WATERVILLE – Cooperstown’s Maria Noto was her usual dominant self in the circle during Wednesday’s Center State Conference Division II victory at Waterville.
Noto’s bat made her job as a pitcher much easier as she recorded two doubles, a single and a walk as the Hawkeyes cruised to a 10-1 victory to improve to 5-0 overall and 3-0 in the division. The junior star also struck out 13 batters and walked none to give her 67 strikeouts and zero walks in five complete-game victories this season.
Senior catcher Carson Haney also had three hits and third basemen Kaitlyn Palmatier had a pair of singles for Cooperstown.
Noto, who hits in the three spot, hasn’t been hitting very well early this season. She had only two hits entering Wednesday’s game, but credited working hard over the past week at the batting cage at her home.
“It’s good to get some solid hits,” Noto said. “I haven’t been hitting the ball well lately. It felt nice to do that today and help us get ahead early.”
After striking out eight of the first 10 batters she faced, Noto allowed three hits in the fourth inning and surrendered just her second run for the entire season when Molly Williams’ infield single drove home Sydney Cook to cut Cooperstown’s lead to 9-1.
The Indians (2-3, 4-3) managed two more hits in the fifth, but none of the five hits Noto allowed were laced.
“I don’t need to have 21 Ks in a game,” Noto said. “As long as we win the game, it doesn’t matter.”
Noto has allowed just four walks since the start of the 2015 season. Haney, who has caught Noto since midseason last year, is amazed by her pitcher’s consistency.
“She’s so good,” Haney said. “She just hits her spots. It’s not too hard on me … she makes it pretty easy. I know her pretty well. Sometimes I know what she’s thinking.”
The Hawkeyes batted around in the first inning. Jen Flynn got it started by reaching on an error. Then Noto and Haney hit back-to-back doubles to make it 2-0. Left fielder Alexie Tsouvas drew a walk, Palmatier singled, then following Paige Cring’s flyout to left, Virginia Aswad singled home Tsouvas for a 4-0 lead after the first half inning.
Cooperstown kept the bats going in the second as Flynn started off the inning with a single and Noto and Haney ripped RBI singles to give Cooperstown a 6-0 lead. The Hawkeyes didn’t need any more runs, but were able to plate three more in the fourth as Noto, Haney, Tsouvas and Palmatier strung together consecutive hits to start the inning.
Cooperstown cruised to the No. 1 overall seed last season but was stunned in the first round by Tully. To reach their goals of winning a Class C sectional title, the Hawkeyes will need similar performances at the plate when it counts most.
“We just have to keep the bats going,” Haney said. “We are doing fine in the field, and last year, once (Tully) started scoring runs, we got flustered and kind of panicked. We have to keep hitting consistently.”
Cooperstown coach Dave Bliss, now in his 16th season, was pleased with the way his team played defense and swung the bats, but knows there are still plenty of areas to improve if they want to make 2016 a special season.
“We just have to work on the little things,” Bliss said. “Base running has to improve. We are missing too many signs and tagging up at third has been an issue all season. We need to work on it.”
Longtime head coach Bob Clendennen tipped his cap to Cooperstown’s performance.
“(Noto) threw well today. A lot better than she did last time,” Clendennen said comparing Wednesday’s to last week’s 3-0 Cooperstown win over Waterville. “Their first four hitters hit the ball hard. They hit it hard and where we couldn’t catch it.”
Waterville has just two seniors and Clendennen believes his Indians will be a tougher team later in the season. Pitcher Cora Eastman is just a freshman and Waterville has plenty of young talent.
“We are 4-3 and I think our younger kids are going to get better and better,” Clendennen said. “Once we learn how to hit better, we’ll be good. I thought we played really well defensively today. So, as the younger kids get more experience, we’ll continue to improve.”
The battle between Cooperstown and Waterville wasn’t the only big CSC II battle taking place Wednesday. Herkimer (3-0, 4-1) remained tied with Cooperstown atop the division with an 11-0 victory over Westmoreland (2-1, 4-1).
Cooperstown 10, Waterville 1
Cooperstown 420 300 1—10 13 0
Waterville 000 100 0—1 5 2
W-Maria Noto (5-0). L-Cara Eastman. 2B-Noto (2), Haney (2), Alexie Tsouvas.