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ESM, J-D softball both reach Class A semis

Four local high school softball teams would venture into the Section III playoffs, hoping for wins - and two of them, East Syracuse-Minoa and Jamesville-DeWitt, would make it into the Class A semifinal round.

ESM, the no. 7 seed, began on a strong note in last Thursday's opening round as freshman pitcher Danielle Ventrone threw an unusual no-hitter against no. 10 seed Camden in a 7-0 shutout of the Blue Devils.

Twice, the game was halted due to nearby lightning, so Ventrone had enough time to run over to the school and take part in a band concert, where she played a French horn solo.

Once that was done, Ventrone returned and completed her gem, striking out four Camden batters and getting superb defense behind her.

Offensively, this was a methodical effort, as ESM notched single runs in four consecutive innings, starting in the bottom of the second, and tacked on three more runs in the sixth through all the starts and stops. Ventrone had a hit and RBI at the plate as Jaime Gallardo and Maggie Kelly each had two hits, while Nicole Cassella earned a pair of RBIs.

In the Class A quarterfinal, ESM, without any concerts to worry about, faced no. 2 seed and defending champion Oneida. Ignoring the championship reputation of its opponent, the Spartans relied on Ventrone's pitching and a power burst from Laura Adams to eliminate the Indians 2-0.

For three innings, Ventrone and Oneida's Maria Rocco traded zeroes. Then, in the fourth, with Danielle Hobb on base after one of her two hits, Adams smashed Rocco's pitch well over the fence for a two-run home run.

Though it got nothing more, ESM didn't need more offense the way Ventrone was dealing. Going the route, Ventrone allowed six hits and two walks, but constantly got out of trouble and earned six strikeouts for her second straight playoff shutout.

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