of what we had to overcome," said Busch. "I don’t know why our motor wouldn’t run. We had about a thousand rpm less all day today.

"That provided for great forward bite and we were able to come off the corners good, but we had problems on the straightaways. We weren’t good on restarts and I couldn’t get the car to handle."

Busch’s win moved him into second-place in the points, only 21 behind the leader, Matt Kenseth.

Rusty Wallace was going for his first win since 2001, but he came up three car-lengths short.

"Doggone it, we didn’t need those last cautions," said Rusty Wallace. "I was just getting ready to pass him when the caution came out, then it came out again, and again.

"With four laps to go, I lost the power steering and it was hard to turn, so that’s it. Man I wanted it, bad. It was just so close."

There were a total of 11 cautions and one red flag period. The field was stopped after Dale Jarrett bounced off the outer wall on lap 494 of the 500-lap race in his No. 88 UPS Ford.

The race was restarted in a single file. All the cars that were not on the lead lap were at the back of the field. When green flag racing resumed, there were only two-to-go.

Wallace got a good jump on Busch, but within half a lap, Busch’s No. 97 was pulling away from Wallace, and third-place finisher, Kevin Harvick.

Sterling Marlin and Matt Kenseth rounded out the top-five. During the last two laps, there were several on-track bumping incidents between Kenseth and Jamie McMurray.

"We had a good run, and Jamie got into me down there by accident," said Kenseth. "No harm. No foul. He didn’t wreck me, he just knocked me out of the groove, and I did the same to him.

"He hit me on pit road which wasn’t necessary, but it’s no big deal."

Ken Schrader, driver of the No. 49 Schwan’s Home Service Dodge had a sixth-place finish, his best of the season.

Polesitter Ryan Newman wound up 7th.

Dale Earnhardt Jr. spun out during lap 421 and finished 11th.

Top ten finishing order: 1. Kurt Busch, 2. Rusty Wallace, 3. Kevin Harvick, 4. Sterling Marlin, 5. Matt Kenseth, 6. Ken Schrader, 7. Ryan Newman, 8. Jamie McMurray, 9. Jeff Gordon, 10. Michael Waltrip.

Top-10 points leaders after 6 of 36 races: 1. Kenseth-898, 2. Busch-877, 3. Earnhardt Jr.-857, 4. Stewart-804, 5. Newman-788, 6. Johnson-785, 7. Harvick-773, 8. Mayfield-764, 9. Sadler-757, 10. Marlin-727.

The Center Of Racing Is Moving West – If NASCAR and Texas Motor Speedway reach an agreement over a plan that is currently being tossed around by the various news agencies, then the center of NASCAR racing would no longer be in the Carolinas.

It would be somewhere out west, between Texas and California.

What has prompted all these stories is a lawsuit that was filed two years ago in a Texas court by a member of the Board of Directors of TMS, charging that NASCAR promised TMS a second race date, but failed to follow through.

The reports say that NASCAR does not want to go to court to reply to these charges, because they are afraid of what might come out if they have to answer questions under oath.

In order to avoid a court trial, the following scenario has been tossed out as a possibility.

International Speedway Corporation (ISC), which is owned by NASCAR and the France family, would sell North Carolina Motor Speedway (Rockingham) and Darlington Raceway, to Bruton Smith’s organization, which also owns TMS and Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

Two race dates would then be taken from Rockingham and Darlington and given to TMS and LVMS.

That would leave Darlington and Rockingham only one race date to split between the two tracks. The one date could be alternated between the two of them on a yearly basis.

If this race-date game is finalized, it would mean there would be ten Cup races held west of the Mississippi River.

That would leave two Cup races and the Nextel Cup Open Exhibition race at Charlotte, plus the one other left-over race to be split between Darlington and Rockingham.

Just a few years ago, this region hosted nine Cup races.

If these races are transferred west how will that affect the Charlotte area where most of the major teams are located? Will some of them move? Will newer teams be reluctant to locate in an area that is losing momentum?

But most of all, what will be the reaction of the fans in the Carolinas, Virginia, Georgia and other areas where stock car racing was born?

To be honest, we don’t know. Several months ago, we received a tremendous amount of e-mails from long time fans, expressing displeasure at the direction NASCAR was taking the sport.

It is our opinion, that NASCAR and television is going to lose a tremendous audience in the southeastern part of the country, but they will gain new fans in the western portion of the United States.

Only time will tell how the fan base will balance itself out if new changes like the ones that are now being tossed around are adopted.

MARTIN TRUEX Gets Busch Win, Bristol, TN – Martin Truex Jr. won his first career Busch series races after taking the Sharpie Professional 250 under caution, Saturday, March 27.

Top ten finishing order: 1. Martin Truex Jr., 2. Kevin Harvick, 3. Kyle Busch, 4. Greg Biffle, 5. David Green, 6. Tony Raines, 7. Michael Waltrip, 8. Jason Keller, 9. Ron Hornaday, 10. Mike Wallace.

Top-10 points leaders after 5 of 34 races: 1. Harvick-790, 2. D. Green-749, 3. Truex-740, 4. Waltrip-724, 5. Biffle-678, 6. Keller-673, 7. R. Gordon-637, 8. Kyle Busch-637, 9. Stremme-634, 10. J. Sauter-628.


The NASCAR Nextel Cup and Busch teams are at Texas Motor Speedway, near Ft. Worth, Texas. The Craftsman Trucks do not race again until April 17.

Saturday, April 3, Busch Series O’Reilly 300, race 6 of 34, 200 laps/300 miles, 2 p.m. TV: Fox.

Sunday, April 4, Nextel Cup SAMSUNG/RADIOSHACK 500, race 7 of 36, 334 laps/500 miles, 1 p.m. TV: Fox.

SIZZLERS: Jimmie Johnson, Tony Stewart and Ryan Newman are on a roll.

FIZZLERS: Kevin LePage, Ricky Rudd, and Ricky Craven are stalled at the start/finish line.

Racing Trivia Question: What series is former Winston Cup driver, Mike Skinner competing in this season?

Last Week’s Question: Who drives the No. 87 Nextel Cup Chevrolet this season? Answer. There is no 87 car running this year in the Nextel Cup series. We goofed. Joe Nemechek drives the No. 87 Nemco Motorsports Chevrolet in the Busch series.

If you would like to read additional racing stories by Gerald Hodges/the Racing Reporter, go to

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