By Greg Klein
---- — Nicole Cring struck out 16 batters and drove in four RBIs as Cooperstown won its home softball opener on Monday, beating Mount Markham 15-0.
“We’re doing great when we get pitching like that,” Cooperstown coach Dave Bliss said.
Cring struck out the side in the first, third and fifth innings. She faced only 23 batters in seven innings, giving up two walks and one hit. One of the runners was called out on a rule violation.
Cooperstown outfielder Ellen Vibbard hit a grand slam as part of a 12-run first inning.
“She didn’t hit like that last year,” Bliss said. “She’s really improved her hitting. We have had a couple of girls really improve at the plate in the off season.”
Vibbard’s home run down the left-field line came in her second at bat of the first inning, and was actually the first Cooperstown hit of the game despite a 4-0 lead.
Mount Markham’s starting pitcher, Kaleigh Bryce, walked eight batters and hit two more in her one inning on the mound.
“They are in the same situation we were in last week,” Bliss said. “This was their first time outdoors this season.”
Four batters after Vibbard’s homer, Cring hit a bases-loaded shot to the area. Left fielder Hayley Young misplayed the ball and another four runs scored. Cring was given a single and two RBIs on the play, and Young was charged with a three-base error.
A double by Christina Noto and a triple by Cring, both off relief pitcher Michaela Aney in the fifth inning, scored the other three Cooperstown runs.
Vibbard and Maggie Hall scored three runs each. Vibbard and Cring each went 2-for-3.
Sarah Mondore got the only hit for the Mustangs, lining a high 0-2 change-up into center field in the second inning.
Cooperstown (2-0, 1-0) were scheduled to play a key game yesterday after deadline at division rival Hamilton. The Emerald Knights, who are a Class D school, have won two straight Section Three titles.
“I would have liked to have had a couple more games under our belts before we went to Hamilton,” Bliss said. “This was supposed to be our sixth game of the season, but it has only been our second.”
Cooperstown plays in the Mudville Tournament in Herkimer on Saturday and at Westmoreland on Monday.
Cooperstown 15, MM 0
Mount Markham 000 000 0 - 0 1 5
Cooperstown (12)00 030 x - 15 7 0
Kayleigh Bryce (L), Michaela Aney (2) and Emily Barrett. Nicole Cring (W,1-0) and Erin Hascup. 2B: Christina Noto (C). 3B: Nicole Cring (C). HR: Ellen Vibbard (C).