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April 9, 2011

 

Trojans grab 1st win nipping CHS

By TOM VARTANIAN
Staff Writer

Homer Central played some long ball, used clutch defense and got an effective outing from senior pitcher Alyssa Morgan in her second start of the season to knock off an old rival on Friday.
Behind two home runs and a triple, plus Morgan’s three-hit pitching, the Trojans opened the home portion of the 2011 softball campaign with a 5-3 OHSL Freedom Division victory over neighboring Cortland High.
The Trojans are now 1-1 in league and overall play, while this visit to the Homer Junior High diamond was the season opener for the Purple Tigers.
“It’s been tough going from a more experienced team like we had the last two years to a younger team,” hurler Morgan said of getting that first win. “There was some added pressure pitching at home for the first time this year and Cortland being our rival. We’ll find our rhythm when we finally get a lot of field time. Everyone will get more comfortable in their positions and it should really help us out.”
Morgan has to get comfortable with a change in the high school rules, too, as the pitching rubber has been moved back to 43 feet from 40 feet this season.
“It is an advantage to the batters this year,” she said of the adjustment. “It has affected the tempo of the game a little, but working in the gym has certainly helped me moving back three more feet. It really hasn’t bothered me.”
After surrendering a two-out single to Jenna Gregory and then hitting Cortland catcher Taylor Huenink with a pitch, Morgan got her second strikeout of the inning to close out the top of the first inning.
Homer took a 2-0 lead in the bottom of the inning when Morgan helped her own cause with a lead-off home run into right-centerfield. Jessica Parmiter (2-for-4) followed with a triple, but she was thrown out at home plate trying to score soon after. Purple Tiger third base person Carina Clayton made the initial throw to first base on Carissa Cornwell’s grounder, but Kelsey Wetherell quickly came off the base before the throw reached her and fired the ball to Huenink who tagged out Parmiter.
Cornwell went to second on the throw home and later scored on a throwing error that allowed Hannah Gallagher to reach first base.
CORTLAND WENT down 1-2-3 in the top of the second, but tied the game in the top of the third when Morgan had a bout of wildness because of a developing blister on her finger. Clayton reached on a fielding error by Morgan and stole second. Sarah Hartnett singled to put runners at the corners. Hartnett then stole second. Wetherell hit a grounder to second and Homer turned a similar defensive play as Cortland did — Gallagher to Taryn Heath to Sinclair at the plate — to nail Clayton trying to score.
Morgan then unleashed three wild pitches that would allow Hartnett and Wetherell to score and knot the score at 2-2. She closed out the inning with a strikeout and Cheyenne Gaffney got a line drive in left field for the third out.
The Trojans answered right back.
Parmiter and Sinclair (2-for-4) started the bottom of the third with back-to-back singles and a double steal to put runners at second and third. An error of Gallagher’s one-out ball-in-play allowed Parmiter to score. Sinclair would score on the next play when another throwing error.
The Purple Tigers threatened by getting one runner to third in the fourth, but did not score. It was a different story in the fifth. Clayton reached base on a throwing error and Zakarra Butts followed with a single to right field to put runners at the corners. Clayton beat the throw to third, but jammed her ankle at the same time and came out of the game. Maria Speranza came in as the replacement.
After a walk to Wetherell loaded the bases, Gregory hit a grounder to third, Jessica Mitchell stepped on third for the force out, but her throw to the plate was late and Speranza scored to make the score 4-3. Huenink then hit a grounder to Parimiter at shortstop. The junior made a heads-up play and tagged out Butts coming from second base for the second out of the inning.
MORGAN GOT A strikeout to end the biggest scoring threat the Purple Tigers had in the game.
Homer got a big insurance run in the bottom of the fifth when Sinclair hit a towering home run to deep right field and easily circled the bases to give the Trojans a 5-3 lead. The Purple Tigers made the defensive plays needed to prevent any more runners in the fifth or sixth innings.
Cortland tried one more time in the sixth to put runs on the board, but the Trojan defense made the plays this time. Stevie Nemecek reached safely on an error to lead-off the inning and was at second base because of the errant throw. She moved to third on a ground-out by Alyssa Cafararo. Hannah Franceschelli laid time a nice sacrifice bunt, but Morgan got to the ball and looked towards first base. Nemecek broke for the plate and Morgan quickly turned and ran at the runner who froze. Nemecek took a step back towards third and Morgan threw the ball to Parmiter to start the rundown.
Nemecek then tried to score, but Parmiter made a clean throw to Sinclair who tagged the runner out. Morgan struck out the next batter to end the inning and retired the Purple Tigers in order in the top of the seventh to end the game.
Morgan finished the game with eight strikeouts.
“We needed to get the nerves out after that first inning,” Cortland coach Lara Almansberger said. “I just haven’t had a lot of time to work with my pitchers on what pitches to throw at what time in a game situation yet. We started getting that done today with Liz (Torti) pitching and Taylor catching. That worked out well as the game went along.”
Cortland will will look to play its home opener Monday when East Syracuse-Minoa comes to Meldrim Field for a 4:45 contest. Homer will return to action Monday with a non-league home game against Fulton behind the junior high school at 4:30 p.m.

 

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