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Oneida tops Cazenovia in softball opener

Some of the massive winter snows had not melted, and cold temperatures were still the norm. Still, it was time for the area high school softball season to get underway.

And it started in exciting fashion as Oneida and Cazenovia, two standout teams from 2010, battled through eight innings Wednesday afternoon before the Indians edged past the Lakers 2-1.

Defending both the Tri-Valley League and Section III Class A titles, Oneida, 19-5 a season ago, knew that Cazenovia, who returns every starter from an 18-4 side that reached the sectional Class B final before falling to South Jefferson, would provide a severe opening challenge.

Not only that, but the two pitchers - Oneida's Maria Rocco and Cazenovia's Nicole Chiarello - had a little more room to spin their magic, as the pitcher's circle was moved three feet back. It's now a 33-foot toss from the circle to home plate, as opposed to 30 feet in previous years.

Combine the new distance with the chilly conditions, and it was little surprise that, for seven innings, Rocco and Chiarello controlled the contest, neither allowing a run. The defenses were sharp, too, both sides throwing out possible go-ahead runs at home during regulation.

In the top of the eighth, the Lakers broke the 0-0 deadlock. Abby Eschen singled, her second hit of the game, and then Belle Hoagland doubled Eschen home before Rocco, with her 10th strikeout of the game, escaped further trouble.

Now needing a run, the Indians did better in the bottom of the eighth. Jamie Delgenio led off with a single, and an error on Rocco's sacrifice bunt allowed two runners to be in scoring position. When Jenna Didio singled and the ball was juggled in the outfield, Delgenio and Rocco both scored to win it.

That was not the only opener on Wednesday afternoon. Canastota, a long-time power, hit the field for the first time in 2011 Wednesday and needed lots of power at the plate to beat Herkimer 10-6.

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