BY GREG KLEIN
Rebecca Rogers out dueled Cooperstown’s Nicole Cring as visiting Hamilton (13-0, 7-0), the No. 1 ranked team in Class D, beat the Redskins, 6-1, in a Center State Conference softball game on Monday.
Rogers struck out 19 batters and pitched out of a bases-loaded jam in the third inning for the complete game win. She gave up five hits and walked two.
“She was as good a pitcher as we have seen,” said Redskins coach Dave Bliss. “I thought we were right in it. Most of the game, we had more hits than they had. We kind of fell apart at the end.”
Cring struck out 11 and gave up five hits. Cooperstown trailed just 2-1 until late in the game when the Emerald Knights broke it open on Cooperstown’s mistakes. The Redskins had seven passed balls, one wild pitch and four errors, and the mistakes led to four unearned runs.
“Nicole pitched great,” Bliss said. “We didn’t back her up on defense.”
Hamilton scored solo runs in the second and third innings to take a 2-0 lead. Kelby Watkins led off the second inning with a single. Pinch runner Meghan Holcomb then stole second and third and took home on a throwing error.
In the third, Katherine Keever led off with a single, stole second, took third on a passed ball and scored on a wild pitch.
Cooperstown got one run back in the bottom of the third inning. Catherine Borgstrom led off with a single, the first hit of the game for the Redskins. With two outs, Holli Erkson walked and Maggie Hall singled to load the bases. Alannah Haggerty hit an infield single to score Borgstrom. However, Rogers stuck out Natalie Reich looking to end the inning with the bases loaded.
In the fourth inning, Cooperstown got its first two batters on base as Lexi Duda and Cring both had singles. However, a fielder’s choice and two strikeouts ended the inning.
Rogers struck out the side in the first, second, fifth and sixth innings. She also worked her way out of the third inning with three strikeouts. On a radar gun, her pitches hit as high as 60 miles per hour; Cring’s were recorded as high as 58.
Cooperstown tried to catch up to Rogers by bunting, and had some success, getting four of its five hits on infield singles, including three bunts.
“We did that to try to catch up to her,” Bliss said. “I thought it worked. Then once we did that, we had some success swinging the bat as well. Maybe she got a little tired later in the game, and I think once we had been through the lineup the first time, we felt more comfortable with her.”
Cooperstown got single base runners in the sixth and seventh inning, but couldn’t advance them. The Redskins stranded seven runners on base.
Hamilton scored a third run in the sixth inning without getting a hit as Katie Weeks reached second on an error, stole third and scored on a passed ball.
In the seventh inning, the Knights broke open the game with three runs on three hits, an error, several passed balls and a throw home that hit the base runner and ended up scoring two runs.
Cooperstown played the game without starting second baseman Meghan Vann, who had a concussion. Several underclassmen were playing on the junior varsity team. All the missing players should be back tomorrow, when Cooperstown (10-3, 5-2) travels to Hamilton for a rematch, Bliss said.
“I know we will have everyone ready for the game Friday,” he said. “We’ll be a different team. I think we proved we can play with them. They are No. 1 in the state for a reason; they are a good team. But we are a good team too, and it will be a different game on Friday.”
HAMILTON 6, COOPERSTOWN 1
Hamilton 011 001 3 _ 6 5 1
Cooperstown 001 000 0 _ 1 5 4
Rebecca Rogers (W) and Kelby Watkins.
Nicole Cring (L,10-3) and