Rome – The #1 seeded Cooperstown Hawkeyes softball team improved to (19-1) on the 2016 season with a hard fought 5-1 victory over 12th seeded Frankfort Schuyler, in the semifinal round of the Section III, Class C, Softball Tournament at Kost Field in Rome.
It wasn’t easy for star pitcher Maria Noto and the Hawkeyes, but at this stage of the season, it isn’t supposed to be. Frankfort reached today’s semifinal after upsetting 5th seeded Port Byron and 4th seeded Herkimer for the first two sectional victories in program history and were hungry to keep the upset wagon rolling.
“We didn’t change a thing” Hawkeyes head coach Dave Bliss told The Mid-York Sports Report, we approached this one the same way we approach them all, we want to play great defense behind our pitcher, we want to play small ball and we want to move runners”.
Cooperstown’s renowned small ball approach got things rolling early when Jennifer Flynn reached on a bunt, stole second base and later scored on a single off the bat of Carson Haney, giving the Hawkeyes a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the first.
After Maria Noto set the Lady Knights down on strikes in order in the top of the second, Cooperstown struck again in the home half. Lauren Vibbard reach on one of 4 Frankfort errors on the day, with two outs. She later scored on an infield error caused by a ground ball from Flynn, giving the top seed a 2-0 lead.
Cooperstown made it 5-0 in the bottom of the fourth and never looked back. Alexi Tsouvas singled to lead off the half inning. Then, in a bizarre play, Virginia Aswad bunted and as she was racing to first when she was hit in the head by the throw to first from Frankfort catcher Michaela Costello, sending the ball into right field and sending the runners to second and third. Another Frankfort error and singles from Noto and Haney, put the Hawkeyes on top 5-0 and also chased starting pitcher Maria DeNigro out of the ball game, in favor of fellow junior Danielle Florentino.
This scrappy Frankfort club did manage a run in the top of the 6th when DeNigro singled and scored, but it was too little too late for the Knighs, who finished a remarkable season at (13-6).
After the contest, Maria Noto, Cooperstown’s all time leader in wins and strikeouts, told The Mid York Sports Report that she felt it was the fast ball that did the most damage today, “the fastball was working well and I felt like I kept them off balance pretty well the off speed stuff too” she said.
For senior second baseman Jennifer Flynn, having some excitement in the infield was a welcome change. “Usually with Maria (Noto) it’s 1-2-3 sit down and we spend a lot of time waiting for a ground ball, today, Frankfort hit the ball and we were able to make some plays behind her, so that was good for us”. Flynn will attend Elmira College in the fall, where she will play softball for the Soaring Eagles.
Cooperstown senior catcher Carson Haney, said that while Cooperstown is having great success this season, they need to keep things in perspective and take it one game at a time. “I’m not sure we have a goal, per-say, I think we’re more about winning each game as it comes and if we keep doing that, we’re going to end up in a great place” the future Nazareth College student explained.
Frankfort head coach Bryan Ingalls left the field with a mixed bag of disappointment and tremendous pride. The first year Knights head coach took over the program just a few days before the season started and couldn’t be more proud of his girls. “These kids truly came together as a team this season and I am amazed at the progress that they made in such a short period of time” the coach explained, adding “we got two sectional wins and gave a very good Cooperstown team a heck of a run today. I have a great group of very unselfish players and they proved that they can play with anyone”.
Cooperstown, (19-1) advances to take on Sandy Creek, the second seed, on Tuesday at 7PM in Cicero for the Section 3 Class C Championship.