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Loudoun Valley Is Proving to Be Full of Surprises

Tuesday, April 19, 2005; Page D06

Loudoun Valley's Joe Spicer said in 20 years of coaching softball he had signaled only once for a suicide squeeze play. But when the opportunity presented itself against AA Dulles District rival Stone Bridge in the bottom of the 10th inning Friday night in Purcellville, he didn't hesitate.

"It was just set up so perfectly," Spicer said. "I couldn't resist."

Alyson Moler and Loudoun Valley are looking to repeat their Virginia AA title performance from 2003. (Hunter Wilson For The Washington Post)

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No. 8 DeMatha at No. 2 Paul VI Catholic, Today, 6: The Panthers (17-1) are coming off their first loss of the season, a 5-3 defeat against Good Counsel, and will be without one of their best players, Alex Gregory (back sprain). Three-time WCAC champion DeMatha, meantime, has won two in a row.

No. 7 Westfield at Herndon, Friday, 6:30: Westfield (9-2, 1-1 AAA Concorde District) will be looking to bounce back from losses to Oakton and St. John's last week. Herndon (7-1, 1-1) is also coming off its first defeat against Oakton. Softball

Hylton at Gar-Field, Tomorrow, 4: Gar-Field (10-2) had won five consecutive Cardinal District titles before Hylton (6-3) snagged the past two. No. 6 Oakton at Madison, Tomorrow, 6:30: Rematch of last year's Northern Region final, won by Madison, 2-0. The week doesn't get any easier for the Warhawks (9-2), who will host Langley -- 4-0 winners over Madison last month -- on Friday.

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Junior catcher Malorie Weller led off the inning with a single to right field to bring up the top of the Vikings' powerful lineup. Senior All-Met shortstop Jennifer Everhart (Radford University) nearly ended the game with a hard-hit shot that almost cleared the left field fence. Instead, the double off the chain-link fence put runners on second and third with no outs.

That's when Spicer made the call.

"The funniest thing is that we had practiced the squeeze the day before for defensive purposes because I thought they might try to do it to us," Spicer said. "But with two runners on, I figured even if we were thrown out at home we'd still have a runner on third, so what better time?"

Senior All-Met center fielder Alyson Moler took the suicide squeeze sign and laid down a beautiful bunt, and Weller took off as soon as the pitch was delivered, sliding under the tag at home for the 3-2 victory to keep No. 1 Loudoun Valley perfect at 10-0 overall and 5-0 in the district. Stone Bridge fell to 6-2 overall and 2-2 in the league.

"It was like we had just won states or something the way we were all jumping up and down," said senior second baseman Jessica Everhart, who has signed with Virginia Tech. "But it was exciting."

It was also fitting for a team that has been dominant at the plate. Loudoun Valley brought back seven players who batted .400 or better on last year's 23-4 team that lost in the state semifinals to eventual Virginia AA champion Turner Ashby. This season, the Vikings have outscored their opponents, 149-10.

Most of this year's team were also members of the Vikings' 2003 squad that finished 22-2-1 and won the Virginia AA title.

"As a whole, we're hitting even better now than we did when we won states two years ago," Jennifer Everhart said. "Everyone is hitting, all the way through the lineup. And that's tough to beat."

-- Angela Watts

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