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West Point cruises in tournament |

West Point cruises in tournament

| Tuesday, July 31, 2007 12:00 a.m

ALBANY, N.Y. – The West Point Little League 11- and 12-year-old girls softball team enjoyed an experience akin to batting practice Monday when it recorded 17 hits to defeat Laurel (Del.) 13-1, on the third day of the U.S. East Region Tournament of Champions.

“We’ve been practicing our hitting every day,” West Point coach Ron Mellinger said. “One hour before we come to each game, we use the pitching machine and soft toss, and it finally paid off.”

The game was still in doubt when West Point took a 4-1 lead into the top of the sixth inning. A total of 15 batters later, West Point had nine more runs and an easy victory.

West Point had two walks and six hits, including five in a row, and reached base on four Laurel errors in the inning. First baseman Taylor Smail keyed the inning with a two-run double, and right fielder Alyssa Mellinger, catcher Alyssa Bates and shortstop Emily Yokopenic added RBI singles.

“It was a breakout game for us,” Ron Mellinger said. “We really haven’t hit, but today we did.”

Third baseman Katie Hickey led the offense with four hits in four at-bats, including three singles, a double, two RBI and a run scored.

Bates was 3 for 5, including a double and an RBI single, and Smail and Alyssa Mellinger each finished 2 for 4 with two RBI. Left fielder Kelsie Zoppetti had a single and scored two runs, and Caitlin Tobin had a single and a run scored.

West Point jumped out to an early 1-0 lead after Bates led off the game with a single and scored two batters later on Mellinger’s RBI groundout.

The bats came back in the third inning, giving pitcher Hope Pehrson all the runs she needed, with two singles by Leah Daigle and Mellinger and a two-out, two-run double by Hickey.

Pehrson took care of the rest, giving her team six solid innings, allowing one run on four hits, striking out nine and walking only one.

The victory puts West Point (2-1) in sole possession of second place behind Pequannock (N.J.) the only remaining undefeated team at 2-0. The New Jersey champion handed West Point its only loss, 4-1, Saturday. Laurel dropped to 0-3.

West Point will play its final game in pool play at a 2 p.m. today against 1-1 Hughesville (Md.) which lost an 11-10 slugfest to Pequannock on Monday. A West Point victory and a Mid-Island (N.Y.) loss would solidify a spot in the semifinal game at 3 p.m. Friday. The championship game is Saturday, and the winner goes to the Little League Softball World Series in Portland, Ore.

“It was nice to get a win, but we have to win (today),” Ron Mellinger said. “Anyone who can score 10 runs on New Jersey is someone to worry about.”

Bullskin 7, Blairsville 4

The Bullskin 9- and 10-year-old Little League all-stars finished off the season with a victory over visiting Blairsville in the Section 2 finale for both clubs.

“We finally played a complete game,” Bullskin coach Darren White said. “It was a good momentum-builder for next year and good for their morale to end on a good note.”

For District 26 champion Blairsville, the opportunity was there to advance to the Section 2 championship today. However, the loss to Bullskin ended the visitors’ season.

“We’re disappointed,” Blairsville coach Rick Shirley said. “But we had a good year and we had a good run.”

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