May 18, 2013
CHS trims Trojans in season finale
There was nothing more than pride on the line as Cortland High played host to Homer Central in the OHSL Freedom American Division finale for both softball teams.
Purple Tiger senior Julia Babjack was one of five Cortland players taking to Meldrim Field one final time and she set the tone with a solo home run to right-centerfield in the bottom of the first inning to give the home team a 1-0 lead enroute to a 5-2 triumph over their rival.
Babjack finished the day 2-for-3 with two runs scored, one RBI and a stolen base for the 5-10 Purple Tigers.
“It was nice for us to come out with a victory against Homer today,” Babjack said. “I saw the ball really well and pulled the trigger when I needed to.
“We have a young team that is going to get a lot better down the road,” she added. “The team is going to keep getting better as the younger players get experience. I’ll be excited to come back and see them play next year.”
“Julia has set the tone for us all season,” Cortland coach Zac Darrow said of Babjack. “With her intensity and work ethic, the girls have stuck with it all season long. Our motto this year was stay tough, stay hungry. We had a lot of close games were runners in scoring position so it really hasn’t affected them. We took a lot from that close 2-1 loss to Jamesville-DeWitt earlier in the week.
“Annie Steve knows she does have to go out there and win a game for us,” he added about his junior pitcher. “She knows that her defense can do what it needs to do and that will make her successful. She is always around the zone and doesn’t miss too often that she gets hurt by it. She doesn’t give up a lot of long balls. The defense does play well behind her.”
STEVE SCATTERED seven Homer hits and she walked just one to go with five strikeouts. She pitched out of trouble often, including the very first inning.
Meagan Neuman led off the game with a single to left field for Homer. Molly Ulrich laid down a perfect sacrifice bunt that allowed Neuman to go all the way to third base while no one covered the base on the play. Steve got out of the inning as Kacie Hubbard fielded two grounders flawlessly at third and kept the runner from scoring and she recorded a strikeout.
Babjack came up in the bottom of the inning and ripped an 1-0 pitch with two outs to give her team the lead.
After leaving a runner stranded at second in the top of the second inning, the Trojans tied the game at 1-1 in the third. Anni Wynn led off with a double, but she was thrown out at third base for the second out of the inning when Steve field a one-hopper by Ulrich and caught Wynn behind second and third. Ulrich went to second on a wild pitch and scored on Alexis Settineri’s single to left. Settineri kept up her hot hitting, going 2-for-4 on the day.
“You really just want to hit the ball,” Settineri said. “I just put my mind to it and really started to swing through the ball. I think a lot of the hitting drills we did helped me too.”
The Purple Tigers put the game away in the bottom of the third. Raeanna Dunn beat the throw for an infield single to lead things off. Babjack followed with a sharp single to right field to put runners at the corners.
Hubbard grounded out, but got an RBI as Dunn scored from third and Babjack went to third after stealing second base earlier. Talia Cruz hit a grounder that allowed Babjack to score for a 3-1 cushion as the play at the plated was unsuccessful. Cady Walts hit a grounder by forced Cruz out at second, but Walts scored on a two-out double by Jessica Smith for the 4-1 advantage.
HOMER CUT THE deficit to 4-2 with some hustle and a little luck. Ulrich drew a two-out walk and stole second. Settineri singled to put runners at the corners. Settineri went to steal second and, as Ulrich bluffed coming home, Dunn overthrew Hubbard at third. As the ball sailed into left field, Ulrich raced across home plate. Steve ended the threat by getting the next Homer batter to ground out to Hubbard who made another strong throw to first to record the out.
Steve scored the final run of the game in the bottom of the fifth. She reached base on catcher’s interference and Hannah Whelan got to first after being hit by a Wynn oitch. Dunn grounded out, but both runners advanced one base.
The Trojan defense turned an inning-ending double play, but Steve still scored before the final out was recorded. Babjack hit a grounder the shortstop Nikea Ulrich fielded and threw to first for the out. Steve scampered home as the return throw to Neuman at third base caught Dunn trying to advance for the third out.
“We have battled the last few games,” Homer coach Cris Colasurdo said. “We were getting girls on base, we just weren’t able to finish it every time and get the runners home. We tried to build some consistency at the plate as the year went on. The girls always worked hard and were always there cheering each other on. That comes from within and I give them a lot of credit for their effort and attitude.”
Homer got two runners on in the sixth inning, but could not score a run. The Trojans went down 1-2-3 in the seventh to end the game.
WITH EACH TEAM having only a handful of seniors, both have bright futures because of the younger players that will return.
“It was nice to get one more win this year than last year, but I told the girls let’s not be satisfied with that,” Darrow said. “Those real close losses will pay dividends in the future. We have Hannah Whelan back for three more years. Talia Cruz is just a junior. Our corner infielders (third base Kacie Hubbard and first base-pitcher Cady Walts) are just eighth grades. The future does look really bright.”
“We have a lot of good younger players coming back next year and some more that will be coming up,” Settineri said. “We lost a lot of good seniors from last year and the group of us this year really had to become the leaders this season. I think we have helped the program with what we did this season. I’m proud of everyone. I have played with a lot of this girls since Cathy Stage softball. I’ll miss these girls and I am proud to be a part of Homer softball.”
“The seniors were very good leaders this season,” Colasurdo said. “Alexis, Bree Dexter, Nikea Ulrich on down, they were great. We some very good young players coming back next year and Cheryl (Carboine) had some very good players on her JV team this year that can help us next year.”
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