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East Juniata senior pitcher Laura Snyder brought an end to Blue Ridge's dream of winning a second straight state softball title and a third in four years.
Snyder fired an eight-inning, no-hitter June 4 in the Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association Class A opener to lead East Juniata to a 1-0 victory.
The loss ends a 45-game winning streak for Blue Ridge, which went 26-0 while winning last season's title and was 19-0 this year while winning the District 2 championship.
Snyder kept another title out of the reach of the Lady Raiders, who came in averaging more than 11 runs per game.
"She was throwing mostly outside and (the umpire) was giving it to her," Blue Ridge coach Bob Pavelski said. "We tried getting the girls a little closer to the plate to reach that outside pitch.
"Usually, we like to drive that pitch to right-center."
The Lady Raiders often had trouble touching, let alone driving, Snyder's pitches. Snyder got 18 of her 24 outs on strikeouts.
Pavelski said that as Snyder put up zeros inning after inning, her success got into the heads of the Blue Ridge hitters.
"They didn't know what to do," he said. "We never anticipated losing like that.
"It was extremely surprising."
Erin Keene did her best to match up with Snyder, a four-year starter at pitcher for the District 4 champions.
Keene held East Juniata to three hits through seven innings, but the Lady Tigers (18-3) produced three eighth-inning hits, including Kelsey Yetter's game-ending single with two outs.
WEEK IN REVIEW
The Binghamton Senators struggled to a last-place finish in the American Hockey League this season, but players who progressed through the team had a major impact on helping the parent Ottawa Senators reach the Stanley Cup finals before losing to the Anaheim Ducks in five games.
Jason Spezza, who led Binghamton to a 2005 division title, tied for the Ottawa playoff scoring lead with seven goals and 15 assists in 20 games. Spezza had 117 points in 80 games for Binghamton in the 2004-05 season.
Ray Emery played every game in goal, posting a 2.26 goals against average and .907 save percentage while going 13-7. Emery played at least 50 games for Binghamton in three straight seasons, ending with the 2004-05 championship team.
Anton Volchenkov, Antoine Vermette, Chris Neil and Christoph Schubert were among the players who appeared in every playoff game for Ottawa in its run to the finals.
Devin Glezen was the leading hitter on the Lock Haven University team that wound up as National Collegiate Athletic Association Division II national runner-up.
Glezen went from a Division I starter at Binghamton University for two seasons to an all-star on the Division II level after transferring.
The junior from Blue Ridge was a first-team Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference selection at second base and a second-team National Coaches Association Division II All-Region pick.
Glezen hit .485 in PSAC play and .356 overall. She started every game and led the team in runs scored (42) and finished second in hits (64).
Brittany Pavelski, another Blue Ridge graduate, appeared in 17 games for Lock Haven, including one start. She scored six runs and was 1-for-9 (.111) at the plate.
Lock Haven (52-5) lost to Southern Illinois-Edwardsville, 3-2, in 12 innings in the national final. Glezen went 1-for-4 and drove in one of the two runs. Pavelski appeared as a pinch runner.
THE WEEK AHEAD
The high school sports year comes to an end for teams around the state when the PIAA baseball and softball championships are held Friday.
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
Rain Favors Gordon At Pocono, Long Pond, PA – Luck continues to favor Jeff Gordon as he won Sunday’s Pocono 500 after rain forced NASCAR to call it after 106 of the scheduled 200 laps.
Jeff Gordon, winner of Sunday's Pocono 500.
Steve Letarte, Gordon’s crew chief, brought him into the pits on lap 82 for tires and gas, after other team members that had been monitoring the weather radar said they felt like there was a good chance of another shower around the halfway point of the race.
“I don’t think you could say we planned it this way, but some other guys on the team suggested it,” said Letarte. “By coming in when we did, we knew we could go to lap 114.”
Even though Gordon had the fuel and clean air, he was losing grip on the race track because his tires were wearing out. Just seconds before the final caution, Ryan Newman, the polesitter, who was running second almost pulled even with Gordon.
“It rained on my car back there on the lap before and I knew we had to get it done, but obviously we didn’t,” said Newman.
It was the third time this season that Gordon appeared to have a lucky charm that helped propel him to victory lane.
“It was Steve Letarte that won this race today,” said Gordon. “We had a great race car, but without the track position and the great call we wouldn’t have been up front.”
Gordon’s teammate, Jimmie Johnson had a left front tire go down and finished 42nd, nine laps down.
The race didn’t start until nearly 5 p.m. because of a rain delay, and teams knew before the green flag was given they never really had a chance to run the 500 miles before darkness set in.
Martin Truex, Jr., winner of Monday’s Dover race, was third. Casey Mears was fourth and Tony Stewart was fifth.
Denny Hamlin, winner of both the 2006 races, finished sixth. Mark Martin, Kyle Busch, Matt Kenseth, and Clint Bowyer rounded out the top-10.
Top 10 Nextel Cup Chase Contenders: 1. J. Gordon-2249, 2. Kenseth-2007, 3. Hamlin-2002, 4. Johnson-1944, 5. J. Burton-1828, 6. Stewart-1733, 7. Edwards-1710, 8. Bowyer-1659, 9. Harvick-1648, 10. Kyle Busch-1613.
Edwards Gets Nashville Busch Win – Carl Edwards passed Clint Bowyer with 33 laps to go and went on to win the Federated Auto Parts 300 for his third consecutive NASCAR Busch Series victory at the track. It was also his fourth win of the season.
Top 10 Busch Series leaders; 1. Edwards-2460, 2. Harvick-1798, 3. Blaney-1715, 4. Reutimann-1649, 5. R. Smith-1633, 6. Kenseth-1591, 7. Hamilton Jr.-1574, 8. Ragan-1771, 9. Bowyer-1529, 10. Biffle-1513.
Top-10 Craftsman Truck Series leaders: 1. Skinner-1543, 2. Hornaday-1461, 3. T. Bodine-1362, 4. Crawford-1274, 5. Musgrave-1265, 6. Kvapil-1253, 7. Sprague-1129, 8. Benson-1126, 9. Crafton-1123, 10. Aaron Fike-1120.
The Constant In Racing Is The Change – Martin Truex, Jr. threw a snag into the Hendrick Motorsports domination of the new COT races, by his win last Sunday at Dover. No driver – not Jeff Gordon, Jimmie Johnson, Kyle Busch or Casey Mears – of the four-team racing giant led a lap.
Surprisingly, Truex’s 7.355-second winning margin was a sign of how strong his No. 1 Dale Earnhardt Inc. Chevrolet was, and his overwhelming victory couldn’t have come at a better time for him or his team.
With the announcement that their star driver, Dale Earnhardt, Jr. will be leaving at the end of this season, DEI needed a boost.
Truex’s win appears to be legitimate. Just two weeks earlier, he had moved through the field to win the Nextel Open at Charlotte.
What does this mean for Truex and DEI?
For Truex it means his team hasn’t buckled under the pressure of losing Dale Jr., and it could be a sign that DEI has turned the corner, or wasn’t as weak as Dale Jr. believed.
When Dale Jr. first announced in May that he was leaving, he said his reasons were because he didn’t think he could win a Cup championship while driving a DEI car.
Since visiting other teams’ shops, his attitude towards DEI capabilities has changed.
“I was surprised at how on par in some places DEI really is,” he said. “The reasons why I left are purely personal and not competition related.”
One of the teams Dale Jr.’s name has been linked to is Joe Gibbs Racing, who fields three Chevrolets, driven by Tony Stewart, J. J. Yeley, and Denny Hamlin.
In the past, JGR has fielded topnotch teams, which includes two Cup championships, but frustration has mounted since the beginning of this season, as all three of the teams are winless after 13 races.
Hendrick teams won nine of the first twelve races, but JGR teams have come up empty handed, even though they have led 1,259 laps this season.
“The good news is we’ve got good cars,” said team president J. D. Gibbs. “The bad news is we’ve shot ourselves in the foot. But I’d rather be dealing with this issue than with cars running 25th every week. We’ll work through this.”
Meanwhile Dodge teams will have a new owner. Cerberus Capital Management of New York has purchased 80 per cent of DaimlerChrysler for $7.5-billion.
Dodge provides factory support for four teams; Evernham Motorsports, Petty Enterprises, Penske, and Chip Ganassi.
No Dodge driver has visited victory lane this season.
“So far this season, none of the Dodge teams have performed at the level they need to,” said Robbie Loomis of Petty Enterprises. “I think we’re all working hard and putting our heads together.”
As part of their six-race coverage, TNT has tapped driver Kyle Petty to be a booth analyst during race broadcasts. He is currently 30th in points. His last win was at Dover in 1995.
Petty said the concept of trying to educate racing fans about the sport’s history hit him about two years ago after a conversation with David Pearson.
“I think we’re blessed to be in a sport that is only 60 years old and a lot of the history is still walking around, and nobody seems to be reaching out to it,” said Petty. “The history, it’s still there.”
Hendrick, JGR, Penske, DEI, and all the good teams will go full circle. Some will rise up, then sink down for a while, and then reappear in victory lane.
Lastly, NASCAR lost its second generation leader, Bill France, Jr., who passed away June 4. His son, Brian has been running the company for several years.
Racing is constantly changing.
Just wait and see.
The Nextel Cup and Craftsman Truck teams are at the 2.0-mile Brooklyn, MI facility, while the Busch teams are at the 1.5-mile Kentucky Speedway in Sparta, KY.
Saturday, June 16, Craftsman Trucks Michigan 200, race 10 of 25, 100 laps, 2:30 p.m. TV: Speed Channel.
Busch Series Meijer 300, race 16 of 35, 200 laps, 8 p.m. TV: ESPN2.
Sunday, June 17, Nextel Cup Citizens Bank 400, race 15 of 36, 200 laps, 2 p.m. TV: TNT.
Racing Trivia Question: What is Ryan Newman’s nickname?
Last Week’s Question: Paul Menard is one of the 2007 Nextel Cup rookies, who does he drive for? Answer. He drives the No. 15 for Dale Earnhardt Inc.
You may contact the Racing Reporter at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Bill France, Jr. Passes
The Racing Reporter
NASCAR Vice Chairman William C. France, whose leadership helped turn a family-owned company into a national phenomenon, died Monday, June 4, at his home in Daytona Beach, Florida, at the age of 74.
Bill France, Jr. assumes the presidency of NASCAR as he accepts the company keys from his father on January 10, 1972.
Photo courtesy of NASCAR
France served as NASCAR’s president from 1972-2000, taking over from his father, NASCAR founder William H.G. “Big Bill” France.
In 2000, France – known as “Bill Jr.” – became NASCAR’s CEO and the chairman of the newly created NASCAR Board of Directors.
In October, 2003, the torch was again passed, with France’s son, Brian France taking over as Chairman and CEO. France became Vice Chairman at that time, whereupon his influence and input remained considerable – and valuable.
“He had a remarkable career and an even-more remarkable life,” said Brian France. “Words cannot express how much he’ll be missed by myself and the rest of our family, and by the NASCAR industry overall.”
France is survived by his wife, Betty Jane France, NASCAR’s assistant secretary; his son, Brian; daughter, Lesa France Kennedy, NASCAR’s vice president and assistant treasurer; his brother, James C. France, NASCAR’s vice chairman and executive vice president; and three grandchildren.
Susquehanna's Gaffey Athlete Of The Month
The month of May for Amber Gaffey featured a career-best and school-record performance, followed by a District 2 championship and meet record, then a state runner-up finish in the pole vault.
That series of efforts makes Gaffey an obvious choice as the latest Susquehanna County Transcript Athlete of the Month, but what makes it most impressive is that it is just a typical month in her four-year high school track and field career.
Sustained excellence is what Gaffey, the 2005 state Class AA champion, takes pride in from her recently completed high school career.
"Winning four district gold medals is a pretty good thing," said Gaffey, who set or tied her own record in each of those four performances. "The thing I'm most proud of is getting four state medals and three being top medals."
Gaffey was second as a freshman and tied for second this year when she bounced back from a relatively disappointing seventh-place finish a year ago.
"I didn't jump the height I wanted or go for the state record like I wanted, but I got to jump with my best friend Kerry (McDermott of Bethlehem Catholic) one last time and I'm happy she won," Gaffey said. "It's hard because you want to do well and you also want her to do well."
Gaffey and McDermott became friends while training together at Vertical Assault in Bath, in the Lehigh Valley. Those training trips helped Gaffey establish herself as a national-level competitor in the pole vault while still contributing in other events in high school.
In dual meets, Gaffey ran the 100 hurdles and threw the discus in addition to her pole vaulting.
Gaffey was also a four-year volleyball player and three-year starter. In her senior season, the Lady Sabers went 14-0 to win the Lackawanna League before finishing second in District 2.
With an athletic scholarship from Towson University in Maryland waiting, Gaffey will be concentrating on the pole vault, where she has already cleared 12-3 in high school. Gaffey chose Towson to continue her track and field and academic careers after visiting East Tennessee State and being accepted at West Virginia and Coastal Carolina.
Amber is the daughter or Robert and Dawn Gaffey of Thompson.
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