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Wilkes-Barre - The most successful four-year stretch ever produced by a Susquehanna County girls' high school athletic team came to an end Thursday.
Blue Ridge reached the final eight in the state for the third time in four years, but fell short of its two earlier trips to the state Class A softball final when it was eliminated by Minersville, 6-5, in the quarterfinals at King's College's Betzler Field.
Pitcher Brittany Pavelski and shortstop Heather Franks, starters throughout the four years, played their last games. They joined catcher Devin Glezen and first baseman Brooke Hinkley, two four-year starters who graduated in 2004, to lead Blue Ridge to the 2002 state final and 2004 state championship.
"They had a great four years," coach Bob Pavelski said.
The Lady Raiders put it together again late this season, winning the District 2 title for the second straight season and taking a first-round state tournament game before falling short against six-time state champion Minersville.
Pavelski, Franks and Kate Donovan each had two hits to lead Blue Ridge's offense in the quarterfinals. Donovan scored three runs and Erin Keene drove in two with a bunt and a sacrifice fly.
Minersville solved Pavelski's pitching and the Blue Ridge defense, while not committing errors, had just enough trouble to allow the Miners to score six runs.
"They came out swinging, no doubt," coach Pavelski said. "In the first inning, they started repeating my signs to the batter.
"I didn't know they had anybody there in the last game and I hadn't changed my signs."
Pavelski has called most of his daughter's pitchers for the last four years with signals from the edge of the dugout. When Minersville's coaching staff translated those signs, the Miners picked up a key edge that they used to score once in the first and four times in the third.
"Our girls played real hard," coach Pavelski said. "I made some serious mistakes."
Pavelski second-guessed himself for having Keene try another bunt with the bases loaded in the third. Minersville got the force at home.
"We definitely made some mental mistakes," he said. "Normally, we don't throw the ball around and our catcher doesn't come away from the plate with a runner on third."
Minersville scored once on a sacrifice fly on a foulout to first base when first baseman Keene was unable to connect with the moving target as catcher Shannon Class tried to retreat to the plate.
The District 11 champion Miners, however, also hit the ball hard and ran the bases aggressively.
Leadoff hitter Alicia White had three of the team's five stolen bases and scored twice. Liz Williams, the third hitter, went 2-for-4 with a triple and three RBIs.
After falling behind, 5-2, Blue Ridge rallied with two runs in the third and another in the fifth to tie the game.
Keene's bunt and an RBI single by Ashley Luce produced the runs in the second.
Pavelski and Franks led off the third with a double and single. Donovan then reached on an error. Franks was erased on the bunt attempt, but Jill Majeski drew a bases-loaded walk to force in Donovan.
Donovan led off the fifth with an infield single, took second on a Caryn Zurn sacrifice, when to third on a single by Class and scored on Keene's sacrifice fly.
Pavelski and Franks had back-to-back hits again in the sixth but were stranded in scoring position.
Minersville pitcher McKenzie Hummel retired the last four batters, including using changeups to record her sixth and seventh strikeouts.
"Anybody who watches us knows we struggle on off-speed pitches," coach Pavelski said.
Hummel then drove in the winning run with a two-out single in the seventh after Jamie Dieter had doubled to left with one out.
WEEK IN REVIEW
Blue Ridge opened the week with a 3-1 win over Upper Dauphin in the first round of the state tournament. It was the second straight season that the Lady Raiders eliminated the Trojans from state play.
Pavelski struck out 10 and held Upper Dauphin scoreless for the first five innings of the game in Harrisburg.
Donovan hit the game-winning triple in the top of the fifth inning.
Blue Ridge took advantage of six errors to score three unearned runs.
Jocelyn Dearborn reached on one error and scored on another. Franks reached base on the second error and scored on Donovan's triple.
Upper Dauphin scored in the bottom of the sixth, but Blue Ridge answered in the top of the seventh.
Donovan scored on another error.
In high school baseball, Montrose fell behind early and lost to Halifax, 12-5, in the first round of the state Class AA tournament.
The Wildcats scored seven runs in the first and opened an 11-0 lead after three innings.
Adam Koppenhaver pitched the first three innings, retiring all nine batters and striking out seven.
Coach Rick Ansel then removed Koppenhaver to keep him eligible to pitch in the quarterfinals.
Montrose was able to score five runs and avoid the 10-run rule.
Halifax opened the game by loading the bases. Javan Ring then cleared them with a three-run double before Montrose recorded the first out.
When Wes Erdman took over on the mound for Halifax in the fourth, Montrose scored three times. The Meteors added another run in the fifth and another in the sixth.
Jeff Snyder and Justin Huff led the Montrose offense.
In professional baseball, Montrose graduate Rich Thompson missed a potential trip back to Northeastern Pennsylvania when the Indianapolis Indians played at the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Red Barons in a four-game series.
Thompson was sent down from Indianapolis, the top farm club of the Pittsburgh Pirates, to the Altoona Curve May 15.
The outfielder continues to be effective because of his speed, racking up impressive numbers in runs, triples and stolen bases. He has struggled, however, at the plate this season until rediscovering his batting stroke last week with Altoona.
Thompson was hitting .211 with two triples and nine runs while going 13-for-15 stealing bases in 28 games at Indianapolis. In his first 23 games at Altoona, he hit .232 with two triples and 16 runs while going 10-for-11 stealing bases.
Thompson raised his average from .172 to .232 with a six-game hitting streak in which he was 8-for-18 (.444) with five runs and three stolen bases.
Glezen, the catcher on last season's state champions while at Blue Ridge, had a successful freshman season at Division I Binghamton State.
Binghamton finished 12-26, including 5-13 in the America East Conference. Glezen appeared in 36 games, starting 33, primarily as the catcher.
Glezen finished tied for second on the team in doubles (five) and home runs (three). She was third in RBIs (14) and fourth in batting average (.275). She led Binghamton's catchers by throwing out nine opposing base stealers.
THE WEEK AHEAD
The UNICO Scranton Soccer Cup is scheduled for Thursday night at Scranton Memorial Stadium.
The game features graduating senior all-stars from Lackawanna League teams.
The girls' game is scheduled for 6 p.m. The boys' game follows at 8 p.m.
TOM ROBINSON writes a weekly local sports column for the Susquehanna County Transcript. He can be reached online at RobbyTR@aol.com.
It’s CARL EDWARDS At Pocono
Pocono, PA – Carl Edwards had never seen the Pocono Raceway before Sunday's Pocono 500, but he passed the dominant car of Brian Vickers twice for his second win of the season.
It was also car owner, Jack Roush’s first Pocono win.
Carl Edwards doing his trademark backflip at Pocono. Credit: NASCAR
Edwards started the day pretty dejected, because he didn’t get to run in Saturday’s Nashville Busch race because of rain.
But he wound up with a much bigger prize.
“I didn’t realize this was Jack Roush’s first win at Pocono, but it’s an unbelievable one for me,” said Edwards. “For some reason, it’s a very emotional win. The win means a lot, but the trophy is going to a high school kid that I met.
“My guys in the pits are who won this race. They were perfect.”
Edwards took the lead for the last time on lap 170 of the 200-lap race, and even though he pitted for two fresh tires, once back on the track he maintained his lead.
There was supposed to be a green/white checkered finish after a caution flag came out on lap 194 when Ryan Newman hit the wall. As soon as the green flag was given on lap 199, Ken Schrader hit the wall, and then Bobby Labonte wrecked, bringing out the final caution, and freezing the field.
It was the biggest come-from-behind victory in Pocono racing history, as Edwards came from 29th to first.
It was also a career day for Hendrick driver Brian Vickers, who finished second. He drove a hard race and led 121 laps, the most of any driver.
“On a long run there’s no way we could have gotten around Edward’s 99 car,” said Vickers. “If we could have come in and taken on four fresh tires, then maybe, on a short run we could have made it around him.”
Polesitter, Michael Waltrip finished sixth.
Jimmie Johnson increased his lead over second-place driver Greg Biffle to 119 points.
Roush Racing has now won seven of the fourteen races this season, while Hendrick Motorsports has five victories. Richard Childress and Ray Evernham teams have one each.
Top ten finishing order: 1. Carl Edwards, 2. Brian Vickers, 3. Joe Nemechek, 4. Kyle Busch, 5. Mark Martin, 6. Michael Waltrip, 7. Jimmie Johnson, 8. Kevin Harvick, 9. Jeff Gordon, 10. Rusty Wallace.
The Chase For the Nextel Cup Contenders: 1. Johnson-2058, 2. Biffle-1939, 3. Sadler-1781, 4. Edwards-1759, 5. Martin-1743, 6. Newman-1733, 7. R. Wallace-1718, 8. Harvick-1715, 9. J. Gordon-1700, 10. Stewart-1682, 11. Busch-1681, 12. McMurray-1666, 13. Mayfield-1659.
Are Fans Getting A Fair Shake? Reading the stories about NASCAR attempting to entice a bidding war between several cities for their proposed Hall of Fame, it quickly becomes clear that the taxpayers are in for a ride. Charlotte, as well as other cities still in this particular NASCAR race also appears too willing to spend the taxpayers' money to claim the coveted hall.
Charlotte officials propose to spend $139.5 million to build a facility to house the HOF. Costs will be split between local, state and private contributors, with most of the local money coming from a two per cent lodging tax.
The grand opening is estimated to cost between $5 and $10 million for the 2008 opening date. Annual operating costs are projected to be $750,000 the first year, and increase by $50,000 every year.
The City of Charlotte will own the building, but NASCAR will receive a guaranteed annual royalty payment for use of its name, regardless of whether the facility turns a profit or not.
In addition, NASCAR will decide which drivers are enshrined.
For NASCAR and the France family, it’s a win-win situation.
Oh sure, you and I will be able to visit it, for a fee, and we will be paying for it when we stay at a Charlotte hotel, but what is NASCAR bringing to the table?
In a recent column we expressed the opinion that NASCAR had the control and know-how to manipulate races.
Getting taxpayers to foot the bill, while maintaining control, is just another slick NASCAR marketing strategy.
I think it's great as a fan to take racing seriously, and I do so almost weekly. That doesn't mean that we need to take ourselves so seriously all of the time.
H. R., York, PA, writes: “Just watch how when Junior is about to be lapped, how quick the caution comes out. NASCAR and Darrell have Junior believing he is number one. If his name was Smith, we wouldn’t know who he was.”
H.E.D. of Baltimore, MD: “I agree that some of NASCAR’s rules favor some of their pet drivers. They didn’t fine Busch for throwing a water bottle and hitting an official. If it had been some other drivers, it would have been, ‘count the money, lose the points.’”
R. S., Mifflinburg, PA: “Look at all the penalties and suspensions this year. I realize if the teams are not following the rules, there needs to be discipline. But it's getting so ridiculous! I'm sure with all the points they are penalized, that could affect the championship outcome someday.
“There are times when I question their reason for throwing certain cautions. It just seems at times they are not consistent with their actions no matter how fair they say they are trying to be.
“You don't see this happening as much in the IRL and Champ Car racing. Their racing speeds are amazing! Regardless, all the NASCAR drivers are great and certainly talented to be running at those fast speeds. I can't imagine my life without racing in it.”
CLINT BOWYER Wins Nashville Busch Race – Clint Bowyer won his first career Busch Series victory on Sunday, as he took the rain-delayed Federated Auto Parts 300 at Nashville Superspeedway by more than two seconds.
The top-10 Busch Series leaders: 1. Sorenson-2026, 2. Truex Jr.-1975, 3. Bowyer-1975, 4. Edwards-1930, 5. K. Wallace-1870, 6. Lewis-1786, 7. Hamlin-1764, 8. Stremme-1742, 9. Biffle-1686, 10. Keller-1678.
SPRAGUE Gets 25th Truck Win – Jack Sprague beat Johnny Benson by 1.3 seconds to win the Chex 400K, Friday night at Texas Motor Speedway. It was his first win in more than a year and the 25th of his career.
The top-10 Craftsman Trucks Series leaders: 1. Musgrave-1321, 2. Craven-1304, 3. Hamilton-1259, 4. Hornaday-1255, 5. Setzer-1234, 6. Spencer-1184, 7. Crafton-1178, 8. Cook-1153, 9. Benson-1128, 10. Sprague-1119.
The Craftsman Trucks and Nextel Cup teams are at Brooklyn, MI, while the Busch Series will be at Kentucky Speedway.
Saturday, June 18, Craftsman Trucks Michigan 200, race 10 of 25, 100 laps/200 miles, 3 p.m. TV: Speed Channel.
Busch Series MEIJER 300, race 16 of 35, 200 laps/300 miles, 7:30 p.m. TV: FX Channel.
Sunday, June 19, Nextel Cup Michigan 400, race 15 of 36, 200 laps/400 miles, 1:30 p.m. TV: Fox.
Racing Trivia Question: How many Cup races has Ryan Newman won this season?
Last Week’s Question: Is NASCAR more about racing, or has the sport’s entertainment overshadowed the action on the track? Answer. It appears NASCAR is majoring on entertainment, rather than the actual racing aspect.
You may read additional stories by the Racing Reporter at www.race500.com. You may write him at P. O. Box 160711, Mobile, AL 36616.
Reprinted from the New York Outdoor News, Elizabethtown, NY.
Josh Houghtaling, Windsor, NY, was trolling for the first time ever on Lake Ontario on May 12 when a fish of large proportions grabbed hold and headed the opposite way from the boat.
By the time the battle was over, Houghtaling was looking at his first salmon ever – a fish his friend, David Hodack of Susquehanna, PA figured was over 25 pounds.
Since they were entered in the Lake Ontario Counties Spring Trout and Salmon Derby, they took their catch to The Boat Doctors in Olcott to weigh in their prize. The result was a 26-pound, nine-ounce fish that took over the lead in the competition.
The fish, caught with a purple Renosky stick bait on the Niagara Bar, Niagara County, held up the remaining three days and Houghtaling was $10,000 richer as the ten-day LOC Derby concluded.
Houghtaling and Hodack had arrived the night before his catch with the hopes of fishing Thursday morning, but the winds kept their 21-foot Crestliner “Little Honchez” on the trailer until 2 p.m. when winds started to subside. They were trolling 70 feet down over 140 feet of water when the king hit, about a mile or two about a mile or two east of the red buoy marker. Forty minutes late, Hodack netted Houghtaling’s first king salmon.
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