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With Hit, D'Attilio Shows She's Back In the Swing

Hylton 4, Osbourn Park 2

By Preston Williams
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, April 16, 2005; Page D12

Rarely has a pinch-hit appearance in a non-dramatic situation caused a stir like the one Hylton senior Amanda D'Attilio spurred when she stepped into the batter's box yesterday in a 4-2 win at Osbourn Park.

Until this week, the University of Maryland signee had missed the entire season since undergoing right shoulder surgery in December. She laid down a bunt in a game earlier in the week, but yesterday was her first chance to swing away, and the anticipation rippled through the chatter-happy Hylton dugout.

Hylton's Ashley Ahearn slides home safely to give Hylton a 3-1 lead. Hylton senior Amanda D'Attilio, a University of Maryland signee, continued her comeback from shoulder surgery. (John Mcdonnell -- The Washington Post)

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With one out in the top of the seventh and a runner on first, D'Attilio fouled off the first pitch, took two balls, then beat out an infield hit. Not even the face mask of her batting helmet could hide a broad smile after she reached first base.

Earlier in the game, as a courtesy runner, she scored what turned out to be the winning run. But it was the plate appearance that worried the reigning Virginia AAA Cardinal District player of the year, who batted .444 last season with no strikeouts.

"I was scared. I was shaking when I got up there," D'Attilio said. "I haven't been up there in a long time, and I was just afraid that I would mess up."

When D'Attilio is able to play in the field, it will be at second base, not in her usual outfield spot, because Coach Harry Bell does not want to risk her re-injuring her shoulder trying to make a long throw. Either way, her return makes a strong team that much stronger.

"It feels great to have her back," said senior center fielder Larissa Williams, who went 3 for 3 yesterday. "The dynamic of the team is much more pumped up when she's here. . . . It means bigger and better things."

Hylton (6-3), on a five-game winning streak, battered three Osbourn Park pitchers for 11 hits, including two by freshman right fielder Jennifer Ahearn. Juniors Kat Beauvais and Brittany Lyddane each had two hits for Osbourn Park (7-5).

Before the game, the teams paid tribute to Robert W. "Mac" McLaughlin, a popular Prince William area umpire who died Dec. 14 at age 57. His daughter, Robin, a former Hylton player and junior varsity coach, threw out the first pitch. Osbourn Park players wore jerseys with "Mac" on the back. Gar-Field team members also were on hand.

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