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Drifton - Kate Donovan, Jocelyn Dearborn and Brittany Welch quickly established control for Blue Ridge in the Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association Class A softball quarterfinals Thursday.
By the time Donovan and Dearborn were done driving in runs with base hits in the top of the first inning and Welch was done with a 1-2-3 inning that included two strikeouts and a failed bunt attempt, it seemed like only a matter of time before the Lady Raiders locked up their third state semifinal berth in the past five years.
Rain complicated matters and forced the Lady Raiders to wait more than 25 hours before eventually wrapping up a 5-1 win over Upper Dauphin after a return trip to the Hazleton area Friday.
The game was suspended after three innings with Blue Ridge ahead, 3-1.
The first three and four of the top five batters reached base for the unbeaten Lady Raiders.
Erin Keene walked and Dayna Keene followed with a bunt single.
Donovan then stroked a single to left-centerfield. When the ball was misplayed, both runners moved into scoring position.
One out later, Dearborn added another solid single to left for a 2-0 lead.
Erin Keene added to the lead by sending a 2-1 pitch over the center-field fence for a solo homer in the top of the second.
Welch was on her way to another dominating performance. She retired the first five batters and seven of the first eight, including five strikeouts. Her control was again impeccable with 20 of the first 25 pitches going for strikes.
A hard rain started falling in the bottom of the third inning and Welch struggled to get through the inning. She added another strikeout, but gave up three hits, two that never made it out of the infield, to allow Upper Dauphin's only run.
The game was stopped at the end of the inning and puddles were soon forming around the infield and in foul territory near third base. Just 11 minutes later, game officials were already making plays to move the completion of the game back a day.
Welch came back Friday with four shutout innings and the Lady Raiders added to the lead to win comfortably.
Blue Ridge opened the state tournament with a 4-0 victory over District 11 champion Williams Valley.
Welch threw a three-hitter with 11 strikeouts and just one walk in the win. She also doubled to drive in Donovan, who had singled, with a run in the first inning.
Blue Ridge added two runs in the fifth and one in the sixth.
Caryn Zurn reached on a one-out double in the fifth. Ashley Luce singled and Dayna Keene walked to load the bases. Erin Keene then singled in two runs.
Donovan singled to lead off the sixth and eventually scored on a Dearborn single to right field.
WEEK IN REVIEW
The Blue Ridge baseball team advanced runners to third base four times, but could not cover the final 90 feet while falling to District 3 champion Mount Calvary, 1-0, in the state Class A baseball tournament opener.
The Red Raiders had their best chances with runners on second and third in the fifth and sixth inning. They also had runners on the corners in the first and on third in the fourth inning. They had a total of seven runners reach scoring position, including the second inning when they put men on first and second.
"We felt we were a better baseball team than they were, but they had a good athlete on the mound and he made good pitches when he needed them," Blue Ridge coach Mike Ostrowski said.
Jesse Patrick kept the Raiders off stride by mixing a mid-80s fastball with a sinker and curveball.
Jordan Smith threw a three-hit complete game for the Raiders, but was hurt by an unearned run in the second inning.
Jon Carpenter had two hits while Sam Longacre and Mike Bloomer added one each for the Raiders.
Mount Calvary won again later in the week to reach the state semifinals.
In high school softball, Lakeland and Dallas advanced to an all District 2 state semifinal in Class AA.
Dallas ended Elk Lake's season during the District 2 tournament with a 2-1 victory in 13 innings after the teams were scoreless through 12.
Four Susquehanna County players earned first-team berths on the Lackawanna Boys' Volleyball League all-star team.
Corey Butler and Joe Scanlon, who both were setters and middle and outside hitters for league champion Mountain View, were part of the first team.
Blue Ridge middle hitter Sam Ross and Forest City middle blocker Steven Beautz also made the first team, along with Lackawanna Trail's Shane Loss and Western Wayne's Mike Arnold.
County players claimed all but one spot on the second team.
Middle blocker Mike McGraw and setter Jonathan Chesnick, who helped Forest City tie Mountain View for the best record in the regular season, are on the second team.
Mountain View libero Nick Stoud, Blue Ridge outside hitter Cody Croop and Susquehanna middle hitter Cameron Arthur were also part of the second team.
Mountain View, which advanced to the state tournament by placing second in the district, had six players receive honorable mention. Kyle Davidson, John Geyer, John Corbin, T.J. Rusek, Adam Walker and Josh Jamagin were recognized from the Eagles.
Other county players to receive honorable mention were: Fran Roach and Dan Allen of Blue Ridge; Mike Zack and Stan Vitzakovitch of Forest City; Drew Crawford and Matt Parsons of Susquehanna; and Dakota Berg of Elk Lake.
THE WEEK AHEAD
Blue Ridge was scheduled to play the state semifinal Monday for a shot at its third state softball championship game appearance.
If the Lady Raiders made it past Northern Cambria in Monday's game at Williamsport, they would play Friday at 10 a.m. at Shippensburg University in the state championship game. Smethport and Iroquois were playing in the other semifinal.
Blue Ridge won the 2004 state Class A championship after finishing second in 2002.
LOCAL STANDOUTS ON PREZELSKI CAMP STAFF
The Julius Prezelski Basketball Camp, which is scheduled for June 21-23 at Montrose High School, will feature a staff made up largely of some of the county's top high school and college basketball players.
The camp is for boys and girls entering grades 4-9 in the fall.
Prezelski announced the camp staff, including former first-team division all-stars Kevin Lee, Lawrence Tompkins and Tony Rezykowski, who are all playing in college. Lee, from Susquehanna, is at DeSales University. Tompkins, from Blue Ridge is at Marywood University. Rezykowski, from Elk Lake, is at Marywood College.
Mountain View's Robbie Johnson and Blue Ridge's Jocelyn Dearborn, who will be among the top returning players in their respective leagues next season, are on the staff.
Susquehanna County Transcript Athlete of the Year Whitney Williams from Mountain View is also part of the camp staff, along with three players from Montrose's division championship team – Chelsey Parvin, Amanda Lass and Christine Brown.
The camp will provide individual instruction, daily individual skills contests, report cards, two league games per day, trophies, camp T-shirt and an appearance by Crazy George Schauer.
At the time of his retirement, Prezelski was the state's all-time winningest boys' basketball coach with most of his more than 700 wins coming while coaching at Forest City.
For more information and a camp application form, contact Prezelski at 785-3913.
TOM ROBINSON writes a weekly local sports column for the Susquehanna County Transcript. He can be reached online at RobbyTR@aol.com.
The Racing Reporter
HAMLIN Comes Back To Win Pocono 500, Long Pond, PA – Denny Hamlin, driver of the No. 11 Fed-Ex Chevrolet earned the title, “Comeback Kid,” after his performance in Sunday’s Nextel Cup Pocono 500.
Denny Hamlin celebrates his Sunday win at Pocono.
The Joe Gibbs rookie sat on the pole and led the first 49 laps, before spinning out with a cut tire. He pitted 11 different times for repairs and then came back from 40th position to win.
“This car was on rails all day long,” said Hamlin. “We made a few changes every other stop, and it was just unbelievable. I thought the race was over when we blew that tire.
“My success has a lot to do with Mike Ford (crew chief on the No. 11). He just put an awesome car under me. It’s easy to do when you’ve got a car as dominant as ours.”
Hamlin retook the lead from Greg Biffle on lap 163 of the 200 lap race. Except for a few laps when he pitted for fresh tires, he led the remainder of the race.
Jeff Gordon crashed hard into the outside wall of turn one during lap 190.
“That was one of the hardest hits I’ve ever taken,” said Gordon. “I think we broke a right front brake rotor going into one.”
The race was red flagged while speedway safety crews cleaned up the track and replaced broken safety panels in the wall.
Green flag racing resumed on lap 195. The three leaders were: Hamlin, Kurt Busch, and Tony Stewart. Hamlin easily pulled away from Busch and the rest of the field for his first Nextel Cup points win in his 21st start.
The win was only the third time in the history of the speedway that a driver has won in his first race. The other two drivers were Richard Petty and Carl Edwards.
Hamlin moved from eleventh to ninth in points.
Kurt Busch finished second, while Hamlin’s teammate, Tony Stewart, who ran the entire race with a broken shoulder was third.
“It was obviously easier to race at a place like this than at Dover last week,” said Stewart. “It was tough Friday and we were worried yesterday about our mobility, but I went through the whole race without being sore.
“We’ve got one day off, then we’ve got a road course test, so we’ll see how we stack up there.”
Brian Vickers, Matt Kenseth, Greg Biffle, Kasey Kahne, Scott Riggs, Jeff Burton, and Jimmie Johnson rounded out the top ten.
Dale Earnhardt, Jr. and the No. 8 Budweiser team ran among the top-five for much of the afternoon, but struggled as the race reached the later stages, dropping to 14th-place at the finish. The finish drops Dale, Jr. two positions in the Nextel Cup point standings, from fourth to sixth place.
Top-10 Nextel Cup Chase contenders: 1. Johnson-2145, 2. Kenseth-2097, 3. Martin-1907, 4. Stewart-1888, 5. Kahne-1866, 6. Earnhardt Jr.-1850, 7. Burton-1758, 8. Harvick-1715, 9. Hamlin-1682, 10. Kyle Busch-1669.
EDWARDS Dominates Music City Busch Race – Carl Edwards led 70 of the last 85 laps of Saturday’s Busch Series race at Nashville and beat Clint Bowyer to the finish by 0.92 seconds. It was Edwards’ second win in the past three Busch races.
Top-10 Busch Series leaders; 1. Harvick-2386, 2. Edwards-2114, 3. Bowyer-1993, 4. Hamlin-1958, 5. Biffle-1884, 6. Yeley-1855, 7. Kyle Busch-1814, 8. Menard-1787, 9. Sauter-1653, 10. K. Wallace-1616.
BODINE Takes Texas Truck Win – Todd Bodine only led one lap at Texas Motor Speedway, and that was the last and final one, as he passed Mike Skinner for his third win of the season.
Skinner led 113 laps as he dominated the race in a Toyota, but a late caution, brought out by Jack Sprague erased the four and one-half second lead he had built.
It was Bodine’s 10th career victory. He has now won three of the past four Texas Truck races.
Top-10 Craftsman Truck Series leaders: 1. Bodine-1490, 2. Musgrave-1375, 3. Reutimann-1354, 4. Benson-1258, 5. Sprague-1203, 6. Starr-1187, 7. Bliss-1187, 8. Setzer-1175, 9. Crawford-1168, 10. Crafton-1155.
CAR OF TOMORROW Tests Going Well – Testing of NASCAR’s “Car of Tomorrow,” which will debut in 2007 appears to be going well.
A two-day test in Charlotte was the first since the addition of the wing instead of a spoiler. Having a wing, which sits above the rear deck lid, reduces the turbulence in the air as it passes over the rear of the car in traffic.
“The dreaded aero push will never be gone because two cars moving through the same air will never be equal,” Nextel Cup Series Director John Darby said. “But one thing the wing does do and we did see here the last two days, it is very efficient and very effective at supplying the trail car with much more air than what we have currently.
“That ultimately will help that car turn and feel better and make the air a whole lot less dirty."
At Atlanta, drivers wrecked in their first test session of driving in a pack, but there were no incidents during the multicar runs at LMS.
At the next test, teams will also have a tire they are more used to, since they were using the hard Charlotte tire for the test. Drivers did battle a tight condition much as they did with the current car-tire combination.
“In one sense, we were testing [here] under a worst-case scenario with a hot, slick race track and a real hard tire, and we were still able to achieve a comfort level at least as good as what we had last weekend and in some cases even better,” Darby continued.
“A lot of gains have been made. The good thing is we came out of here with a new list of things we needed to address and fix, but they're all minor things.”
The Craftsman Trucks and Cup teams will be at Brooklyn, Michigan, while the Busch Series races at Kentucky Speedway.
Saturday, June 17, Craftsman Trucks Con-Way Freight 200, race 10 of 25, 100 laps, 3 p.m. TV: Speed Channel.
Busch Series Meijer 300, race 16 of 35, 200 laps, 7:30 p.m. TV: FX Channel.
Sunday, June 18 Nextel Cup 3M Performance 400, race 15 of 36, 200 laps, 1 p.m. TV: Fox.
Racing Trivia Question: Burney Lamar is a new driver in the Busch Series. Which team does he drive for?
Last Week’s Racing Trivia Question: Which Cup team does Scott Riggs drive for? Answer. He drives the No. 10 Ray Evernham Dodge.
You may read additional racing stories at www.race500.com.
Jordan Smith's pitching helped the Blue Ridge baseball team to a rare extension of its schedule into June.
As a result, the senior left-hander is the Susquehanna County Transcript Athlete of the Month for May.
Smith finished the month with back-to-back wins in the District 2 semifinals and finals. He pitched a two-hitter in 9-2 semifinal romp over top-seeded Old Forge, then worked the first four innings as the Raiders opened leads of 3-0 and 7-3 in an eventual 10-9 championship game victory over Bishop Hafey.
When he shut down the Blue Devils in the semifinals, Smith avenged both of his regular-season losses.
"They managed to sneak past me both times," Smith said. "I wasn't going to let it happen again. The whole team wanted that game.
"I was focused in on the bus ride to the game more than I ever have been. The biggest thing getting us to states, though, was how many runs our offense scored."
After both Smith and the offense dominated against the favorite to win the district title, the final turned into a wild finish.
"I was a little tired," Smith said. "I threw a lot of pitches against Old Forge.
"I felt solid for the first three innings."
With the team leading, 7-3, after Smith gave up three runs in a rough fourth inning, he talked things over with coach Mike Ostrowski, who decided it was time for a fresh arm.
The Raiders held on to become the first Blue Ridge boys' team to capture a District 2 championship.
"We have a meeting before every year to set goals for the team," Smith said. "One of those goals was to win districts.
"There were nothing but smiles when we did it and got those medals."
Smith gave up just an unearned run in the state tournament. He wound up 2-1 with 24 strikeouts, seven hits allowed, five pickoffs and a 1.59 earned run average in the playoffs.
For the season, Smith was 8-3 with 102 strikeouts, 13 pickoffs and a 1.61 ERA in 61 innings.
Jordan, the son of Scott and Diane Smith of New Milford, was a starting pitcher for four years at Blue Ridge. He also played soccer and basketball as a freshman and sophomore before concentrating on baseball.
That concentration has paid off in a baseball scholarship to attend Kutztown University, an NCAA Division II school and a member of the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference.
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