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June 9, 2008

 

Trojans tripped in final

New Hartford recovers to take Class A softball title

Homer

Joe McIntyre/staff photographer
New Hartfordd’s Maureen McCoy (17) slides safely into second during a double play attempt by Homer Central shortstop Ashley Bown (5) in the third inning of Saturday’s Section 3 Class A title game in Cicero. Top seed Homer lost, 6-2.      

By TOM VARTANIAN
Staff Writer

CICERO — New Hartford senior Haley Butler shook off a tough first inning and pitched a masterful three-hitter to lead the Spartans to a 6-2 victory over top-seed Homer Central in Saturday’s Section 3 Class A softball championship game.
The Spartan captain struck out seven Trojan batters and walked one batter while allowing one earned run at the Gillette Middle School complex in Cicero.
The Trojans see a superb season ended at 21-3 overall, the second best varsity season by any Homer team. Meanwhile, New Hartford (20-8) advances to a first-round state tournament game this afternoon and will face Section 10 champion Franklin Academy.
Butler used a deceptive drop ball, worked the outside corners and mixed in a strong rising fastball to keep Homer hitters off balance. The win by the senior captain and her teammates was all about confidence and earning respect.
“We heard all the stories about how awesome the third and fourth batters are,” said New Hartford coach John Cunningham, referring to Stephanie Hartquist and Gabby Luety. “We knew Homer had multiple pitching options and had only one league loss with some tough non-league opponents. Our girls were coming into the game wondering if they could win. We settled in after the first inning. Haley got into a rhythm, we got the clutch hits and we got a very nice win against a very good Homer team.
“The girls were drained after an emotional win over rival Oneida in the semifinals Thursday,” Cunningham added. “The was a big win for us and today was all about respect. Our girls did not want to embarrass themselves. The toughest part was convincing them that they might be just as good as Homer. The girls found out today that they are that good and deserve to be here.”
“We made some uncharacteristic mistakes towards the end of the game,” said Homer coach Cris Colasurdo. “Because it happened so late in the game, it was tough to recover. We just did not have the time today to pick the intensity back up.”
As for his pitcher, Cunningham gave this assessment.
“Haley made a couple of mistakes in the first inning, but she came back strong,” Cunningham said. “We had a game plan for Hartquist and Luety. She missed her location and paid for it. It happened early in the game and we were able to recover. Haley really pitched a sold game and her teammates backed her up.”
That first mistake Cunningham mentioned was a throwing error that allowed Danielle Swarm to reach first base with one out in the bottom of the first inning.
Hartquist followed with a single to right field. The ball was bobbled allowing Swarm to beat the throw to third while Hartquist dashed to second base. The pitching location miscue came to Luety, who ripped a double into the right field corner. Both runners scored while Luety was thrown out trying to hustle into third base as Homer took a 2-0 lead.
A TWO-OUT single by Jessica Rigg in the second inning, Ashley Brown being hit by Butler pitch in the fourth and Hartquist drawing a walk in the sixth inning were the only other Trojans to reach base in the game. Rigg got to second on a passed ball and Brown was called out for leaving the base too early.
Halee Riley was equally effective for the Trojans as the senior hurler allowed just two runs and five hits. Riley struck out six batters during her five innings in the circle. She got a no decision as the Spartans tied the game in the top of the third.
Maureen McCoy singled with one out to start the Spartan rally. She moved to second when Butler grounded ot to first base, Dominique Carcone (3-for-4) singled to put runners at the corners and Brianna Pristera head a triple to the fence in right field to score both runners and tie the game. Riley got a pop-up to end the inning.
The only other hit she surrendered came in the fifth when Pret Kennedy (2-for-3) singled, but was thrown out by Luety trying to steal second base.
The previous inning, Center fielder Courtney Rainbow robbed Caitlynn Allen on a single with a great diving catch.
Brown came on to pitch for Homer in the top of the sixth inning and New Hartford loaded the bases on singles by Carcone and Stephanie Romanov before Tessa Trainor was hit by a pitch.
Cadiuex lifted a fly ball to right-centerfield and Rainbow made another nice running catch. Carcone waited until Rainbow tossed the ball towards second base before dashing home with the go-ahead run. Brown got out of the inning with a pop-up to riey, who was now playing first base.
The only fielding mistakes by the Trojans came in the nice inning as New Hartford scored three insurance runs for a 6-2 cushion in the top of the seventh inning.
Kennedy led off with a single. Butler drew a one-out walk and Carcone followed with a single to load the bases. Pristera grounded out to second base which allowed Kennedy to score and the other two runners to advance to second and third. Romanov’s grounder was misplayed a second base and the resulting error allowed two more runs to score to complete the cushion needed by the Spartans for victory. A ground ball to shortstop ended the New Hartford half of the inning.
BUTLER RETIRED the Trojans 1-2-3 in the bottom of the seventh and a remarkable season came to an end for Homer seniors Brown, Swarm, Hartquist, Halee Riley and Whitney Andrews. As in any post-season play, the end is abrupt and emotional, but should not distract what this team did this season.
“I told the girls that they had nothing to hang their heads about,” said Colasurdo. “We had a fabulous season. This was the second best season in school history and we reached the sectional final. This had not happened in a long time so they should be proud of that accomplishment.
“This is a very special team,” Colasurdo continued. “We had a great group of seniors, who were real good leaders and laid the foundation for us. We will miss them next year. We will have a very good group returning and I know they can build on what we did this season.”