Cicero To repeat as Section III Class A champions, the Jamesville-DeWitt softball team will need to beat the same opponent, Oneida, that it conquered a season ago en route to a state finals appearance.
The Red Rams and Indians get together Saturday at 2 p.m. at Syracuse University's diamond, with J-D entering the final as the no. 2 seed and Oneida holding the top seed.
This rematch was set up by Thursday’s semifinal games at the Gillette Road complex in Cicero, where the Red Rams beat no. 3 seed East Syracuse-Minoa for the third time this spring in a 4-2 decision.
Looking to avenge 6-1 and 7-1 defeats during the regular season, ESM got itself in trouble in the bottom of the first when a throwing error put Maggie Austin on second base, and Alexis Cantor singled her home.
Then J-D made it 2-0 in the second, manufacturing another run through an infield hit, two groundouts and a wild pitch. Given the way Rams pitcher Kerri Keeler had performed against ESM in those two previous meetings (27 total strikeouts), that two-run margin looked daunting.
But in the top of the fourth, the Spartans fought back. Following a pair of singles from Danielle Ventrone and Nikki Casella, Courtney Legare delivered an RBI double that scored Ventrone, and Rachael Gocklin’s single brought Casella home, tying it, 2-2.
Shaking this off, J-D quickly regained the lead in the bottom of the fourth as Maddy Devereaux’s single drove home the go-ahead run, and the Rams added an insurance run in the fifth.
This time, Keeler made that two-run lead stick, aided by superb defense. Paige Sherling, inserted into right field, made a tremendous over-the-shoulder catch in the top of the sixth that led to a double play and kept ESM from catching up.
Keeler finished it off from there, finishing with 10 strikeouts against five hits allowed, two each to Ventrone and Gocklin. Devereaux and Ashley Thompson led J-D with two hits apiece. Ventrone took the loss as the Spartans ended with a 12-8 record, with nearly half the defeats coming to J-D.
Right after that, Oneida defeated Fulton, 8-3, in the other semifinal, blowing an early 3-0 lead, but regaining control in the game's latter stages and setting up yet another final between the Indians and J-D.