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Look For Our GRADUATION SPECIAL In The June 30th Issue Of The County Transcript

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Issue Home June 22, 2004 Site Home

Local Sports Scene
Lady Raiders Win State's
France's To Enter The Great Race
Junior Golf Sign-Ups At Susky High

Donovan's Timely Hit Put Blue Ridge In Final

The records will show Kate Donovan's hit as a simple run-scoring single.

Donovan's shot through the left-centerfield gap was so much more.

The freshman lifted Blue Ridge to its second state Class A softball championship game in three years with a bases-loaded hit in the bottom of the 10th inning to produce a 3-2 victory over defending state champion South Williamsport June 14 at King's College in Wilkes-Barre.

If it was not a game-ending hit, Donovan's shot would have been good for at least a double. If the Lady Raiders needed more than one run, the hit was sufficient to bring in multiple runners.

The state semifinal matched the east's representative in each of the previous two state finals. Fittingly, it went to extra innings.

Blue Ridge got the early lead on a two-run single by Brittany Welch in the second inning. It was Welch who ultimately scored the winning run after leading off the 10th with another hit.

South Williamsport tied the game in the sixth inning when Blue Ridge uncharacteristically committed three errors.

Winning pitcher Brittany Pavelski shook off the defensive mistakes to go the distance and strike out 15.


Both regional minor-league baseball teams are enjoying leads in their divisions.

The Binghamton Mets have used three different six-game winning streaks this season to open a comfortable margin in the Class AA Eastern League's Northern Division.

The Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Red Barons put together a 10-game winning streak that improved their record to 40-22 before it came to an end during the week. The Red Barons are leading the Class AAA International League's North Division.

Pitchers Robert Ellis and Dan Geise provided individual highlights in the 10-game Red Barons' winning streak that was otherwise led by dominant offense. The Red Barons outscored opponents, 64-33, by scoring at least six runs in eight of 10 games during the streak.

Pitching was at its best June 6 and 7 when the Red Barons swept a doubleader, 6-0, 1-0 from Louisville before pulling out a 2-1 win the next day.

Ellis made his debut with the team in dramatic style with a seven-inning, no-hitter in game two of the doubleheader. He allowed just one baserunner on a walk after retiring the first 17 hitters.

Geise got the win in relief the next day with a hitless inning. He then ran his record to 9-2 by working two innings each on back-to-back days to lead the Red Barons to extra-inning wins in the final two games of the streak.

The Red Barons beat Louisville, 10-6, in 10 innings June 12 and, 7-6, in 11 innings June 13. The streak included six wins over Louisville and four over Indianapolis.


Elk Lake's Seth Button helped Gloucester County Community College of Sewell, NJ finish third in the National Collegiate Athletic Association Division III national baseball tournament.

Button, a freshman, played primarily in the outfield, but did do some pitching, including an impressive performance in the losers' bracket semifinals at nationals.

Button was at his best in that May 25 game, helping Gloucester get past Ulster County Community College of Stone Ridge, NY, 18-10. He drove in three runs and earned the save on the mound.

While playing left field and batting fifth in each game, Button was 6-for-22 in the five-game tournament with four runs, two doubles, two RBIs and a stolen base.

Against Ulster, Button was 2-for-5 with a run and a double in addition to the three RBIs. He went to the mound for the last three innings, settling the wild game down by holding Ulster scoreless on two hits while striking out six.

Button pitched just 11 2/3 innings in the regular season, posting a 2.31 earned run average without a decision. He gave up four hits and seven walks while striking out four.

At the plate, Button hit .286 in 51 games. He had seven doubles, two triples and four home runs while scoring 29 runs and driving in 34.


More than a dozen county players are scheduled to play in the UNICO Soccer Classic Thursday at Lackawanna County Stadium.

County players are on the Northern Tier team against the Southern Tier in the doubleheader, which has a girls' game scheduled for 6 and a boys' game at 8.

Forest City's Amanda Vitzakovitch, Brooke Elliott and Dana Bennett are in the game along with Mountain View's Kelly Finan and Melissa Clementoni.

The boys' game includes Montrose's Matt Hearn and Tyler Singleton, Mountain View's Brandon Bennett and Travis Nolan, Blue Ridge's Mike Keiser and Preston Propert, and Forest City's Tom Kernoschak and Jon Peterjoy.

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

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NEWMAN Wins Michigan DHL Under Caution

Ryan Newman passed Dale Jarrett after a restart with 23 laps to go in Sunday’s 200 lap Nextel Cup DHL 400 at Michigan International Speedway for his first win of the season, and the first since the October 3, 2003 Kansas race.

Once Newman was by Jarrett, he pulled away, but as the laps were winding down, Kasey Kahne made a strong run on Newman’s No. 12 Dodge. Kahne had closed to within two car-lengths when the caution flag came out as the cars entered turn 3 on the final lap.

It appeared Kahne might get his first career win, but NASCAR officials put out the yellow flag after P. J. Jones hit the wall hard in turn 2, freezing the field. And for the fourth time in his career, Kahne had to settle for second.

Newman got a lap down earlier in the race when he had overheating problems caused by a piece of paper that lodged in his grill. After pitting during lap 22 to remove the paper, he returned to the track.

He battled his way up through the field and on the lap 177 restart, he was able to get by Jarrett, and go on to his 10th career Cup victory.

"To win this thing on Father’s Day was a big thing," said Newman. "Happy Father’s Day to my father and all the other fathers out there. It was a great victory for our entire team.

"We had to fight our way back because we got caught with a bunch of stuff on our grill in the first part of the race. We got a lap down, then got it back. We knew we had a fast car and just had to work our way forward."

Kahne tried hard, but the caution with less than a mile to go meant he had to settle for second – again.

"I don’t know if we could have caught him if the yellow hadn’t come out," said Kahne. "It would have been a great finish, but I would have probably finished about a car length back."

Dale Jarrett, driver of the No. 88 UPS Ford finished third, his best of the season.

"We ran good all day and gave ourselves a chance to win," said Jarrett. "We finished in the top-5 with both of the cars, Elliott (Sadler) and myself, so it was a really good day for us."

Polesitter, Jeff Gordon had an engine let go in his No. 24 Dupont Chevrolet during lap 59 and wound up 38th.

Gordon’s teammate Jimmy Johnson had transmission problems for most of the race, but still managed to finish fourth and take over the Nextel Cup points lead.

Dale Earnhardt Jr. was running fifth late in the race when he cut a right rear tire and had to pit under caution. He finished 21st.

Top ten finishing order: 1. Ryan Newman, 2. Kasey Kahne, 3. Dale Jarrett, 4. Jimmie Johnson, 5. Elliott Sadler, 6. Sterling Marlin, 7. Matt Kenseth, 8. Bobby Labonte, 9. Brian Vickers, 10. Michael Waltrip.

NEXTEL CUP Contenders – 1. Johnson-2220, Earnhardt Jr.-2213, 3. Kenseth-2040, 4. B. Labonte-1954, 5. Stewart-1945, 6. J. Gordon-1933, 7. Sadler-1933, 8. Busch-1933, 9. Newman-1859, 10. Harvick-1847, 11. Kahne-1821.

TONY STEWART makes news at MIS – Tony Stewart was back in the news this past Sunday at MIS because he ducked out of the drivers meeting early.

I am not a big fan of Stewart’s even though I often use my Home Depot credit card.

While he has bashed into several other drivers this season, I have been in the garage area and seen him apologize twice after the race ended.

In addition, he wrote a $1 million check to the Victory Junction Camp for kids.

As I said, I’m not a big fan of his, but let’s give credit where credit is deserved.

Meanwhile Stewart was sent to the rear of the field for Sunday’s race at MIS.

"Let's go racing," Stewart said as he made his way through the crowd to go back to his hauler.

Even though Stewart checked in to the mandatory meeting on time, leaving is a no-no, and Stewart was sent to the rear of the field fore the start of the DHL 400.

After NASCAR Pres. Mike Helton told the drivers and crew chiefs that they shouldn't take the sanctioning body's recent troubles as a sign of weakness, event director David Hoots covered the usual procedural matters.

But when Hoots asked if there were any questions, there were several, mostly about restart procedures. When Robby Gordon asked a question, Stewart decided it was time to go.

Oh well, that’s racing.

TRUEX Is Busch Leader – Top-10 Busch Series points leaders after 16 of 34 races: 1. Truex-2434, 2. Busch-2424, 3. D. Green-2150, 4. Biffle-2099, 5. M. Wallace-2029, 6. Hamilton Jr.-2072, 7. Keller-2055, 8. Leffler-2051, 9. Hornaday-2038, 10. Bliss-1848.

SETZER Leads Truck Series – Top-10 Craftsman Truck Series points leaders after 8 of 25 races: 1. D. Setzer-1,269, 2. C. Edwards-1,214; 3. B. Hamilton-1,131, 4. R. Crawford - 1,092, 5. J. Sprague-1,078, 6. M. Skinner-1,067, 7. M. Crafton-1,047, 8. J. Wood-1,042, 9. T. Musgrave-1,031, 10. D. Reutimann-1,020.


All three of NASCAR’s major series sees action this weekend. The Nextel Cup teams are out west at Sonoma, CA, while the Busch and Craftsman Trucks are at the Milwaukee Mile, in West Allis, Wisconsin.

Friday, June 25, Craftsman Trucks Black Cat Fireworks 200, race 9 of 25, 200 laps/200 miles, 9 p.m. TV: Speed Channel.

Saturday, June 26, Busch Series Alan Kulwicki 250, race 17 of 34, 250 laps/250 miles, 9 p.m. TV: FX Channel.

Sunday, June 27, Nextel Cup Dodge Save/Mart 350, race 16 of 36, 111 laps/216.5 miles, 4 p.m. TV: Fox.

Racing Trivia Question: Which Nextel Cup driver’s father won the 1961 and 1965 NASCAR Winston Cup championships?

Last Week’s Question: The last race of the 2004 season will be held at Homestead-Miami Speedway, Nov. 21.

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

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Lady Raiders Win State's

Shippensburg - After all the work that it took to get back to a seventh inning of a state final, the Blue Ridge Lady Raiders made the last three outs look easy.

Brittany Pavelski threw four straight strikes, the left side of the infield efficiently handled three straight groundballs and Blue Ridge quickly set out to celebrate the first state high school championship ever produced by a Susquehanna County girls' team in any sport.

The quick inning finished off Pavelski's three-hitter in a 2-0 victory over Sto-Rox in the Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association Class A championship game Friday at Shippensburg University's Robb Field.

"This is something that's been a long time coming," Blue Ridge coach Bob Pavelski said.

Brooke Hinkley and Brittany Welch set up the clinching inning by leading the way as Blue Ridge finally broke through against Lindsay Vevers to score two runs in the top of the sixth inning.

All that was needed was for Blue Ridge to get six more outs. The final three took a matter of minutes.

"In the last inning, she just put the ball where they can hit it and the defense did the job," coach Pavelski said.

The seventh inning of the state championship game was the setting where Blue Ridge came up short two years ago, giving up the only run in a 1-0 state final loss to Penns Valley.

"The girls have worked the last six years for this," coach Pavelski said. "In 2002, we were one step away. It was one big disappointment."

An upset loss to Elk Lake in last year's district semifinal kept Blue Ridge from even reaching the state tournament last season. With half of the lineup still returning from 2002, Blue Ridge had to fight through a 10-inning state semifinal against South Williamsport, the defending state champion.

In comparison, the final seemed easy.

Hinkley scored the winning run after leading off the sixth inning with a walk.

Welch drove in the first run and scored the second.

Hinkley fell behind 0-2 before taking four straight pitches out of the strike zone.

"It was close," Hinkley said. "I kind of wanted to swing."

Instead, she patiently took first base and moved to second on Kelly Drake's bunt, which was the fourth successful sacrifice for the Lady Raiders in the game.

Welch, who had three hits in each of the final three games of the season after sitting out about six weeks with an injury, took it from there.

After fouling off one 3-2 pitch, Welch lined a shot to center field. Sto-Rox's Lauren Miller charged in trying to make a play, but the ball skipped under her glove, allowing Hinkley to break the scoreless tie and Welch to go all the way to third.

"For most of the game, she was pitching me inside," Welch said. "I was just looking for the inside pitch."

The official scorer ruled the play a single and two-base error, although many scorers would rule a triple on the type of hop that got the ball past the outfielder.

"When I saw her coming in, I thought she would catch it on a bounce and hold me to a single," Welch said.

By getting to third, Welch was in position to score on a one-out wild pitch.

Sto-Rox, which won a record five straight District 7 championships, answered with its second-best scoring chance of the game. Lindsay Vevers walked and Michelle Kushner singled with one out, but Michelle Spisak fouled out to catcher Devin Glezen to end the sixth.

Shortstop Heather Franks went to her left for one ball then to her right for another to get the first two outs of the seventh inning. Freshman third baseman Jocelyn Dearborn then handled the final play, throwing to Hinkley at first base to wrap up the state championship.

"This is a good way to go out," said Hinkley, the Most Valuable Player on a league and district championship volleyball team and an all-star leader of a playoff basketball team. "This tops it all.

"It's been weird for the five seniors. We've already graduated.

"This was the last thing for us to hold on to. We did what we came here to do."

The game was scoreless through five innings, but the Lady Raiders made Vevers work much harder than Pavelski to get to that point.

Blue Ridge had at least a runner in scoring position in each of the first five innings and put two runners on in three of those innings.

Sto-Rox did not get a runner to second base until the bottom of the fourth inning.

Pavelski retired eight straight before Vevers singled to center with one out in the fourth. Pavelski then walked Kushner on four pitches, but she recovered to strike out Spisak before getting out of the inning.

Vevers reached her 100th pitch of the tough outing during Brooke Hinkley's walk to lead off the sixth inning.

Pavelski struck out seven and walked three in her three-hitter. She threw 55 of her 88 pitches for strikes.

The second trip to Shippensburg worked out much better than the near-miss in 2002.

"That's definitely something we thought about all the time," Brittany Pavelski said. "It just drove us.

"Not getting that first-place medal drove us to get it this time."


Coaching, defense and offense all added to Pavelski's continued success on the mound.

Bob Pavelski made the most of some scouting tips to aggressively cut off Sto-Rox attempts at bunts and slap base hits. Second baseman Annette Conigliaro lined up near Brittany Pavelski to take away one key bunt opportunity.

Center fielder Emily Sienko was positioned on the edge of the grass just behind second base when Anna Trapuzzano came to the plate left-handed to lead off the fourth. Sienko was right in position to make the catch on what otherwise would have been a single.

Sienko's catch proved important when the next two batters reached.

"We had very good information on where they would try to slap the ball and punch the ball," coach Pavelski said. "We worked on our slap defense. We can put Emily there because she has good speed and gets a good first step on the ball."

The Lady Raiders found other ways to counter Sto-Rox's speed.

Glezen easily threw out Trapuzzano trying to steal second in the first inning and the Lady Vikes never attempted another steal.

"Devin has a great arm," coach Pavelski said.

The offense had trouble getting runs, but constantly pressured Sto-Rox because of contributions from most of the lineup.

Welch finished 2-for-2 with a walk while Kate Donovan went 2-for-3 with a sacrifice. Hinkley went 1-for-2 with a walk.

Dearborn drew two walks and Pavelski had one as Blue Ridge worked out five in the game.

Franks got down two sacrifice bunts.

Blue Ridge played in the last of the three games, which drew a combined crowd of more than 2,000 to Shippensburg.

Shaler opened the day with a 3-2 victory over Chambersburg in the Class AAA final. Shaler was just fourth in District 7, the largest district in the state, but won four straight one-run games in the state tournament.

Mifflinburg went unscored upon for the four-game state tournament, including a 3-0 victory over Bald Eagle Nittany in the Class AA final. Jessica Vonada, who had three perfect games during the season, threw a three-hitter in the final.

Sto-Rox won a state Class AA title in 1989. The Lady Vikes were second in 1993 and 2001 when they lost to another District 2 team, Bishop O'Hara.

The east is 5-1 in finals since Class A was added in the switch from two to three classifications. Blue Ridge has the only loss.

Vevers had four no-hitters during the regular season as Sto Rox won its Western Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic League section for the 14th straight year and 19th time in the last 20. The Lady Vikes are 243-4 in their section during those 20 years.

Blue Ridge's only loss to a Pennsylvania opponent this season came by forfeit to Susquehanna. The school agreed to forfeit to Susquehanna while waiting for resolution on a dispute on whether an early season meeting with Wyalusing was a scrimmage or game. If Wyalusing had been ruled a game, the Lady Raiders were in danger of violating state competition limits.

Pavelski, Dearborn, Welch and Franks all batted over .400 for the season.

In addition to the 10 girls who played in the state final, the state championship roster also included sophomore Natashia Beach and freshmen Caryn Zurn and Kasandra Ralston.

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France's To Enter The Great Race

Mr. Bill France, Sr., founder of NASCAR, is pictured with his 1935 Ford. A replica of this car will be driven by Bill Baxter and Buz McKim in the upcoming Great Race cross-country road rally as a tribute to France.

The year 2004 is the 70th anniversary of Bill France, Sr., his wife, Anne and infant son, Bill, Jr. arriving in Daytona Beach, Florida. What seemed to be just another family coming to town was to become one of the most important events in American auto racing history.

The Frances were traveling from Washington, DC to Miami in 1934 when they stopped off in the Daytona Beach area to visit some friends. France had $25 in his pocket, $75 in the bank and an old set of tools.

According to France, "I figured that was all I needed to get a new start. If I was going to work on automobiles, I might just as well do it someplace where I wouldn’t have to fight snow and cold weather."

"Big Bill" as Mr. France was known, stated that he drove out to the beach with his little house trailer in tow. The water was so blue-green and the beach was so peaceful and beautiful, he and his family took a swim and felt they needed to go no further.

The France family settled into a small bungalow off Beach St. just north of downtown Daytona Beach and around the corner from Sax Lloyd’s General Motors dealership. France was a skilled mechanic and soon found work as a brake specialist in Lloyd’s shop.

A few years later he opened a gas station on Main St. in Daytona Beach. France also was involved in auto racing back in his native DC and soon was among the locals competing on central Florida’s dirt tracks in open-wheeled, home built contraptions. He quickly made an impact on the racing scene and his station became a Mecca for local racers.

In 1935 Bill France was on the beach the day Sir Malcolm Campbell set the ultimate Daytona speed record of over 276 m.p.h. That event brought an end to Daytona Beach’s Land Speed Record era, dating back to 1903. A new era was on the horizon.

The City of Daytona Beach wanted to keep its racing heritage alive and a new form of auto racing was developed. Sig Haugdahl, a local racer and one-time land speed record holder, came up with the plan to hold a stock car race on Daytona Beach. In early 1936, Haugdahl, along with local attorney Millard Conklin and consultant Bill France, laid out a course of 3.2 miles consisting of 1.5 miles of State Road A1A and 1.5 miles of beach with short turns on the north and south end of the oval-shaped course.

A 250 mile, AAA-sanctioned stock car race was slated for the beach course on March 8, 1936. The event drew and interesting array of competitors such as Indianapolis 500 winner Wild Bill Cummings, midget racing legend Bill Schindler, sports car racing pioneer Miles Collier, millionaire sportsman Jack Rutherford, English speed king Goldie Gardner and Daytona’s own Bill France.

France entered a 1935 Ford V-8 coupe owned by a fellow mechanic named Glen Brooks. The local Gulf Oil dealer sponsored France with fuel and tires. Along with his driving chores, France did mechanical work on the 1936 Ford convertible of Milt Marion, a northeastern dirt track ace. Marion went on to win the inaugural Daytona Beach stock car race while France came home fifth.

"Big Bill" France would continue a successful driving career, winning the "unofficial" 1940 national stock car championship. He would later promote races, establish NASCAR in 1947, develop the ultra-modern Daytona International Speedway in 1959 and build its sister track, Talladega, in 1969. It’s been said Bill France, Sr. is the single most influential figure in American auto racing.

As a tribute to Bill France, Sr. and in celebration of the 70th Anniversary of the France family arrival in Daytona Beach, Bill Baxter of Deland, FL has entered the prestigious Great Race with his 1935 Ford, an exact replica of Bill France’s 1936 Daytona race entry.

The car was sent to Jack Roush’s shop in Livonia, MI for a complete overhaul in preparation for the June 19 kickoff of the cross-country trek. The race will end on July 3 in Monterey, CA.

Dubbed "Team Daytona USA," the team that hopes to do "Bill Bill" proud is composed of navigator Baxter along with driver and NASCAR historian Buz McKim. The support crew is made up of their wives Jean and Gwen, respectively.

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Junior Golf Sign-Ups At Susky High

All incoming seventh graders and new eighth graders at Susquehanna Community High School interested in joining the Junior Golf Team are asked to sign-up at the high school offices, before August 1, 2004.

Any parent with questions is welcome to call Coach Ficarro at 853–3134 (daily) or 853–3284 (evenings). There are no related fees to join the team and all seventh and eighth grade SCHS students are eligible.

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