Jun 02, 2011 Phil Blackwell Uncategorized
For a year, the Hamilton softball team has waited to make a return to the Section III Class D championship game, perhaps hoping that it could avenge its narrow 2-1 defeat to Stockbridge Valley in the 2010 title game.
That’s exactly how it has worked out, the Emerald Knights and Cougars set to clash Saturday as the top two seeds at Hopkins Road Park in Liverpool for the big sectional prize.
Hamilton, after a first-round bye, began its post-season quest with a 5-0 victory over no. 7 seed Belleville-Henderson in the Class D quarterfinals on May 28.
Eighth-grade pitcher Rebecca Rogers held Belleville-Henderson to two hits, and finally got some help when the Emerald Knights scored all of its runs in the fourth and fifth innings. Jessica Welsh managed two hits, while Kelby Watkins tripled and Sara Whyatt earned a double.
This led to Wednesday’s Class D semifinal at the Gillette Road complex in Cicero against no. 6 seed Poland, who had
upended no. 3 seed New York Mills to get to this point.
But the Emerald Knights made sure the Tornadoes did not pull off another surprise, winning by a convincing 10-2 margin by unleashing its bats from the first pitch onward.
Hamilton got single runs in the first and second innings before scoring twice in the bottom of the third, one of them Whyatt’s solo home run that rode the wind over the fence.
Poland threatened to close the gap in the top of the fifth, putting runners on second and third with no one out, but Rogers held them to a single run and watched as Hamilton used four runs in the bottom of the fifth and two more runs in the sixth to pull away.
Rogers, who held Poland to three hits while striking out eight, doubled home a run in that late flurry, with Kelby Watkins recording a two-run single.
Canastota, the no. 2 seed in Class B, reached Wednesday’s Class B semifinal at Gillette, but fell to no. 6 seed Solvay in a tight 4-3 decision.
Of course, the Raiders almost didn’t make it to the semifinals. In a long-delayed quarterfinal on Tuesday, no. 10 seed Marcellus dragged them through 11 innings before Canastota finally prevailed 3-2.
A pair of first-inning runs by the Mustangs held up for a while as Canastota trailed 2-0 going into the bottom of the sixth. But it tied things up when an error and wild pitch led to run-scoring singles from Jessica Patterelli and Alexis Havens.
From there, it turned into a stalemate through four more innings, Patterelli (who finished with 11 strikeouts) and the Mustangs’ Molly MacLachlan keeping it 1-1, even as the 10th inning brought the international tie-breaking rule of a runner placed at second to start the inning.
Then Canastota catcher Valerie Baer won it. First, she tagged Marcellus runner Jessie Manahan trying to score in the top of the 11th off a great throw from Ally Bernier. Then, with the winning run on third in the bottom of the 11th, Baer laid down a suicide squeeze bunt, catching the Mustangs off guard as Sam McCarthy dashed home with the decisive run.
All that work took a toll, which carried over into the semifinal against Solvay 24 hours later. Amid hard winds at Gillette (gusting near 40 miles per hour), Solvay tagged Patterelli for a run in the second and three more runs in the third, the key blow being Kiersten DiBello’s double.
Canastota roared back, pulling within one with a three-run rally in the bottom of the fourth as Patterelli, Havens and Baer scored the runs, and it would get two more chances to pull even against Solvay pitcher Julie Gardner.
Patterelli and Havens both reached base in the sixth, but Gardner pulled out of it. Then, in the seventh, a Solvay error put Kaleigh Coon on first, and Coon went to second on Jesse Boswell’s sacrifice bunt.
Kelsey Lawrence’s infield hit put the winning run on base. Needing a hit to at least tie the game, Ally Bernier fought Gardner hard before striking out, leaving it up to McCarthy, who hit it hard – but grounded out to end the game and Canastota’s season.
With the Cougars’ long-time pitcher, Cheyenne Bumpus, who no-hit Hamilton in that 2010 final, now graduated, Stockbridge turned to sophomore Justuss Usborne to oppose Rebecca Rogers, an eighth-grader already pitching in her second sectional final.