By Greg Klein Staff Writer
---- — Roxbury threatened to give the Wildcats their first loss of the season Saturday and take the Milford Booster Club Tournament softball title, but Milford made strong defensive plays in each of the final three innings to preserve a 6-5 win.
“That’s been our trademark all season,” Milford coach Jim Weir said. “We are playing very good defense. These girls give it everything they have got. You saw (Addy) Lawson diving for a foul ball on one side, and then Kaley (Chase) diving for a foul ball on the other side. I told them, I will stay out here with them all day long if they are going to give me that kind of effort.”
“This is a really special team, and this was a great game to be a part of,” he continued. “This is the kind of game you want to see.”
Roxbury, the defending Delaware League champion, started the seventh inning by getting two runners on base. Kendal Sprague singled to right field to lead off. Kennedy Farraci then bunted down the third base line and reached first safely when Peggy Paffenroth’s throw pulled Chase off the base.
Marissa Green lined a shot toward the outfield, but Serena Chase made a leaping catch at second base. Wildcat pitcher Kaitlin Van Winkler then got both Kaelie Van Loan and Bailey O’Donnell to ground out to Kaley at first to end the game.
In the sixth inning, left fielder Mataiah Waters made a running catch on Shannon Sprague’s fly ball. In the fifth inning, Kendal hit a lead-off double to deep center field. She tried to stretch it into a triple but Lawson took the cut off from Dawn Pickwick and made a long throw to Paffenroth at third for the tag out. After a ground out by Farraci, Green and Van Loan both singled. But O’Donnell lined out to Kaley at first to end the inning.
Trailing 5-4, Milford scored the go-ahead runs in the fourth inning. Lawson walked and then took second and third on a bunt single by Waters. Covering first, O’Donnell’s throw to third went wide, and Lawson scored on the error. Waters then scored on Paffenroth’s ground rule double to center field.
The Rockets took the lead in the top of the fourth. Lizzy Davis and Cristina Chiarappa drew walks. Shannon then singled to right field, and Maddy Zenir misplayed the ball, allowing both runners to score.
Milford’s other four runs came in the second inning, when Kendal hit Marina Steele and then walked three straight batters to score pinch runner Amanda Fish. Lawson then doubled to score all three runners.
Roxbury scored three runs in the top of the second when Van Loan and O’Donnell scored on Chiarappa’s triple. Chiarappa then scored on a fielder’s choice.
Van Winkler struck out five and got the win for Milford. Kendal struck out 12 but also walked seven and hit two batters in the loss.
Milford opened the tournament on Saturday with a 25-0 five-inning win over Hunter-Tannersville. Paffenroth had four hits including a grand slam in the second inning. Lawson had three hits including a triple and Waters had two hits. Kaley also had a triple. Serena got the win in relief of Van Winkler.
Roxbury beat Laurens 11-1 in the other opening round game. Laurens held off H-T 14-13 for the consolation game victory.
The All-Tournament team was: Lisa Arangio and Sarah Murin from H-T; Jess Hadlock and Claire Fraser from Laurens; Kendal, Shannon, Van Loan and Chiarappa from Roxbury; Lawson, Kaley, Paffenroth and Van Winkler from Milford.
On Tuesday, Milford (12-0) won 22-0 at Cherry Valley-Springfield. Zenir hit a grand slam in the second inning and Natasha Skillen had a two-run homer in the sixth inning.
Van Winkler pitched a two-hitter, striking out eight.
The Wildcats host Richfield Springs today. A win against the Indians would give Milford the Tri-Valley East title with two games left to play.