Not so long ago, the Jamesville-DeWitt softball team appearing in a Section III championship game was a routine affair, with the Red Rams piling up high honors and nearly earning a pair of state titles, too.
But when the Red Rams take on defending champion Oneida in Saturday's Class A final at the Gillette Road complex in Cicero, it did so as an unlikely guest, trying to complete a clean sweep of the top three seeds in the Class A bracket.
Having already ousted no. 3 seed New Hartford 1-0 in the quarterfinals, J-D met no. 2 seed Homer in last Wednesday night's semifinal at Hopkins Road Park and, with Jenn Keeler again in a starring role, stunned the Trojans 4-3.
The Rams did have some confidence going into this game, having beaten Homer 6-4 back on April 22, even though the Trojans romped to a 17-1 win in the rematch on May 18.
For this third encounter, the Rams would strike first, getting two runs in the top of the second inning. Homer answered with a run in the third, then used Katie Sinclair's two-run home run in the bottom of the fifth to move in front 3-2.
Still, the Rams stayed cool, tying it in the sixth, then putting Mary Young on base in the top of the seventh. Keeler, perhaps making up for the round-tripper allowed two innings earlier, singled down the line to score Young, then blanked the Trojans in the bottom of the seventh to win it.
Against Homer's high-powered lineup, Keeler gave up just four hits. The Trojans coaxed seven walks, but Keeler made a series of escapes with nine total strikeouts.
Now J-D meets Oneida, the top seed, who has not enjoyed a smooth ride to the finals, having rallied past Whitesboro 4-3 in the quarterfinals and fended off Chittenango's late comeback to prevail 8-6 in the semifinals.