Chelsea Claflin made her Le Moyne College debut a year early and, other than Cooperstown’s batters, she was the only one who was disappointed in her performance.
“It was great to be on this field for the first time, but I just wish I had played better,” Claflin said after pitching a three-hitter to lead Sandy Creek to a 6-4 win over Cooperstown in the Section Three Class C softball championship game on Saturday.
The Comets senior right-hander, who will play for the Dolphins in college, also had a RBI single. In the circle, she dominated Cooperstown for all but one inning, striking out 13, walking two and hitting one batter.
Claflin had them swinging at rising balls that were too high and curves that were too wide. She had them swinging behind her fastball and way ahead of her change up. She froze six of them on called third strikes, too.
Still, Claflin focused on the one bad inning and the one bad pitch that Nicole Cring hit for a grand slam in the bottom of the sixth inning.
“My spins were not working as well as they normally do,” she said. “Maybe no one else could see it, but I knew. I just missed that pitch.”
Cring sent it over the wall in left-center field, more than 220 feet from home plate, to give Cooperstown hope after a long, hot afternoon of frustration.
“When she got back to the dugout, I asked her what happened to the curveball,” Sandy Creek coach Bill Fowler said. “She said, ‘It didn’t curve.’”
In the end, it didn’t matter.
Claflin made quick work of the bottom of Cooperstown’s order in the bottom of the seventh inning, following a lineout from No. 7 batter Erin Hascup with back-to-back strikeouts of Catherine Borgstrom and Jennifer Flynn to send Sandy Creek (21-1) back into the state tournament for the second straight season. Hascup, Borgstrom and Flynn combined to go 0-for-9 with seven strikeouts in the title game.