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Softball gamer for critique

Discussion in 'Writers' Workshop' started by MidwestSportsGuy, May 18, 2008.

  1. FARMINGTON — When his team dropped its second game of the season in late March, Piedra Vista softball coach Kevin Werth heard the whispers.

    "People were wondering, they were like, well, what's wrong with PV?'" the coach explained, before adding with a sly grin. "There's nothing wrong with PV right now."

    All the Lady Panthers did after "falling" to 10-2 was rip off a 19-game winning streak, a two-month stretch of dominance that ended with hugs, tears and a wealth of smiles Saturday evening at Ricketts Park, where PV captured its third consecutive Class 4A state championship with a decisive 9-0 win over Artesia.

    After Tristin Moone capped a brilliant state tournament by fanning the Lady Bulldogs' Marilee Aranda for the game's final out, the Panthers converged in the pitcher's circle, jubilant players celebrating a spectacular 29-win campaign and a third Blue Trophy.

    "We worked so hard for this the entire season," Jayme Fuller said from a festive Ricketts outfield. "Every single day, every single morning, we get up early, and we just knew that we could come out here and do it if we just all put our minds to it like we have every day."

    The top-seeded Panthers sent Artesia (25-7) into the one-loss bracket with a 6-2 win Saturday morning. The Bulldogs, seeded No. 2, nearly ran out of gas in an elimination game against Aztec, but they put together a furious rally to overcome a late six-run deficit and force a rematch with PV.

    Playing its third game of the day, with 80-degree temperatures swirling, Artesia never mustered a threat in the final.

    "We were wore out, and we don't have our No. 1 in the circle by any means, but there's no excuses," Bulldogs coach Scott Simer said. "PV proved it (Saturday) morning that they're the best and they proved it again this afternoon that they're the best.

    "My hat goes off to Piedra Vista, their team and their coaches. They do a heck of a job."

    Fuller is one of four seniors who played a pivotal role in jumpstarting this dynasty. Two years ago, the Panthers clipped rival Farmington in the title tilt, and went back to back last spring with a narrow victory over St. Pius.

    Saturday, there was no such drama, and picking a star was as easy as placing a finger on the team roster. Moone fanned 10 and allowed five hits in a complete-game effort. The right-hander kept the Bulldogs off balance by expertly changing speeds while an air-tight defense backed her up.

    Fuller hit a soft liner to no-man's land just behind second base in the top of the first inning to drive in two runs, and Chanel Ewing roped a two-run double off the left-field fence to make it 5-0 in the fourth.

    Freshman Jourdan Ensign and sophomore Maurissa Ellis came off the bench to provide the final burst of offense. Ensign's run-scoring single in the sixth increased the cushion to 7-0, and set the stage an inning later for the most improbable of home runs.

    Forget the fact that Ellis' two-run shot to straight-away center field glanced off the glove of center fielder Micaela Contreras before landing on the far side of the fence. What was most impressive was Ellis blasting a homer in her season debut. Sidelined all spring with a torn ACL, she made the most of her lone 2008 at-bat.

    "It was amazing — I was so happy," said the infielder, who ends the season with a perfect 1.000 batting average. "I just wanted to be in there and be a part of the team. I think I worked my butt off all year for that."

    Playing in their hometown, with fans spread 10-deep down the left-field fence, the Panthers played a near-perfect game. Their defense, often overshadowed by a devastating offense that set a club record with 45 home runs, was flawless. Leading 3-0 in the bottom of the first inning, third baseman Valerie Kloberdanz highlighted her team's glove work by starting a nifty 5-4-3 double play.

    For a team with a religious devotion to fast starts, the first inning couldn't have been any better.

    "That was one of the things we talked about before we came out here — let's try to set the tone right off the bat and see if we can win the game right away," Werth said.

    Kloberdanz, like Fuller a three-year starter, tallied two hits. Moone's red-hot bat resurfaced in the third inning when she knocked a triple into the right-field corner.

    The junior couldn't have done much more this spring. After a leg injury forced Fuller to move to second base — she saw limited action in the circle at the end of the season — Moone teamed with freshman Karysta Donisthorpe to fill the gaping void.

    "I can't say enough about her. She's an honor student, a great kid and she's like another coach on the field," Werth said. "She's a great addition to our program."

    While Werth has crafted one of the premier programs in New Mexico, there's one aspect of fielding a perennial power that's proved elusive: evading the celebratory water-cooler dump. Sharing a hug with Fuller, a group of PV fans snuck up behind the coach, Fuller stepped back, and an ice-cold bucket of water poured over his head.

    "I didn't even see it," he said. "Last year, I don't think I got it. The year before, I did, but when you're in (Las) Cruces in 90-degree weather, it's almost, please bring it here and come on in.'"

    With another state title in the books, and a wealth of experience set to return, the Panthers might not be done yet. Kloberdanz, Fuller, Ashley Ward and Lindsey Hecht are the lone graduating seniors — though they leave behind some mighty big shoes to fill.

    Asked when the preparations will begin for Blue Trophy No. 4, Ellis responded swiftly.

    "Starting Monday again," she said.
  2. I forgot a little lead-in before posting. I glanced over the thread about lack of editors willing to work with their writers, and realized I've really had nobody sit down and tear apart a story of mine. In a sick and twisted way, I feel cheated. So I thought I'd post a recent gamer and hope for a little feedback. Any and all comments (with the exception of "you're God-awful) are welcome. Thanks for the help.
  3. fremont

    fremont Member

    air-tight -> airtight? (Don't have an AP stylebook handy here)

    I try to find a way around starting ledes and grafs with dependent clauses, or at least I try to keep it to a minimum.

    I think this is a solid story, all in all. The lede could have been played with (e.g. "Piedra Vista softball coach Kevin Werth heard the whispers when his team dropped its second game of the season in late March...") and it almost lost me but then I saw the Holy Trinity of Sports Gamer Ledes - Winner, Loser, Score - at the end of the third graf, the absolute latest at which the Trinity should be written.

    That had to be a pretty cool atmosphere with the team winning state in their own hometown. Not many ever get to do that. Would have been good sidebar material for this, if in fact it wasn't done like that in the paper. Some locals, parents, alumni etc. had to be psyched about that.
  4. forever_town

    forever_town Well-Known Member

    One point: You refer to the team as the Lady Panthers in one graf, then the Panthers in a later graf.

    Use Lady Panthers only if that's their official name (such as the Lady Vols -- or Lady Volunteers, I'm not sure which). If they're known as the Panthers, call them that. Think of USC (Trojans vs. Women of Troy). That particular example makes me violently ill, but I digress. I would not use Lady Panthers as a colloquialism to refer to the team.
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