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Throop - Blue Ridge used the combination of suffocating defense and dominant pitching to win two of the last three state Class A softball championships and reach three of the last five title games.
The Lady Raiders are using a different approach to produce their latest title run.
An offense that has averaged more than 11 runs per game was in the spotlight Thursday when unbeaten Blue Ridge rallied from a pair of two-run deficits to capture its latest District 2 Class A championship with a 9-5 victory over Old Forge.
After posting just two shutouts in the first half of the season, the Lady Raiders had put together eight straight shutouts while winning by a total of 98-0, heading into the final.
Old Forge, however, was one team Blue Ridge could not dominate.
The Lady Devils scored two runs in each of the first two innings and took a 4-2 lead into the bottom of the fourth.
Erin Keene shut out Old Forge from the third through sixth innings to open the door for a comeback.
"Erin knows, she said to me, 'I'm not going to strike everyone out,'" Blue Ridge coach Bob Pavelski said. "That's OK. We have the fielders behind her and we have good bats."
Those bats produced five hits in a five-run, fourth-inning rally.
Kas Ralston was right in the middle of that rally. After following Keene for back-to-back doubles in the first inning, she came through with a single to drive in the go-ahead run.
"Kas has been coming on strong," Pavelski said. "We changed her batting style a little bit and she's been pounding the ball.
"We changed the angle of her bat. She had been dipping her shoulder so we stiffened up her front end."
Kate Donovan and Jocelyn Dearborn added triples before the inning ended with Blue Ridge in front, 7-4.
Dearborn completed a district tournament in which she was 2-for-2 with a homer and sacrifice fly while driving in five runs in the quarterfinals before driving in two more runs in last week's 10-0 semifinal win over Bishop Hafey.
Sara Bouton, who singled to start the winning rally in the fourth, drove in the last run with another single.
Old Forge scored its final run in the seventh inning before Keene got a strikeout to end the win.
The victory was the third come-from-behind win of the season for Blue Ridge.
"It's a good thing we've done it before," Pavelski said. "We found out we can dig in when we have to.
"We can do it with our bats and we usually do."
WEEK IN REVIEW
Moosic - When he walked off the mound at PNC Field, Roger Clemens was "ready to go," according to New York Yankees vice president and special advisor Gene Michael.
The seven-time Cy Young Award winner drew a season-high crowd of 11,310 to watch him pitch six scoreless innings in a 2-0 International League victory over the Toledo Mud Hens May 28.
At the time, Clemens' third minor-league start appeared to pronounce the 44-year-old ready to pitch for the New York Yankees. A strained groin, however, has since delayed that return, at least slightly.
It was hard to picture trouble for Clemens as he retired the first two batters in all six innings, gave up just two singles and struck out six.
"One of the positives is getting to come and pitch in front of some people who might not always get a chance to see you," Clemens said after performing before a crowd that included an additional 1,000 fans who bought extra tickets at $25 for added seats and $15 for standing room.
In boys' volleyball, Forest City was eliminated in the first round of the Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association state Class AA tournament with a loss to Northeastern, which eventually reached the final.
After dropping the first two games, 25-19 and 25-22, the Foresters rallied to take the third game, 25-16.
Northeastern clinched the win and advanced to pool play with a 25-13 victory in the fourth game.
The state tournament loss ended a season in which Forest City was undefeated until the District 2 championship match.
Jonathan Chesnick was named Most Valuable Player of the Lackawanna League for leading the Foresters to the title. Teammates Steve Beautz and Mike McGraw joined Chesnick as first-team, all-stars.
Mountain View's Joe Scanlon and Adam Walker were also first-team choices, along with Blue Ridge's Nick Smith and Western Wayne's Mike Arnold.
Susquehanna's Drew Crawford and Bill McHale made the second team, along with Mountain View's Nick Stoud, Forest City's Stan Vitzakovitch, Lackawanna Trail's Justin Bedford and Western Wayne's Jared Palko and Joe Smith.
Honorable mention choices from Susquehanna County schools were: Cameron Arthur, Susquehanna; John Corbin and Kyle Davidson, Mountain View; and Justin Pisarcik, Forest City.
In high school baseball, Lake-Lehman center fielder Kevin Butler made the type of play usually reserved for ESPN's SportsCenter to help his team stop Mountain View, 8-3, in the District 2 Class AA championship game at Valley View.
Butler reached high with his back to the center-field fence to steal away what would have been a game-tying, three-run homer by Mountain View's Josh Madas to end the fifth inning and preserve a 5-2 Lake-Lehman lead.
Madas had already hit a two-run homer beyond the 375-foot mark in center field in the first inning for a 2-0 lead that held up until the fourth.
Tom Perry tripled in two runs, then scored the go-ahead run on a Butler single in a three-run Lake-Lehman fourth.
Butler later added a solo homer in the seventh inning after Mike Prater had hit one to lead off the fifth.
Mountain View rallied for one run in the bottom of the seventh and had two men in scoring position when University of Kentucky recruit Scott Davis struck out Madas looking to end the game.
Cody Chrzan had two of Mountain View's three hits against Davis, including a seventh-inning double.
Chad Lasher had four hits and drove in four runs while striking out 12 in a complete game effort as the Eagles defeated Carbondale, 12-8, in the semifinals.
In high school soccer, Forest City's Katelyn Brothwell scored two goals to help the Northern Tier to a 6-0 victory over the Southern Tier in the fifth annual UNICO Soccer Cup at Scranton Memorial Stadium.
Brothwell scored just 26 seconds into the game, which is an all-star contest for graduating high school soccer players. She also scored the first goal of the second half to increase the lead to 4-0.
Caitlin Ely of Montrose started in goal, but did not need to make any saves for the Northern Tier, which had a 30-5 advantage in shots.
Brittany Ely of Montrose and Whitney Twining and Danielle Congdon of Mountain View also played in the game.
The second half of the doubleheader produced an exciting boys' game that ended in a scoreless tie after a 10-minute overtime.
Joe Kulyeshie and Darin Bain, Mountain View's incoming and former head coaches, guided the Northern Tier.
Nate Calabro and Dan Gaughan of Blue Ridge; Scanlon, Ken Jesse and Phil Cicco of Mountain View; Christopher Rezykowski and P.J. Schuler of Elk Lake; and Pisarcik and Chesnick of Forest City all played on the Northern Tier team.
Seth Button was the top hitter on a University of Pittsburgh team which finished a .500 season (27-27) when it was eliminated by Connecticut in the Big East Tournament.
The senior from Elk Lake led Pitt in home runs (eight), doubles (16) and RBIs (31) while finishing second in batting average (.318). Button played in 52 games, starting all but one of them.
Button also appeared in three games on the mound and did not allow a hit or run in three innings. He walked one and struck out two.
THE WEEK AHEAD
Blue Ridge was hoping to advance to Thursday's state Class A softball quarterfinals when it opened the tournament Monday with a game against District 4 champion East Juniata.
A win would have put the Lady Raiders into a match-up against the winner of a game between District 3 champion Upper Dauphin and District 1 champion Bristol.
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
Carl Edwards Wins Dover Busch Race, Dover, DE – Carl Edwards led 122 laps and pulled away from fellow Nextel Cup driver Denny Hamlin during a rash of late-race cautions to win Saturday’s Dover 200 NASCAR Busch Series race at Dover International Speedway.
It was the third victory of the year for Edwards, the series points leader.
Carl Edwards celebrates his Saturday Busch win at Dover.
Photo courtesy of NASCAR
Hamlin, Scott Wimmer, Casey Mears and Matt Kenseth completed the top five in a race that was slowed by two red flags and 11 cautions for a total of 47 laps. Six of those cautions came during the final 40 laps.
Edwards was leading when the day’s sixth yellow flag flew for debris on Lap 161. But when Kenseth and rookie Marcos Ambrose chose not to pit, Edwards found himself restarting the race on Lap 165 in fifth place.
“There were times in the race (the car) was just so good,” Edwards said. “I thought, ‘Man, all we can do is screw this up.’ And then we had that final pit stop, and I thought, ‘There, we did. We screwed it up.’
“Just a small slip-up, that’s how competitive the Busch Series is. Just a small slip, and we got back there (in traffic). Then I got real worried.”
After three more cautions, Edwards caught Kenseth and then found himself in a three-wide battle as Hamlin made his bid for the lead. Once around Kenseth, Edward's Roush Fenway Ford was clearly the fastest on the one-mile concrete track.
“Matt Kenseth did an unbelievable job in that car with no (fresh) tires,” Edwards said. “When my spotter said ‘three wide,’ I thought, ‘This might not turn out all right.’ But to win at Dover is a driver’s dream.
“Denny is real good on the restarts, and I was having trouble with mine. He could have really worked me over there. It was just a fun race.”
It was Edwards' 12th career victory in 85 starts in the Busch Series and his first win at Dover.
Hamlin, who started on the pole and led twice for 50 laps, said his Chevrolet was really a second-place car to Carl after about Lap 50.
“They didn’t have anything at the (nearby) Air Force base that could run with him today,” Hamlin said. “We gave ourselves a shot there at the end, going three wide, but I just didn’t have the bite I needed. ... They really just outclassed us today.”
Edwards leads the point standings by 472 points over Kevin Harvick.
Top-10 Busch leaders: 1. Edwards-2270, 2. Harvick-1798, 3. Blaney-1598, 4. Kenseth-1591, 5. Reutimann-1511, 6. Smith-1478, 7. Mears-1462, 8. Ambrose-1453, 9. Hamilton-1450, 10. J. Burton-1446.
Top-10 Craftsman Truck Series leaders: 1. Skinner-1368, 2. Hornaday-1291, 3. Bodine-1172, 4. Musgrave-1127, 5. Crawford-1109, 6. Kvapil-1098, 7. Benson-1050, 8. Sprague-1044, Fike-990, 10. Crafton-977.
More Racing And Less Talk – Last week Kyle Petty said the sport needs more and better racing, and less hype about what happens off the track.
“You follow it just to see what’s going on, but the reason you follow it right now is because there is nothing going on out on the race track,” said Petty. “If we were putting on the shows I know we can put on, then we would be reading racing papers and not a lesser version of People Magazine every Monday.”
Petty was referring to the continuous series of reports about Dale Earnhardt, Jr. and his announcement to move to another team in 2007.
Martin Truex, Jr., The Other DEI Driver – Martin Truex, Jr., the ‘other’ Dale Earnhardt Inc. driver and teammate to Dale Earnhardt, Jr. will be the senior driver at DEI at the end of this season.
The big question most fans are asking is, is Truex is capable of assuming the lead role?
“Well, I think it will kind of put me a little bit more in the limelight or spotlight, so to speak,” said Truex. “I think I'll have more opportunities with some sponsors coming into DEI working with me instead of everybody wanting to come here and work with Dale, Jr.
“It's kind of been a little difficult at times, playing second fiddle to him. So in that aspect, it will open some doors for me, give me some new opportunities, which I look forward to.
“We're going to sit down and talk about some stuff for the future, ways we can get my name out there and get DEI associated with some great companies for the future.”
If the Mayetta, NJ driver is to assume the major role, he is going to need to show better performance on the track. Truex had back-to-back Busch Series championships, but his only Cup victory was the non-points Nextel Open at Charlotte, two weeks ago.
“As we get to running better, I think before the year is out we could maybe win a few races, make the Chase, do a lot of things that are good for the company, good for the people's morale around here,” he continued. “Dale Jr. leaves, but it's not over. People keep saying it’s over, what are they going to do?
“Dale Jr. is a great asset to the company, obviously, but we can go on, we can thrive, we can win races. To show them that will be a great step in that direction.
“Just performing on the racetrack is the biggest thing. I think we're gaining on that each week.
“Some people go through life worried about what everybody thinks. I'm kind of the opposite. I mind my own business, work hard on my cars, and come to the shop. All that stuff that goes on with the media, with the other drivers, the other crew chiefs, the teams, I don't really pay much attention to it. I do my thing, come in here and work hard on my race car.
“I’m just going to continue to work on our race cars and try to give them all the information I can about what we need to get better on. Just focus in on that, focus in on my race cars really, get them a little bit better. We're getting there, so...
“I don't think there's one thing that we need to fix. It's just real small things. Little things go a long way. Do a few things here and there, we'll be there right with them.”
All three of NASCAR’s major series will be at different venues. The Nextel Cup teams will be at the 2.5-mile Pocono Raceway, Long Pond, PA. The Busch Series is at Nashville, TN, while the Craftsman Trucks race at Texas Motor Speedway, Ft. Worth, TX.
Friday, June 8, Craftsman Trucks, Sam’s Town 400k, race 9 of 25, 167 laps, 8:30 p.m. TV: Speed Channel.
Saturday, June 9, Busch Series Federated Auto Parts 300, race 15 of 35, 225 laps, 6:30 p.m., TV: ESPN2.
Sunday, June 10, Nextel Cup Pocono 500, race 14 of 36, 200 laps, 1:30 p.m. TV: TNT.
Racing Trivia Question: Paul Menard is one of the 2007 Nextel Cup rookies; who does he drive for?
Last Week’s Question: What is the home state of Cup driver Denny Hamlin? Answer. He is from Virginia.
You may contact the Racing Reporter at firstname.lastname@example.org.
From the town of Great Bend, out of Blue Ridge High School, Tim Robinson was recently chosen Keystone College’s Athlete of the Month, for the second time in two short years.
Tim has tied, then broken high jump records at Keystone.
In his freshman year at Keystone, Tim was voted February male Athlete of the Month. His experience from high school and his high school coach, Ken Miller put it all together for Tim to excel in college competition, setting several records at Keystone. His high jump record of 6’ 3.25” set a new Keystone mark, as well as a new personal best.
In the event that he got Keystone’s high jump record, Tim placed third behind two Division I athletes.
He also competes in the 55m hurdles, where again he set a record at Keystone running a 8:55 at the meet at the Susquehanna University Invitational. There, he finished fourth.
At an East Stroudsburg meet he finished eighth in the high jump, against mainly Division I and Division II athletes.
On April 4, 2007 Tim competed at the College of New Jersey Invitational. He jumped 6’ 2.75”, qualifying him for the ECAC Championships. Tim missed the ECAC qualifying mark by one centimeter by jumping 6’ 3.25”, which was good for third place behind two Division I participants. The ECAC mark in the competition was 6’ 3.5”.
Tim finished his sophomore year holding a 3.5 grade point average, still competing in track.
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