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Published: 5/19/2006

Kulakowski, Temple lead Whitmer to regional berth

BY JOHN WAGNER
BLADE SPORTS WRITER
Whitmer players surround Amanda Temple after the Panthers won the Division I district championship yesterday. Whitmer players surround Amanda Temple after the Panthers won the Division I district championship yesterday.
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Whitmer's Amanda Temple was given a second chance to be the hero in the Division I district softball championship yesterday.

She took advantage of the opportunity, smacking a two-out, two-run single that gave the Panthers a 2-1 victory over Notre Dame at Rolf Park.

"I was shaking - I was really nervous," Temple said when asked about her game-winning at-bat. "But I went up there with a lot of confidence, and that helped a lot."

The Panthers, now 13-14 on the season, advance to the regional semifinals in Clyde next Thursday, while Notre Dame fell to 21-7.

Temple had missed out on a chance to be the hero in the third inning when, with two outs and a runner on third, the Eagles intentionally walked Melissa Gorsuch to face her. Notre Dame pitcher Kelsey Brickman struck out Temple in that situation, one of 10 whiffs for Brickman on the day.

So with Panthers on second and third and two outs in the fifth, Notre Dame coach Jordan Stevens again elected to intentionally walk Gorsuch to face Temple. This time Temple lined a single to left that scored Brooke Zaleski and Mandi Fought.

"We knew coming in that Melissa is a fantastic hitter - she drove everything we pitched to her in our last game," Stevens said. "We knew we were not going to pitch to her. The situation didn't matter, we were not going to pitch to her.

"We were going to make somebody else beat us. So congratulations to Temple - she came through."

Whitmer coach Mark Figliomeni said he wasn't surprised that Temple was able to make the Eagles pay.

"Amanda Temple is an exceptional athlete, and she has improved her hitting 100 percent over the course of the season," he said. "She's our fourth hitter for a reason. She's gotten big runs for us in the past, and she got some big runs here."

Those two runs were enough for Panthers pitcher Kendall Kulakowski, who pitched out of jams in the first and third innings before surrendering a fourth-inning run that scored on a two-out error. That inning could have been bigger: Beth Clay lined a ball just foul down the left-field line before Kulakowski struck her out with runners on second and third.

"We didn't stay aggressive at all," Stevens said. "I think we had a mental block there, where we got caught in the moment and didn't stay aggressive at the plate.

"I thought we took a lot of good swings, but with runners on base we watched [good] pitches go by and didn't stay aggressive."

Kulakowski fanned seven and stranded seven baserunners, including five in scoring position.

"[Kendall] is like hot food - my stomach can't handle it sometimes," Figliomeni said. "She oftentimes puts us in positions that make it difficult on my stomach. But time in and time out she has gotten herself out of trouble."

Contact John Wagner at:

wagner@theblade.com

or 419-724-6481.



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