By Greg Klein Staff writer
---- — Hamilton tried to make sure Maggie Hall didn’t beat them again in softball, but Hall still found a way on Friday.
After being intentionally walked for the third time, Hall eluded Kendall Rusch’s tag on Ellen Vibbard’s grounder down the third-base line to score the game-winning run in the bottom of the sixth inning of Cooperstown’s 5-2 home win.
“That was nice,” Hall said. “I was scared she was going to make the tag, but I got just far enough away from her.”
“It was frustrating they weren’t pitching to me,” she continued. “After the game their coach said he did it out of respect.”
On April 17, Hall went 4-for-4 with two home runs in a 14-1 win at Hamilton. Cooperstown has given the second place Emerald Knights their only two losses this season, and now has a two-game lead and a tie-breaker in the Center State Conference Division III standings.
After Hall made it 3-2, Erin Hascup hit a double down the third base line to score Vibbard and Nicole Cring, who had also been walked. Cring and Hall advanced to second and third on a passed ball before Vibbard’s RBI fielder’s choice.
Cring was also walked three times by Hamilton, twice intentionally. Without Cring and Hall’s bats, Cooperstown needed support from other players, but coach Dave Bliss said he wouldn’t call Hascup and Vibbard unlikely heroes.
“I wouldn’t say that at all,” Bliss said. “Erin and Ellen have been hitting well for us all year. Catherine (Borgstrom, who went 3-for-4), has been hitting very well. We got very good pitching and defense to go along with our good hitting.”
Cring struck out 11 batters, giving up two runs on six hits and one walk. She struck out three batters in both the first and fifth innings.
The pitching showdown with Hamilton’s ace Becca Rogers again did not materialize because Rogers is still recovering from an injury to her right shoulder. Cydnee Welsh pitched again for Hamilton. She gave up five runs on eight hits, walked eight and hit two in the loss. Hamilton’s coach Bill Dowsland said he hopes to have Rogers, who has been playing second base, back in the circle this week.
Hamilton scored in the first inning. Jessica Welsh led off with a single to right field, just beating a throw by Vibbard from the outfield to first base. Welsh stole two bases and scored on a single to left field by Kelby Watkins.
Cooperstown tied the game in the bottom of the inning. Alannah Haggerty was hit by a pitch. She moved to second on Hall’s walk and then scored on a fielder’s choice.
Haggerty, who was playing in only her second game of the season after a high ankle sprain, scored again in the fourth inning. She was hit again, advanced on Lexi Duda’s single and scored on an error.
Hamilton tied the game in the fifth inning on a home run by Hayden Nolan, the Knights’ No. 9 hitter.
Cooperstown stranded 13 base runners, had two more thrown out at home plate and another picked off trying to take third base.
“Our base running made me want to pull my hair out,” Bliss said. “We had a lot of opportunities. Up there (at Hamilton) we found a lot of green. Today we didn’t find the green when we had runners in scoring position.”
Still, Bliss said he was happy to win another close game. Last season the team lost close games to Hamilton and in the playoffs against Weedsport. “We need to go through some of these games before we get to sectionals, because that’s the way it will be once we get there,” he said.
On Saturday, Cooperstown won at Frankfort-Schuyler 7-0 in a non-division game. Cring pitched a two-hitter and struck out 11 for the win. She also hit a two-run triple in the seventh inning. Christina Noto made two stand-out plays at first base and went 2-for-4 while Haggerty and Jennifer Flynn each scored stealing home on double steals.
On Monday, Cooperstown won at Sherburne-Earlville 15-1 in another non-division game. Flynn and Haggerty each went 4-for-4. Hall and Noto each had two hits including two-run doubles. Cring struck out nine, walking two in a two-hitter. She also had two hits.
Cooperstown (13-0, 8-0) hosted Westmoreland yesterday after deadline. S-E will play at Cooperstown on Friday.