For a year, the Hamilton softball team had 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.
Well, the Emerald Knights got that revenge, pounding the Cougars 11-2 Saturday at Hopkins Road Park in Liverpool by unleashing all kinds of run production to overcome an early 2-0 deficit.
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.
It was Stockbridge getting to Rogers for single runs in the first two innings, though Rogers struck out the side on both occasions. Meriah Beauvais tripled in the first and came home on a passed ball as, in the second, Mandy Beauvais
singled, moved to third when Hamilton could not execute a rundown, and raced home when Rogers uncorked a wild
But the game's biggest shot came in the bottom of the second. A Stockbridge error had put Sara Whyatt one base when, with one out, Kelby Watkins stepped up. She promptly jumped on an Usbourne pitch and drilled it over the left-field fence for a game-tying two-run home run, the first of her career.
An inning later, Hamilton went ahead for good, aided by two walks and three Stockbridge errors as it scored three times. Five more runs would follow in the bottom of the fourth, the first two scoring on wild pitches after Katie Weeks doubled. Watkins also doubled, while Whyatt and Jess Welsch also drove in runs.
Once the Emerald Knights had that lead, Rogers proved unstoppable. She held the Cougars to two hits overall, finishing with 14 strikeouts against just two walks.