May 29, 2014 Phil Blackwell Uncategorized
Even as it roared to a 17-3 mark and another top seed in the Section III Class A playoffs, the Jamesville-DeWitt softball team had endured all kinds of close calls, getting by on solid defense and the terrific pitching of Kerri Keeler.
But the Red Rams’ fortunes would change at the worst time possible.
One big swing by New Hartford’s Dana Del Genio, delivering the big hit that had proven elusive for J-D all game long, turned things around in last Wednesday’s Class A semifinal at the Gillette Road complex, the no. 4 seed Spartans going on to beat the defending sectional champion Rams 3-1.
While that was going on, East Syracuse-Minoa saw its season end in the other Class A sectional semifinal as the no. 3 seed Spartans fell to no. 2 seed Oneida, also in a 3-1 decision.
Of the two, J-D’s exit was more shocking, in that it had grown accustomed to long post-season runs and earning sectional championships. This spring had proved a stressful one, though, as the Rams had won seven of its 17 games by two runs or less.
This put a lot of pressure on Keeler, and now she was up against a New Hartford lineup that was known for its power, having hit 14 home runs during the season, including six by Emily Acquaviva and five by Del Genio.
The game followed the familiar J-D pattern of the spring. Keeler and Spartans pitcher Cassie Keady traded scoreless frames until the top of the third, when Emily Clapper’s RBI single put the Rams in front 1-0.
In the next two innings, J-D had chances to add to that lead, but aided by stellar defense (including a double play), the Spartans kept it 1-0, while still waiting for its chance to break through against Keeler.
Then, in the top of the sixth, Acquaviva reached base, and Del Genio stepped to the plate. Timing an inside fastball just right, Del Genio crushed it over the left-field fence, and just like that, the Spartans had a 2-1 lead.
Stunned by this, Keeler gave up another run on Stephanie Smith’s single, and now it was J-D in catch-up mode. In the bottom of the seventh, the Rams put the tying runs on base, but fell victim to another double play that ended the game – and J-D’s season.
ESM’s exit was a bit less dramatic, but just as disappointing, as it could not follow the no-hitter that pitcher Danielle Ventrone threw in the Spartans’ Class quarterfinal win over Mexico on May 24, victimized by timely hits by Oneida’s Danielle Skibitski.
In the bottom of the first, it was Skibitski’s single that scored the Indians’ first run. Ventrone escaped further damaged and did not allow a run through the fourth inning, but it remained 1-0 as ESM got two runners on base in the fourth and fifth innings, but could not produce a run on either occasion.
With two on and two out in the bottom of the fifth, Chesebro hit a sinking line drive into center, and both runners scored, the Indians little realizing how valuable those runs would end up.
That’s because, in the top of the sixth, Brittany Evans tagged Chesebro for a solo home run. From there, though, the Indians shut the door, overcoming a Spartans hit in the seventh as Chesebro recorded the final out and sent Oneida to Monday’s sectional final against New Hartford.