Jun 02, 2013 Phil Blackwell Uncategorized
Strong pitching, a well-timed power surge and near-perfect defense all came together for the Jamesville-DeWitt softball team – and the end result is a second consecutive Section III Class A championship.
Kerri Keeler tossed a two-hit shutout and also hit a solo home run in the fourth inning to put her team on the board as the Red Rams defeated top seed Oneida 4-0 in Saturday’s Class A final at Syracuse University.
It’s J-D’s eighth sectional title in head coach Phil DeAugustine’s 16-year tenure. He said every title is tough to attain, and this one was no different.
“It’s just as hard every year,” he said. “At no point could we coast.”
But at least the Rams could relax a bit more with Keeler in the pitcher’s circle. Just as she had done in the 2012 sectional final (a 5-0 J-D victory over Oneida), Keeler kept the Indians in check, striking out six.
“I went into the game knowing I had to pitch my best, and I did,” said Keeler.
It was also Keeler breaking a 0-0 deadlock in the top of the fourth. To that point, Oneida pitcher Ashley Marshall had surrendered a two-out walk to Alexis Cantor in the first and two-out singles to Erika Siegel and Maggie Austin in the next two innings, but escaped each time.
Keeler made sure that Marshall did not escape the fourth. Leading off, she took what she described as a high and inside offering and turned on it, belting it over the left-center field fence to give J-D a 1-0 lead.
With two outs in the fourth, and Emily Clapper on second, Alyssa Robens offered another blast, drilling a fastball well over the left-field fence, a two-run shot that provided the Rams with a three-run cushion.
Though Ally Simons replaced Marshall in the fifth inning and blanked J-D the rest of the way, the Rams didn’t need any more runs, with Keeler and the defense in top form.
DeAugustine said his team could not count on Keeler to be overpowering, so they had to help her out by making routine plays and keeping the ball down.
They did, and Keeler had particular praise for infielders Ashley Thompson and Maddy Devereaux for the way they handled it every time the Indians put the ball in play.
And it was a defensive gem that helped seal the title. When Oneida had Emily LaSalle on first in the bottom of the seventh and nobody out, Paige Sherling threw out Jenny Sgarlata on what looked like a single to right field. From first, Robens fired to Devereaux, who tagged out LaSalle for an unusual 9-3-5 double play.
Then Keeler coaxed a groundout to end the game. DeAugustine said that he and the coaching staff ask a lot from her, and on this day, she justified their expectations.
“We’re tough on Kerri,” he said. “We saw the excellence she could bring. When she’s on, she’s real tough.”
On Monday, J-D meets Section II champion Troy in the Class A regional playoffs at the Gillette Road complex in Cicero. Game time is 5 p.m.