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Published: May 19, 2009 11:43 pm   

HS SOFTBALL: Lady Jacks dump slumping GI

By Nate Beutel
Niagara Gazette

NORTH TONAWANDA — Kim Garbus has been platooning at several positions this spring. Perhaps Tuesday she proved she deserves an everyday spot in the lineup.

The junior ripped a pinch hit three-run triple in the bottom of the sixth inning to lift North Tonawanda to a 5-1 Niagara Frontier League win over visiting Grand Island at Belbas Fields. NT is now 8-4 and tied for second place with today’s opponent, Kenmore West.

“It just flew off the bat,” Garbus said with a smile. “When I got up there, I told myself I needed to hit it. I needed to prove myself.”

Lady Jacks coach T.K. Murphy, the state’s all-time winningest coach, was happy that Garbus’ hard work finally paid off.

“We’ve been trying to work her in, but we just haven’t been able to,” he said. “She hasn’t stopped working though. She’s been ripping the ball in practice and when (assistant coach) Larry (Lash) said let’s give her a shot, I figured why not. And she did awesome. I’m proud of her.”

Garbus’ hit was a part of a five-run inning that broke open a scoreless game. Natalie Hils started the inning with a single to right field off GI right-hander Sam Tilkins. Caitlin Kirbis then roped a ball to GI shortstop Emily Thompson, who attempted to tag Hils but lost the ball in the process, allowing both runners to be safe.

“That’s a real tough play, especially for Emily, who was playing her first game at shortstop,” Vikings coach Pat Lester said.

Lauren Lipinoga then reached on a bunt to load the bases. Tilkins issued a free pass to Brittany Booth to force in the game’s first run before allowing Garbus’ blast. Joanna Fretthold added an RBI single to score Garbus and make it 5-0 heading to the seventh.

Christie Borden led off the top half of the seventh with a double and came in when Thompson singled to get GI on the board. NT hurler Allie Gibson then got Kasey Sumner to ground out and end the game. Gibson finished with a five-hitter, six strikeouts and only one walk.

“She did great,” Murphy said of Gibson. “I felt bad for her because the defense wasn’t backing her up early… but she hung in there the whole way.”

For the suddenly-slumping Vikings, who dropped to 5-7 in the league, it was another tough one to swallow.

“We’ve got to get our focus and confidence back,” Lester said of his team. “I’m proud of the way we played and battled, but we need to turn it around quickly.”

Contact reporter Nate Beutel at 282-2311, ext. 2262.