Bobcats are back

Published 1:32 am Tuesday, April 15, 2003

By Staff
Not much has changed at Brandywine.
Despite the loss of three All-State players, the Brandywine softball team still looks to be the favorite among local teams to make a bid at an extended run in the state playoffs.
A convincing sweep of River Valley in a Lakeland Conference doubleheader Monday afternoon in Niles improved the Bobcats' record to 6-1.
Brandywine is ranked No. 4 in Division 3 and has already had its share of top-notch competition to deal with.
The Bobcats won two games last week at South Bend (Ind.) Clay High School when they triumphed over Northridge (Ind.) and the host Colonials.
Brandywine then went south of the state border again Saturday to play in the Penn Invitational. The Bobcats lost their first game of the tournament to Lafayette Jefferson but came back to gain victories over the host Kingsmen and Merrillville to win the tournament title.
Junior pitcher Nicki McGowen, a two-time All-State selection, is joined by three other All-State players on this year's squad. Senior centerfielder Jessica Keeton, senior shortstop Nakisha Washington and senior second baseman Lauren Heyn all earned statewide honors last season.
So, while very few teams can say they lost three All-State players, even fewer can say they return four All-State players.
As has been the case the last couple years during Brandywine's dominant regular seasons and state title run in 2000, strong hitting and aggressive baserunning fuel the Bobcats.
Junior catcher Michelle Shoemaker blasted a home run over the left field fence in the first inning of Monday's matchup with River Valley. The Bobcats scored 12 runs in the same inning to put the game away early.
McGowen's pitching is also a key to Brandywine's game. She moves the ball around well, throws fairly hard and has a stingy defense behind her that smothers anything off the bat.
Granted, Brandywine coach Jim Myers has his work cut out for him if he hopes to win his second state title in three years, but his Bobcats are off to a good start. In fact, they're off to their best start in three years.
Winning a state title takes a lot of luck, some breaks going your way and, most importantly, a solid team.
Brandywine appears to already have one of those three.
Dan Weiss is sports editor of the Niles Daily Star. He can be reached at