May 27, 2016
Walts' two-hitter silences Oswego bats
Bob Ellis/staff photographer
Elizabeth Minnard of Cortland High beats the throw to Mariah Galletta of Oswego for a stolen base Thursday at Meldrim Field.
As far as Maureen White is concerned, the Cortland High softball team has good timing.
“This team is right where we want to be,” the Purple Tigers coach said Thursday afternoon after her fourth-ranked squad blanked No. 5 Oswego 3-0 on Meldrim Field in a Section 3 Class A quarterfinal game behind a two-hitter by junior pitcher Cady Walts.
“Our play has improved and our batting is getting better; we’re going to the plate with more confidence. I’m happy with where we’re at right now,” she added. “Cady was determined and set the tone today when she stuck out the first three batters she faced in the game. She worked hard, as always. I think she’s peaking now, relaxing a little more out there and not putting all the pressure on her shoulders. She knows she has a good team behind her and is having fun, but she’s focused and not fooling around. A couple of pitches are working better for her; I’m not saying which ones.”
CHS advances to the semifinals Saturday at Gillette Road Park in Cicero, where it will face top-seeded Oneida, the two-time defending sectional champion, at 11:30 a.m. The Indians improved to 16-4 Thursday with a 4-3 quarterfinal win over No. 8 East Syracuse-Minoa.
Coming on the heels of two one-hit shutout wins over Homer to end the regular season, Walts has now pitched three straight shutouts, in which she’s allowed a total of four hits with 34 strikeouts, nine of those coming against Oswego to go with no walks.
Walts threw a three-hitter with seven strikeouts in a season-opening 5-3 Cortland non-league win at Oswego. “She caught us by surprise on opening day,” long-time Buccaneers coach Mike McCrobie said after his team had finished its season at 11-8. “Her rise ball fooled us a little and we spent the last four days preparing for that....obviously not enough.
“She pitched a great game and was the shutdown pitcher she’s been all year. We saw her last season too. Obviously she’s done a lot of work and has really, really become an elite pitcher in this league.”
“Getting the three strikeouts to start the game gave me a lot of confidence,” Walts said. “I think I’m playing as good as I’ve ever played; I feel real good about myself.”
CORTLAND GOT WHAT turned out to be the only run it would need in the bottom of the first inning. Senior third baseman Kacie Hubbard bashed a long triple to right-center and scored seconds later as Walts hit a line-drive single to left, just over the glove of Oswego sophomore shortstop Mariah Galletta.
“I got an outside pitch and just went that way with it,” Hubbard said of her big hit. “Scoring the first run early was good, but we’re always confidence with Cady pitching. She gets the job done.”
“I’m a lot more confident when we have a run in,” Walts said. “I was just thinking fastball, and the pitch came straight down the middle.”
Oswego senior centerfielder Maia Delaney lashed a two-out double into short left-center that just eluded a couple of fielders in the third for her team’s first hit. The Purple Tigers added to their lead with a run in the bottom of the inning as senior first baseman Hannah Whelan led off with a single to left, stole second and, one out later, scored on a single to center by Hubbard.
“I think (Oswego senior Hannah Gorman) was trying to pitch me outside, but she threw it where I wanted it, in the zone, and I hit it,” said Hubbard, who went 2-for-3 with the triple, RBI and run scored as the only player in the game with multiple hits.
“This was probably one of Kacie’s best hitting days,” White said. “She sparked us and got us going. The run she scored in the first was huge, especially after beating Homer by just 1-0 last Thursday.”
Gorman threw a good game as well, allowing just five hits and two earned runs with seven strikeouts.
A pair of infield errors with two outs allowed Oswego to put two runners on base (first and second) with two outs in the top of the fourth before Walts got an infield popup to end the threat.
“You can’t do anything about those,” Walts said of the miscues. “You just have to shake them off.”
THE PURPLE TIGERS closed out the scoring with a run in the bottom of the fourth. Freshman catcher Ashley Shortsleeve reached base safely on an error to lead off the frame and was safe at second on an error as freshman shortstop Sarah Boyce reached on a fielder’s choice. Two outs later, senior rightfielder Rebecca Alteri’s deep infield single on the right side scored Shortsleeve, Alteri out at second when she tried to advance on the throw home.
After a 1-2-3 fifth, Walts hit Oswego senior leftfielder Kelci Somers with a pitch to open the sixth. She then snared a line drive off the bat of Galletta and doubled Somers off first, noting with a smile that “I got hit with a line drive last year and couldn’t have that happen again.”
Senior leftfielder Charisse Farley then made a highlight-reel catch of as sinking liner off the bat of Buccaneers catcher Natasha Mezza to end the inning.
Senior designated player M’Kenzie Bradshaw lashed a solid double to left with two outs in the seventh for Oswego’s other hit before a foul fly to Hubbard ended the game.
“We came in as the fifth seed, just like we were last year,” McCrobie said. We have a lot less talent this year. The kids have competed all season. Cortland isn’t just a one-player show, either. They got clutch hits in the innings when they scored, a nice catch on the line drive to left and a nice double play. They played a nearly flawless game.”
As noted, Cortland hadn’t played since closing the season a week before with a 1-0 non-league win at Homer. “We gave the girls the weekend off, and they came back focused,” White said. “I had grandma duties — my son Steve and his wife Jennifer had their first child, a boy named Finnegan — late Monday night, and my assistant, Nicole Latham, worked the team hard Tuesday and Wednesday, kept them going. We couldn’t have done all this without her.
“We wanted to win the league (OHSL Freedom National) and did, and wanted to play well and advance in sectionals, which we’ve started to do. We hope to win the title.”
The winner of the Cortland-Oneida game will face either second-seeded Jamesville-DeWitt (16-4) or No. 11 Whitesboro (9-11), who also meet Saturday at 11:30 a.m. at Gillette Road Park, for the sectional Class A crown back on that same field Tuesday starting at 5 p.m. J-D beat No. 10 New Hartford 8-6 on Thursday while Whitesboro edged No. 3 Indian River 5-4.
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