West Springfield catcher Gary Butterworth picked the right time to get hot and Coach Ron Tugwell couldn't be more pleased.

"Gary is hot as a firecracker," said Tugwell, in his 17th year as head coach of the Spartans. "We had not been hitting up to my expectations but lately everyone, especially Butterworth, has been hitting the ball. In his last five games, he has 12 hits in 17 at-bats, including two doubles, a triple and two homers, and raised his batting average to .430. But eight of the nine starters are over .300 now.

"Plus our pitching and defense has been solid. If we're getting the good pitching, we can afford an error or a walk. What we have done is avoid the big inning. Mark Simon got his 10th win the other night and Bill Martz has come on strong the second half of the season. Bill will pitch {tonight} and hopefully, we can score a number of runs for him. That really takes a lot of pressure off the pitchers."

Tugwell is hoping everything falls in place one more time as his Spartans (20-5) take on Lafayette (17-5) in a Virginia AAA state semifinal baseball game tonight at Highland Springs High School at 6.

Defending state champion W.T. Woodson (21-4) will face Freeman (19-5) in the second game of the doubleheader at 8:30.

The winners will play for the championship Saturday at Highland Springs at 2.

W.T. Woodson got a splendid effort from T.J. Jones and Doug Newstrom, whose three-hitter beat Heritage, 2-1, in a quarterfinal game Wednesday. Newstrom, who was shelled for 10 runs in a stunning 12-7 loss to West Springfield in the Northern Region title game, relieved Jones and struck out the side in the sixth. The All-Met slightly sprained his ankle and was replaced in the last inning by Jones, who had stayed in the game as third baseman.

West Springfield has scored 12 runs in each of its last three games, including a 12-1 rout of GW-Danville in a state quarterfinal game. The victory enabled the Spartans to equal the school record for victories (20) but, more importantly, advance to the semifinals tonight for the third time in the school's history.

"Maybe 12 is our lucky number," Tugwell said. "We have never won a state title and it would be nice to face Woodson again for the state championship. We'd love to see it and I know they would love to see us."

Broad Run (15-5), participating in the state playoffs for the first time, advanced to one Virginia AA semifinal against Rustburg (23-2) tonight at Harrisonburg Municipal Field at 6. Louisa (19-2-1) will meet Virginia (17-6) in the other semifinal at 8:30.

The winners will play for the championship at the Municipal Field Saturday at 2.

All-Met pitcher Scott Schultz yielded four hits and struck out 15 in beating York, 4-0, in a quarterfinal Wednesday night. He is 10-0 with an ERA of 0.47.

In the Virginia state AAA softball semifinals tonight at 7 at Henrico Complex in Richmond, Northern Region champion Chantilly (18-3) will face Varina (18-5), and Lee-Davis (20-4) will take on Oakton (20-5). The winners will meet for the crown there Saturday at 3.

Chantilly had no problems with quarterfinal rival Halifax as Scarlett Bowen held the Comets to three hits and struck out six in a 9-1 victory. Oakton needed an unearned run in the fourth inning to edge Potomac, 3-2, to earn the other berth.

In the state AA semifinals at Harrisonburg Municipal Field at 7, Park View (17-5) will take on Salem (19-5), and Fort Defiance (19-5) will play Lord Botetourt (16-4). The winners will play there Saturday at 1.

Lake Braddock's David Spencer had two key goals in a 7-5 decision over W.T. Woodson in a Virginia AAA Northern Region semifinal lacrosse match. Langley defeated Fairfax, 11-7, in the other semifinal and will meet Lake Braddock for the championship tonight at Lake Braddock at 7:30.