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About half of the lineup has been to the biggest game that Pennsylvania high school softball has to offer.
The other half is already showing it can do its part to keep the team on top locally.
Together, they have helped Blue Ridge produce another softball team that is tearing up local opposition to the point where it appears to be a state threat again.
"They're all working together so well," said coach Bob Pavelski, who has the Lady Raiders working on their second straight perfect regular season.
At the same time, Blue Ridge is trying to shake off the disappointment of a district semifinal upset loss to Elk Lake that prevented the Lady Raiders from returning to the state tournament.
"They have worked so hard to get to where they are," Pavelski said. "After the Riverside game (Friday), we had a talk with the girls about what we want from each person. If each one's skills get better, it helps the whole team.
"They have a lot of faith in each other."
The girls have experienced a lot of success together.
Senior Devin Glezen is in her fourth season as the starting catcher, while Brooke Hinkley has three-plus seasons as the starting first baseman. Another senior, Kelly Drake, is in her third season as a starter, playing primarily at third base with some time in the outfield as well.
Shortstop/pitcher Heather Franks and pitcher/infielder Brittany Pavelski are juniors, who were starters and key players on the 2002 state Class A finalists as freshmen.
The Lady Raiders have been dominant this season.
Blue Ridge is 6-0 in the Class A North Division; 9-0 in the Lackawanna League, counting crossovers that are part of the district seeding process; and 11-0 overall.
The Lady Raiders have won nine of those games by shutout while allowing just three runs.
Wednesday's 5-2 Lackawanna crossover win over Valley View represented the only two runs that Pavelski, the coach's daughter, has allowed in six games on the mound. Sophomore Brittany Welch has allowed one run in three games. Franks has shutouts in both of her games.
The offense has been just as impressive, averaging more than eight runs per game and scoring in double figures four times - 19 runs against Forest City, 15 against Susquehanna and 11 each against Scranton Prep and Mountain View.
Pavelski leads off and is followed by freshman Jocelyn Dearborn, who starts in left field or at third base. Franks, Glezen, Welch and Hinkley follow in the third through sixth spots in the order.
"The top of the lineup is hitting the ball real well," coach Pavelski said. "If I can get Brittany on, we're going to score in the first inning because somebody behind her is going to get a hit."
Dearborn is a big part of that success as the latest player to make a significant impact as a freshman.
"She's a great person to have behind Brittany," coach Pavelski said. "She's an excellent bunter and she just kills the ball. She's getting a lot of doubles and triples."
Senior Annette Conigliaro is in her second season as a starting second baseman, while fellow senior Emily Sienko has returned from a year and a half away from the team to start in the outfield.
Sophomores Welch and Natasha Beach are also part of the combination that starts in the outfield.
WEEK IN REVIEW
Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Red Barons manager posted the 1,500th win of his career Saturday in a 6-2 International League victory over the Ottawa Lynx at Lackawanna County Stadium.
The win was the 11th in 15 games for the IL North Division-leading Red Barons.
Bombard has 518 of the 1,500 wins with the Red Barons since coming to the Phillies organization in 1997. He has led the Class AAA team to the playoffs four teams and produced five straight winning seasons for a franchise that had just one before his arrival.
"I've been fortunate enough to hang around long enough to get this many wins," Bombard said. "This is a class organization to be around and so were the Reds when I was with them."
Bombard's 2002 team had the best record in franchise history, going 91-53. He was named Minor League Manager of the Year.
Bombard leads all active minor-league managers in wins.
In another professional baseball development, the career of Montrose graduate Rich Thompson hit a speed bump last week when he was dropped by the Kansas City Royals.
Thompson made his major-league debut after starting the season with the Royals.
As a Rule Five Draft selection, Thompson had to be offered back to his original team if he was not kept on the major-league roster all season. When Kansas City decided not to keep Thompson as its fifth outfielder, he was offered back to the Pittsburgh Pirates, who took him back for the mandatory $25,000 fee.
Pittsburgh assigned Thompson to the Nashville Sounds of the Class AAA Pacific Coast League. Thompson finished last season with Nashville after being acquired from the Toronto organization in a mid-season trade.
Thompson was 0-for-1 with a stolen base and a game-winning run during six appearances with Kansas City.
The 24-year-old Thompson stole 48 bases in 55 attempts last season while playing for three teams in three different leagues. His .880 stolen-base percentage (22-for-25) was the best in the PCL. The 22 steals came in just 35 games with Nashville.
Thompson's stock went up in the Arizona Fall League while playing for the Mesa Desert Dogs. In a league filled with baseball's top prospects, Thompson led with 13 stolen bases and 28 runs scored while hitting .346.
Arizona Fall League scouts named Thompson the league's fastest base runner and the top "sleeper pick" as well as the second-best defensive outfielder in the league.
Although the setback sends Thompson back down to Class AAA, the Pirates are likely to give him strong consideration for a major-league spot in the future.
Susquehanna graduate Jeff Rood is a senior distance runner for the Millersville University track and field team.
Rood, who reached the NCAA Division III national meet in cross country as a junior, has qualified for the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference meet in the 5,000 meters.
During the Dickinson Invitational, Rood's finish of 15:54.41 in the 5,000 was good for seventh place out of 36 runners.
Rood's best time of the year was 15:38.72. He also has Millersville's third-best time of the season in 33:46.
Rood is listed on the roster for events ranging from the 1,500 to 10,000 meters.
THE WEEK AHEAD
Blue Ridge, which has already beaten Elk Lake, 6-0, this season, plays the Lady Warriors in softball again Friday at Elk Lake.
In professional hockey, the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins return to action for the East Division final of the Calder Cup playoffs.
The Penguins are in Philadelphia Wednesday and Friday. They are home Saturday and Monday (May 10) for Games Three and Four of the best-of-seven series.
TOM ROBINSON writes a weekly local sports column for the Susquehanna County Transcript. He can be reached on-line at RobbyTR@aol.com.
JEFF GORDON Is On A Roll
Jeff Gordon and his teammate Jimmy Johnson scored a 1-2 finish in Sundays Auto Club 500 at Fontana, CA.
After Bristol, just five races ago, Gordon was 12th in the Nextel Cup points, now he is in third place, just 27 points behind the leader, Dale Earnhardt Jr.
The big question mark in Sundays 500-mile race was fuel. Gordon and Johnson had the answer, while Bobby Labonte, Kasey Kahne, Jeremy Mayfield, and Joe Nemechek; all front-running cars didnt and ran out of gas on the last lap.
Labonte, who had closed to within less than a second of Gordon with two laps to go, ran out of fuel and coasted home fifth.
"I dont know what happened," said Bobby Labonte. "I didnt ask (about fuel) and nobody told me we were going to be close. We had a good second-place going there, but it didnt quite end up that way."
It marks the ninth time Labonte has finished second to Gordon.
"Yeah, I went to do my burnout and spin around in the grass and I ran out of gas," said Gordon. "It was an amazing run.
"We didnt have all that good of a car at the beginning, but Robbie (crew chief, Robbie Loomis) and the guys kept working on it, and it got better and better."
Top ten finishing order: 1. Jeff Gordon, 2. Jimmie Johnson, 3. Ryan Newman, 4. Matt Kenseth, 5. Bobby Labonte, 6. Brendan Gaughan, 7. Terry Labonte, 8. Casey Mears, 9. Kevin Harvick, 10. Ward Burton.
Top-10 points leaders: 1. Earnhardt Jr.-1453, 2. Johnson-1428, 3. J. Gordon-1426, 4. Kenseth-1357, 5. Busch-1316, 6. Harvick-1316, 7. Newman-1299, 8. Stewart-1284, 9. B. Labonte-1265, 10. Sadler-1250.
The Boy Needs To Grow Up Tony Stewart's rough driving has been a topic of concern for the past week. Prior to Sundays race at Fontana, Nextel Cup Series director John Darby sat the former champion down for a one-on-one.
Following the meeting in NASCARs hauler, Darby said the issue was over.
But Rusty Wallace, who has defended Stewart in the past didnt see it that way.
"I'll talk to him, right in the eye. He needs to a good talkin' to by somebody," Wallace said. "I'm gonna do a lot better job talking to him than NASCAR will. I'm going to talk to him driver-to-driver.
"He needs some help. He's in a ditch right now. I don't know what's wrong with the guy. I like the fella. He's a good friend, but he's really screwing up a lot lately."
Wallace named several instances this year when he received what he considered unnecessary hits from Stewart, including one early in Sunday's race.
"He got me in the back really hard at Bristol, got me in the back real hard at Martinsville, caused a huge darn wreck last week at Talladega then runs me right through the fence this time," continued Wallace.
"I'm on the outside, right against the wall, and he comes flying up and drives through me, knocks the side off of it, completely ruins the car.
"Then, he pulls up alongside and starts flipping me off on the restart. I wanted to get out of the car and whip his rear end, I'll tell you what. The kid needs to calm down a little bit."
Last week at Talladega, Stewart hit Kurt Busch to trigger the "Big One," then swerved into Terry Labonte after taking the checkered flag.
Later in Sundays race, Stewart also bumped into the rear of Ricky Rudds No. 21 Ford, and appeared to try to push him down the front straightaway.
"I'm not sticking up right now, 'cause I'm about sick of this childish action," Wallace said. "The boy needs to grow up a little bit. I think he's just frustrated. I don't know. He's just got to keep his emotions in check. I'm tired of getting taken out by him. This is ridiculous."
No Expansion Dates Included In 2005 Schedule "The opportunity to go bigger than we are now would have to be incredible to grow the (NASCAR Nextel Cup) schedule," said NASCAR Pres. Mike Helton. "But as we sit here right now and put the 2005 schedule together, it doesnt include expanding the schedule."
That is good for most car owners, and bad for several track owners.
"I dont want to see more races," said Rick Hendrick of Hendrick Motorsports. "If anything, Id like to see fewer races. But if we can convert some of the deals to Friday and Saturday night, it would help, but we dont need more races."
Richard Childress, owner of three Cup teams agreed with Hendrick.
"I think 38 is enough races," said Childress. "Id like to see every one of them run in a row. You start at Daytona and you run for 38 weeks, and then were off the rest of the year. Thats the way Id like to do it."
The ones who will not benefit is Texas Motor Speedway. The track has been lobbying for a second date, and there is talk of moving one date from Rockingham or Darlington to accommodate the Texas track.
No Apologies For Alabama Fans Last week after fans at Talladega threw beer cans and other objects on to the speedway, we received a couple e-mails that were critical of the fans actions. One of them said such a thing like that could only happen in Alabama.
Well, I have news for you race fans from other states. It wasnt Alabama fans throwing the cans of beer.
We folks from Alabama might throw empty beer cans, but no way are we going to throw full ones. We love our beer, and are too smart to throw away a full can of beer.
Do I need to say more?
BIFFLE Wins California Busch Race Greg Biffle overcame an erratic engine, which often sputtered and had sporadic oil pressure problems to win Saturdays Stater Bros. 300 Busch series race at Fontana, CA.
Top ten finishing order: 1. Greg Biffle, 2. Tony Stewart, 3. Stacy Compton, 4. Matt Kenseth, 5. Kasey Kahne, 6. Michael Waltrip, 7. Kyle Busch, 8. Kevin Harvick, 9. Kenny Wallace, 10. Bobby Hamilton Jr
Top-10 points leaders: 1. Waltrip-1335, 2. K. Busch-1283, 3. Truex-1282, 4. D. Green-1251, 5. R. Gordon-1245, 6. Keller-1157, 7. Hamilton Jr.-1095, 8. Hornaday-1084, 9. J. Sauter-1079, 10. Biffle-1072.
Its Mothers Day Weekend, a traditional off week for NASCARs major divisions. The only racing will be the Busch series race at Gateway Intl. Raceway, Madison, IL.
Saturday, May 8, Busch Series, Charter 250, race 10 of 34, 200 laps/250 miles, 7 p.m. TV: FX Channel.
Racing Trivia Question: Who was the first NASCAR racer to reach the 200 miles per hour mark? Hint. It was not Bill Elliott.
Last Weeks Question: Name the two-time Winston Cup champion who was killed in Riverside, CA in January of 1964. Answer. Joe Weatherly, the 1962 and 63 NASCAR Grand National Champion.
If you would like to read additional racing stories by Gerald Hodges/the Racing Reporter, go to www.race500.com.
In the early years in the 1930s Susquehanna High School fielded some great football teams. There may have been better teams than the 1934 group. (I have no way of knowing.) The 1934 team was one of the best. They (I understand) made the playoffs, were eliminated and did not make the finals.
At the school that year Gold Footballs were awarded. Following is an article that appeared in the Susquehanna Evening Transcript:
"Gold Footballs Awarded for the Most Valuable players on the Susquehanna High School football team of 1934 will be awarded by the High School Athletic Association in keeping with the votes of Principal Greenawalt, Coach Joe Yurkewitch and game officials, Jud Collins, Paul S. Baker, Harold F. Gibbs, and Coach Joe OConnor of the Laurel Hill Academy gridders.
Albert "Red" Cleveland, quarterback, was voted the Most Valuable backfield man. J. Donald Baker, right guard, was voted the Most Valuable lineman. All ballots were delivered to the editor of the Evening Transcript, (U. G. Baker) who canvassed them in the presence of a disinterested party.
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