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Under-14 Bullets roll, then rally for state title

By JOHN SCHWARB

© St. Petersburg Times,
published July 18, 2001


The alphabet soup list of tournament titles continues to build for the Clearwater Bullets 14-and-under team.

With an AAU national title and ISA (Independent Softball Association) state crown already in hand, the Bullets added yet another trophy last weekend in Pembroke Pines with the NSA (National Softball Association) state championship.

The Bullets followed their usual pattern -- solid pitching, come-from-behind hitting -- and this time, even the bad weather helped.

Through the first three games of the weekend, the Bullets scored 32 runs, winning each time. Then a four-hitter by Bree Spence (Countryside) lifted them to a 3-2 win over the Palm Beach Lady Gators and into the winner's bracket final. There, the West Pines Diamond Dusters got out to a 4-0 lead by scoring in each of the first three innings. The Bullets cut the lead to 4-3 in the bottom of the third with hits from Emily Rivard, Jennifer Jacobs, Spence and Dani Hofer (Palm Harbor U.).

Hofer came in to pitch in the fourth and gave up one hit the rest of the way, allowing the Bullets to rally once more and pull out a 5-4 win.

The rains then moved in, and the Bullets were awarded the tournament title by being the only remaining unbeaten team.

The Bullets leave today for the Independent Softball Association World Series in Georgia along with several other area teams, including the 18-and-under Clearwater Bombers.

The Bombers are the defending ISA national champions and have won four of six tournaments this season.

Also at the NSA state tournament, the 16-and-under Bullets placed third out of 36 teams, the largest bracket of the tournament.

HEALING: The Clearwater Lady Shockers 16-and-under team played with heavy hearts at Pembroke Pines as two of its players stayed behind nursing injuries sustained in a car crash. Halle Painter (PHU) and Heather Sismilich (Countryside) ended up in intensive care July 8 after a Ford Mustang they were riding in flipped in Palm Harbor.

Sismilich had surgery on a broken wrist and injured hand and was released from St. Joseph's Hospital in Tampa last week.

"Her seat belt saved her," coach Chuck Riggs said.

Painter remains in the hospital but is out of intensive care and could go home soon.

At the NSA, the Lady Shockers could not get anything going at the plate. Pitchers Lynn Footlick (Northeast) and Jessica Brinkman (PHU) kept things close, but four runs in three games led to three losses.

"I told our girls we went, we learned, and we played well through adversity," Riggs said.

- Club softball update will run Wednesdays during the summer. Coaches with club softball news should call John Schwarb at 445-4170 or e-mail schwarb@sptimes.com by noon Tuesdays.

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