Carroll's girls softball fans will like this column a lot more than last Wednesday's article on that subject.

To refresh the memories of those who put that article in the bottom of their kitty box or some recycling bin, last Wednesday's post-mortem described the previous weekend's National Softball Association state championships, in whichHoward County teams won all four age brackets.

This weekend, though, Carroll teams retaliated by taking three titles at the Amateur Softball Association's state girls slow-pitch championships, knocking off Howard teams in two championship games in the process.

Sunday at the Jaycees Park in Westminster, Freedom, Westminster Rockets and Hampstead Heat won their respective championshipgames in the 16-and-under, 14-and-under and 12-and-under brackets.

In addition to championship trophies, each received a berth in an ASA national championship tournament.

Perry Hall of Baltimore County topped Howard County to win the 10-and-under championships played in Catonsville, Baltimore County, although tournament berths weren't awarded in that bracket.

ASA also conducted its state fast-pitch championships at the Carroll County Sports Complex this past weekend, but no Carroll teams played.

ASA Maryland State Junior Olympic Commissioner Mike Schaefer, who ran the tournament, said the association's state girls softball championships will be played in Westminster again next year.

But as for this year's event, Hampstead Heat coach Jim McMahon pretty much summed up the bottom line by saying, "We tookit all away from Howard County for a change."

His 12-and-under team had a big hand in that.

After winning Saturday's first two games, Hampstead topped the Howard County Hurricanes, which had beaten the Carroll squad twice in winning the NSA tournament last weekend, 12-5.

"That was our biggest game.Our girls really wanted Howard County," McMahon said.

But Sunday morning saw his team drop a 4-1 game to Perry Hall.

"We were flat," he said, adding that the team was also overconfident after Saturday's big win.

But the Heat warmed toits task by topping Catonsville, 6-3, and winning a rematch with Perry Hall, 6-4, to draw even in the double-elimination affair. It blew out Perry Hall, 14-5, in Sunday's finale.

"Coming back that way really showed the character of our team. They wanted to win the states and go to the nationals," McMahon said.

He now looks to Hurst, Texas, where the Heat hopes to play in the ASA 12-and-under nationals July 31-Aug. 4.

"But we have to raise a lot of money," he said.

So will the Westminster Rockets, who can go to Coon Rapids, Minn., forthe ASA 14-and-under nationals Aug. 1-4.

Rocket coach John McLainsaid his team's key game in the ASA tourney also came against its tormentors of last weekend -- the Howard County Terminators, who won NSA's 14-and-under title.

The crucial game, played Saturday, saw Westminster shoot to a 10-2 lead after only two innings and cruise to a 15-5 win.

"After getting beaten twice last week, the girls didn't think they could beat (the Terminators). But we got on them early andgot more confident as the game went

on," McLain said.

Sunday, Westminster beat Perry Hall in a best-of-three series, the clincher coming in the final game, 7-4.

Asked to name the major difference between this week and last, McLain said simply, "We hit."

Unlike the others, Freedom 16-and-under coach John Smith didn't suffer Howard's wrath in last weekend's NSA states -- too many players were on vacation to enter the team.

But in recent years, Freedom has come out on the short end in other tourneys against Howard teams.

"We beat everybody but them. They always send us home," he said.

But that was then.

Freedom pitcher Sandy Lewis blanked both Union Bridge andthe previous weekend's champion Howard County Hawks in the first twogames.

Then the offense carried the load in Sunday's 14-10 victory in the finale with the Hawks.

In that championship game, Freedomtrailed, 5-1, after two innings and 8-7 in the sixth. But it exploded for seven runs in the bottom of the sixth to send the Hawks packing.

To Smith, in his first year as Freedom head coach after four years as an assistant, the timing couldn't have been better.

"It was fantastic," he said.

He said defense will be the key to success atthe 16-and-under nationals at Tifton, Ga., Aug. 8-11.

"If you hold a team to four or five runs, you always have a chance to win," Smith said.

Teams finishing in the first four runner-up positions in the states were awarded berths in their respective age group's ASA Central Atlantic Regional Tournament.

The Hampstead Panthers, fourth among 16-and-under, along with Silver Run and Union Bridge, who tied for fifth, won slots in the 16-and-under regional in Columbia July 13-14.

The Hampstead Hammers, fourth among 14-and-under, will go to Columbia that weekend for the 14-and-under regional.*

The Winfieldyouth baseball program closed out its season Saturday at Stem Field with its all-star games, a championship game in its junior division and softball games among its coaches and managers.

The junior finale saw the regular season's first place Dodgers prevail again.

The team roared to an 8-0 lead after five innings and cruised past the Twins, who had placed second during the regular season, 8-3.

Mike Beccio was the winning pitcher for the Dodgers.

In the minor league all-star game, a team composed of players from the A's, Reds, Giants,and Yankees won a high-scoring affair, 17-13, over the Pirates, Orioles, Twins and Dodgers.

The majors' all-star contest saw players from the Reds, Twins, and Yankees blank a team from the Pirates, Dodgers and Orioles, 15-0.

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