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Pitcher Brittany Pavelski and shortstop Heather Franks have won a state title and been to another state Class A final as leaders of the Blue Ridge softball team.
As Pavelski and Franks begin their fourth seasons as starters, the Lady Raiders will be defending their District 2 title and the school's first-ever state team championship in any sport.
Blue Ridge will try to continue its run of success with new starters at more than half the positions.
The Lady Raiders are in Division 4 of the Lackawanna League along with Forest City, Susquehanna, Bishop O'Hara, Bishop Hannan, Carbondale Sacred Heart and Old Forge.
County teams are split into three of the four Lackawanna divisions.
Elk Lake should be a contender in Division 3. Mountain View, which returns standout shortstop Whitney Williams, is also in the division along with Carbondale, Dunmore, Lackawanna Trail, Mid Valley and Riverside.
Montrose competes in Division 2 where it will go against Lakeland, Scranton Prep, Valley View, Western Wayne and West Scranton.
The baseball league has the same split by division.
Elk Lake, which reached the 2003 state Class A final, will be aiming for its fifth straight division title in baseball.
The District 2 committee determined during its March meeting that the baseball finals would again be held at Lackawanna County Stadium. The finals are scheduled for June 1-2. If they have to be pushed back to a later date, they will need to be moved to a new site as well.
WEEK IN REVIEW
Susquehanna County was well represented in the Lackawanna League basketball senior all-star games.
Kevin Lee of Susquehanna led the Division II-III boys' team in scoring and both Montrose coaches guided teams.
Lee had 18 points to lead the Division II-III team in a 94-88 loss to the Division I all-stars at Valley View Tuesday. Ron Collins of Montrose coached the Division II-III all-stars.
Montrose's John Cherundolo coached the North team, which lost 71-67 to the South in the girls' game Thursday at Forest City.
Lee started for the Division II-III team. Tom Burgh of Montrose led all Division II-III players in the 3-point shooting contest and hit from that range five times in the game for 15 points.
Forest City's Dave Shollock added 10 points. Kyle Adriance of Montrose also played.
Kate LaBarbera of Montrose had seven points for the North girls. Susquehanna's Beth Kubus and Mountain View's Amanda Breese added six each. Montrose's Erika Brown had three while Forest City's Amanda Risner was held scoreless.
Nadine Taylor from Susquehanna and Andrea Dominick, a Clifford resident who graduated from Carbondale Sacred Heart, are leading a softball turnaround at Wilkes University.
Taylor, a junior outfielder, leads the team in hitting. Dominick, a senior shortstop, is third.
Wilkes is off to a 9-3 start after going 17-20 last season.
Taylor has started all 12 games, going 19-for-42. She leads the team in runs (15), hits and batting average (.452) while tying for the lead in doubles (four) and triples (two). She also has two home runs and nine RBIs while stealing four bases.
Last season, Taylor batted .287 and led Wilkes with 33 hits, two triples and 13 stolen bases.
Dominick is 14-for-42 (.333) in 12 games with three doubles, two triples and three stolen bases. She led the team with 19 runs last season while hitting. 257.
THE WEEK AHEAD
The Lackawanna League baseball and softball seasons are scheduled to open Thursday, weather permitting.
Montrose is at Western Wayne in softball and baseball. Mountain View is at Carbondale in baseball only.
The remaining teams are scheduled to open Monday. Among the openers that day are Bishop Hannan at Blue Ridge and Susquehanna at Elk Lake in both baseball and softball.
TOM ROBINSON writes a weekly local sports column for the Susquehanna County Transcript. He can be reached online at RobbyTR@aol.com.
Rookie SORENSON Wins Nashville Busch Race
Gladeville, TN – Rookie Reed Sorenson won his first NASCAR Busch Series victory Saturday, beating Kenny Wallace by over 14-seconds in the Pepsi 300 at Nashville Superspeedway.
For the 19-year-old Peachtree City, Georgia driver, it was only his 11th Busch Series start of his career. But in addition to being the race winner, he was also the fast qualifier.
“I really didn’t know what to expect this weekend,” said Sorenson. “We had a good car and I thought we could run well, but I had no idea we’d be this dominant.”
Shane Hmiel was third, followed by series leader Carl Edwards, Boston Reid, Truck series star Bobby Hamilton, Tony Raines, Jason Keller, Denny Hamlin and Stacy Compton.
Sorenson broke through a week after failing to qualify his Chip Ganassi Dodge for his hometown race at Atlanta Motor Speedway. He got into the race in a car borrowed from Nextel Cup driver Sterling Marlin and ended up 19th.
"We redeemed ourselves," Sorenson continued. "We came into this weekend going after a top-five, but when we unloaded we knew we were fast and our goals changed.
"My crew chief, Brian Pattie, was a little nervous, but I was just running smooth laps every time and tried to make my marks. But when you're out ahead you don't have to push the issue. They didn't want me to abuse the car or the tires."
Sorenson led three times for 197 laps in the 225-lap event on the 1.33-mile track. He also became the first Busch Series driver to win from the pole at NSS.
Kenny Wallace, who has done better on various NASCAR talk shows than he has on the race track, had his first top-five finish since the 2002 season.
The top-10 Busch Series drivers: 1. Edwards-995, 2. Sorenson-860, 3. Bowyer-831, 4. Truex Jr.-789, 5. A. Lewis Jr.-721, 6. K. Wallace-714, 7. Harvick-690, 8. Hamlin-675, 9. Stremme-658, 10. Hmiel-647.
KIMMEL Leads Arca Drivers – Top-10 Arca Re/Max Series points after Nashville Superspeedway: 1) Frank Kimmel 425; 2) Joey Miller 420; 3) Ken Weaver 370; 4) Mario Gosselin 345; 5) Kyle Krisiloff 330; 6) Norm Benning 315; 7) Chad Blount 300; 8) Bobby Gerhart 275; 9) Robert Richardson 260; 10) Joe Cooksey 255.
It’s Back To Racing For Cup Teams – An off-weekend at any point during the marathon-like NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series season is a welcome reprieve for drivers and teams. There are only three of them, with the Easter holiday marking off-weekend number two.
But as those who comprise the traveling circus that is NASCAR prop their feet up for a rare Saturday and Sunday at home, their ability to relax only reaches a certain point.
That's because on Friday, April 1, teams unload their shiny race cars at what is arguably the toughest race track on the Nextel Cup circuit - Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway - and hope for nary an April Fool's surprise.
The tight and fast .533-mile oval instills a feeling of love or hate amongst those who whip 3,400-pound race cars around its 36 degrees of banking. The track's layout is a challenge all by itself, but add 43 race cars to the mix at speeds averaging 125 mph and you get the toughest ticket in town.
It provides great theatre for the 160,000 fans in attendance, during and after the race. But depending on what driver you talk to and when, Bristol can be their favorite venue, or their favorite venue to convert into a bass pond.
Tony Stewart, driver of the No. 20 Home Depot Chevrolet for Joe Gibbs Racing, sums it up best: "Bristol is a track that's feast or famine." And Stewart should know. He won the 2001 Bristol night race, and in his four Bristol starts leading up to that contest, he led 413 of an available 2,000 laps (just over 20 percent). But in his six starts since that Bristol stomp, Stewart has not finished better than 15th, seeing strong drives thwarted by Bristol's unrepentant circumstances.
So as Stewart spends his off-weekend in the role of track owner at his latest acquisition - Eldora Speedway in Rossburg, Ohio - the relaxation that comes with being involved in grassroots motorsports is tempered by his impending trip to Bristol.
"We're only four races into the season, so I'd say it's still a little early to tell,” said Stewart. “I think we're getting a direction on what we need to change to be better. We had a good run at Daytona, a terrible run at California, a really, really good car at Las Vegas, and then a terrible run at Atlanta. We've got some good things going for us, but we also have some areas we need to work on. The season is still young and there's a lot of racing yet to go.
"With the current points format you worry about the guys you think are going to be in the top-10. There are guys you think you need to worry about and there are guys you don't think you have to worry about. But you can never write anybody off - not until you get past the 26th race weekend and you know who's in and who's out.
"It's (Bristol) one of my favorites, but Bristol is a track that's feast or famine. If you have a really good day, it's a lot of fun. But if you have one little problem, it normally makes for a very long day. Lately, we've had a couple of long days there. Obviously, we're looking to change that."
The Cup and Busch teams are at Bristol, Tennessee, while the Craftsman Trucks have the weekend off.
Saturday, April 2: Busch Series Sharpie 250, race 8 of 35, 250 laps/133 miles, 2 p.m. TV: FX Channel.
Sunday, April 3: Nextel Cup Food City 500, race 5 of 36, 500 laps/266 miles, 12:30 p.m. TV: Fox.
Racing Trivia Question: Who is Mike Wallace driving for this season?
Last Week’s Question: Which year did Dale Jarrett win the Winston Cup title? Answer. He won the title in 1999.
You may read additional stories by the Racing Reporter at www.race500.com. Any NASCAR-related questions may be addressed to him at P.O. Box 160711, Mobile, AL 36693.
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