June 4, 2009
Trojans shut out top seed for title
Rigg holds South Jefferson to one hit
Bob Ellis/staff photographer
Homer Central catcher Gabby Luety tags out South Jefferson’s Katie Murphy trying to score during Wednesday’s Section 3 Class B-1 title game. Trojans blanked the top seeds, 4-0.
CICERO — One year older and more experienced, Homer Central returned to the Gillette Middle School Softball Complex in Cicero with thoughts of a Section 3 title.
After issuing a walk to the lead-off batter, Trojan senior Jessica Rigg struck out the side and retired 13 straight South Jefferson batters before surrendering a lone hit. Her teammates then provided the offense as the sixth-seed from Homer posted a 4-0 victory over the top-seeded Spartans for the Class B-1 championship — the first sectional softball title for the Trojans since 1997.
Homer (17-8) will meet Class B-2 champion Canastota (24-2), a 5-0 winner over Adirondack (17-5) yesterday, in the Section 3 Overall Class B title game at 7 p.m. Saturday at the Gillette Road Complex.
“As soon as we entered the post-season, the girls really became more focused,” said Homer coach Cris Colasurdo. “They all have been working hard and doing the things they need to do. We are playing well. Today was a total team effort.
“Jess is healthy, for the most part,” Colasurdo added of hurler Rigg. “She is still struggling a little with the pulled muscle, but she is pitching well.”
“It did start out a little rough with the walk,” said Rigg. “I think that not only myself but the entire team came through and showed what we are really made of. After the nerves settled down, I was able to pitch like I am capable of.
“It feels great to return here again this year,” she added. Homer losing to New Hartford in the finals a year ago. “It was nice to win this title, but we need to put our minds to work and come back Saturday to win and make it to the state tournament.”
Rigg struck out seven Spartan batters and issued a total of two walks.
“That girl (Rigg) is a good pitcher,” said South Jefferson coach Steve Randall. “She moved the ball around well and we had trouble getting hits. We got anxious early and she got us out.”
Katie Murphy broke up the no-hitter with one out in the top of the fifth inning. Murphy laced a double into left-centerfield and moved to third base on a wild pitch. Katie Lyndaker followed with a walk and moved to second on a second wild pitch, but Murphy could not advance from third.
Homer’s Alyssa Morgan then made the play of the game at second base to keep the shutout intact. Tapulei Vaveao hit a sharp grounder to the freshman and, without hesitation, Morgan fired the ball to catcher Gabby Luety, who tagged Murphy out after contact between the two at home plate. Lyndaker went to third on the play and Vaveao moved to second. Shannon Zaykoski hit a pop-foul to the left of home plate and Luety made that catch to end the inning.
“I saw the runner going,” said Morgan of her heads-up play. “I didn’t want that run on the board. I didn’t want them to get comfortable with a run so I threw the ball home.”
“It was a great play by Alyssa,” said Luety. “I wasn’t expecting the girl to come up behind me. She hit me hard, but I was able to hold on to the ball.
“Jessica had a little first batter nerves, but she settled down,”” Luety continued. “I though she pitched well. McKenna (Riley) made some nice plays. Everyone really was a part of this win.”
The only other scoring threat for the Spartans came in the next inning when Mackenzie Hall, who drew the walk in the first inning off Rigg, led off the sixth by reaching second base on the lone Trojan error of the game. Pinch-hitter Danielle LaFlesh hit a foul fly ball that Trojan rightfielder Jamie Gray made a nice catch on next to the fence. Rigg then struck out Dinah Vaveao and Allison Hall grounded out to end the threat.
While South Jefferson was having trouble getting baserunners, Homer was not suffering the same fate, but the Trojans could not push a run across the plate. Courtney Rainbow singled, but was thrown out at second base trying to steal for the final out of the first inning. Ashley Crossway (2-for-2) doubled with one out in the second inning. Katie Sinclair (3-for-3) followed with a single to put runners at the corners. Sinclair moved to second base on defensive indifference, but both runners were left stranded. Morgan (2-for-3) singled to lead off the third, but nothing became of that hit either as the Spartan defense made the plays necessary to keep the game scoreless.
All that changed in the bottom of the fourth inning, Riley (3-for-4) led off with a single. Crossway and Sinclair also got base hits to load the bases. A grounder back to pitcher Jena LaLone was fielded cleanly and Riley was thrown out at the plate for the first out. A pop-up to first base was the second out and it looked like South Jefferson might dodge another bullet.
Morgan stepped to the plate and, the half-inning before her big defensive play, the freshman stroked a single into left field to score Crossway and give Homer its first run of the game. Alexis Brown hit a slow grounder to second base that was bobbled and the late throw led to a collision at first base between Brown and Tapulei Vaveao. Brown was safe, Sinclair scored and the Trojans led 2-0. That would be it for the bottom of the fourth.
“The bats came out a little bit later than we thought,” said Morgan. “After worked out like we hoped it would though. I thought we played well as a team.”
Homer added two more runs in the fifth. Luety doubled off the centerfield fence to start the inning. Riley singled and Crossway walked to load the bases. A single by Sinclair made it 3-0 and chased LaLone from the pitching circle. Murphy got Gray to hit a grounder to shortstop that Dinah Vaveao fielded quickly and threw home to force out Riley. Pinch-hitter Rachel Perry stepped in and hit a sacrifice fly that allowed Crossway to score from third for the fourth Trojan run. An error loaded the bases again, but no further damage was done.
Homer went quietly in the bottom of the sixth and Rigg retired the Spartans in order in the seventh, the final out being her seventh strikeout to touch out the post-game celebration.
“I am so lucky to be on the varsity team,” said Morgan. “I am just glad that I could help them win the game.”
“It was great to get back here and finish what we did start last season,” said Luety. “We have kept on improving all season long and it’s nice to get a championship for all the hard work.”
As for South Jefferson, Coach Randall was pleased with the overall season.
“I would never have picked us to go this far at the beginning of the season,” he said. “I m proud of what the girls did this season. 22-2 is still nice. Would I like us to have gone farther? Sure, but I am proud of what we did accomplish.”
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