It is hard to believe that Cooperstown’s softball team had never won a season title until this week.
Cooperstown has had plenty of good softball teams and even more good softball players. Current coach Dave Bliss has been in the position for 13 years. Assistant coach Tom Weeks is now on his third generation of year-round trained pitchers with senior Nicole Cring.
The problem has been tough division foes, Canastota and Sauquoit Valley in the past and Hamilton most recently. Although the Emerald Knights play a division lower than Cooperstown, in Class D, they have won the Center State Conference Division Three title for the past few years, sweeping Cooperstown en route to Section Three and regional titles. Hamilton lost in the state semifinals the past two years. In 2010, Hamilton also won the Section Three title.
This year, Cooperstown swept Hamilton, and some school officials believe it is the first CCS softball wins over Hamilton ever. The Knights were without their ace, sophomore Becca Rogers, in the circle. Relegated to second base with a shoulder injury for the first three-fourths of the season, Rogers returned on May 8 with a one-hitter against SV. She followed up with a no-hitter against Oriskany on Friday. Her backup, Cydnee Wendt, pitched a doubleheader Saturday, and threw her first career no-hitter against Madison. Hamilton could be ready to make another run in Class D.
To be sure, Cooperstown did well hitting and scoring on Wendt, giving her and her team their only two losses this season. A 14-1 victory at Hamilton on April 17 was lopsided. But with Cring’s pitching, Cooperstown could have won even a Hamilton-type “small ball” game. On May 3 at home, Cooperstown won that type of game over the Knights when junior Maggie Hall eluded a tag on the third base line to score the game-winning run in the bottom of the sixth inning, en route to a 5-3 victory.
On Monday, Cooperstown softball became the final Cooperstown team to win a “banner.” According to Cring’s father, Cooperstown Secondary Principal Michael Cring, the team has been aware for a while that it could make history.
“In school history we have won league or sectional titles, and in many cases both, with the lone exception of softball,” he said. “It has been a goal for this group of girls for a while.”
Now that history has been written, we suspect a league title won’t be enough for this team. Many of the girls have already won a Section Three title in basketball this year. A win in today’s game at SV and the softball team will finish the regular season undefeated. Bliss said Hall is the best position player he has ever coached. Cring, who followed up a no-hitter with a perfect game earlier in the season, is also undefeated and has broken her own single-season record for wins. And Cooperstown isn’t a two-person team. Arguably, more of the girls consider softball their first sport than at any other time in the program’s history. No wonder they have made history.
So while we congratulate Cooperstown softball and wish the team luck in the playoffs, and a varsity season that lasts into June, we also congratulate CCS on the other fact in this history. With softball being the last team, that means every other team has already been a champion.
There has been enough talk of mascots to last a season as well, but we will note for history that this title along with this year’s tennis team winning the CSC East title, and whatever titles are still left to be claimed this spring, are the last titles that Cooperstown teams and athletes will win as Redskins. We know there are a few that will grimace about that, and a few that will cherish it. But thanks to the softball team, the Redskins will have won titles in every sport.
And next year, we will be rooting for some Cooperstown team—perhaps some of these same girls—to be the first CCS Hawkeyes team to win a title.