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P.O. Athletes of the Week, April 17-22



Sammie Bender, Chambersburg

"Before I hit that home run (against Mifflin County) I was in a full count and it was really nerve wracking," Bender said. "I just kept telling myself I had to get the barrel on the ball and make something happen. It was a huge advantage for my team to get out of that hole."

Sport: Softball

Position: First base, pitcher

Grade: Senior

Parents: Candace and Mark Bender

Interests: Bender was a first-year swimmer for the Chambersburg swim team and is a member of the Frederick Heartbreakers travel softball team.

Surprising fact: The first game she ever pitched was a no-hitter in sixth grade.

Favorite team: South Carolina baseball

Coach Chris Skultety: "Obviously pitching a no-hitter for us is fabulous, but when she hit that two-run home run (against Mifflin County) coming off a losing streak - that was what we needed. It was a big spark to our season and was a big sigh of relief. We know what she's capable of and she's been working really hard this season working on some off-speed pitches."

Statistics: Last week Bender hit a much-needed two-run home run in a big win over Mifflin County to end a three-game losing streak ... She also pitched a near-perfect game against Red Land in a 12-0 win. She walked one batter and struck out three.

-- By Lindsey Smith

Josh Booth, McConnellsburg

"We're all pretty excited about what we're doing," Booth said about his 4x400 team of Chance Hawbaker, Philip Strait and Zac DeShong. "We knew we were definitely above average, but we didn't think we'd be undefeated this far. That would be exciting to do that and the hurdles at states."

Sport: Track & field

Events: 110 and 300 hurdles, sprints

Grade: Junior

Parents: Teresa and Patrick Booth

Interests: Booth plays soccer for the Spartans and says he is really into computers.

Surprising fact: Before he races, Booth said, "I have to wash my hands."

Coach Zach Mason: "Josh has been pushing pretty hard to break some records, and we've put him in some other events (200, open 400 and 800) to push him, too. In the hurdles he really focuses on counting his steps between hurdles. In the 4x400, they have done a best of 3:35 and want to break the school record of 3:29.49."

Statistics: In Saturday's Jack Roddick Invitational at Shippensburg U., Booth took third in the 110 hurdles (16.06), won the 300 hurdles (40.45) and anchored the Spartans' first-place 4x400 relay team, which had a time of 3:36.79 ... His time of 39.5 in the 300 on April. 11 broke his own school record, and his best 110 time is 15.5.

-- By Ed Gotwals