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.