Rome – While the old adage of hitting them where they ain’t is true in softball so is hitting them where they can’t see. Elmira Notre Dame’s ability to do just that in Friday’s state regional game proved to be the difference in a 4-0 victory against Cooperstown (20-2).
“We were very fortunate with some of the fly balls,” said END’s veteran coach Steve Weber said after his No. 4 ranked Class c team knocked off the No. 1-ranked Hawkeyes at Kost Memorial Fields.
No. 8 hitter Morgan Cox was the catalyst on offense for the Crusaders (19-4). She singled in her first at bat, but it was her fly ball to left field in the fifth inning that started the winning rally. The senior’s blast was lost in the sun by Cooperstown left fielder Ginny Aswad and it ended up being a double. Ally Witchtowski followed with the second of her three sacrifice bunts and Maura Glovins followed with a single. That set up Mykenzie Majashen’s RBI single to right field. Alivia Clark followed with another long fly to left field that Aswad could not see in the sun and the END senior’s double made it 2-0.
The Hawkeyes’ All-State junior pitcher Maria Noto snagged a line drive and doubled up a runner to escape the jam, but in the top of the seventh Cox hit another fly ball that was dropped and it led to two insurance runs for END.
“This season I’ve just been trying to attack the ball,” Cox said. “I’ve been tryring to be more aggressive.”
Witchtowski followed Cox with another sacrifice bunt to set up more offensive heroics for Glovins and Clark.
“Late in the season I’ve been bunting a lot more,” Witchtowski said. “I’m getting better at them. (But) I’ve never had three) in a game.”
Glovins had a slap single and took second on Noto’s next pitch due to defensive indifference. That set up Clark, an All-State pitcher the past few years but one moved to shortstop midway through this season. The senior hit a two-RBI single to center field to make it 4-0. The way sophomore Izzy Milazzo was pitching and the END defense was playing, that was enough to clinch victory for the Section IV champ in the June 3 game.
“We felt Milazzo was able to do different things and Alivia could concentrate on her hitting more,” Weber said of the key change to his lineup. “It helped us as a team.”
Milazzo wasn’t overpowering, but she did record five strikeouts and no walks like Noto. With steady defense behind, especially from new third baseman Courtney Crater, it was enough to end Cooperstown’s best season.
“I threw pretty good,” Noto said after just her second loss of the year. “I was hopeful.”
Cooperstown was a worthy foe, but the day and the breaks belonged to END.
“It was a great year,” Cooperstown coach Dave Bliss said. “The kids have nothing to be ashamed of. They’ve gone farther than any Cooperstown team.”
Elmira ND 000 020 2 4-8-1
Cooperstown 000 000 0 0-4-2
Maria Noto (L). Milazzao (W).
Records – Elmira ND 19-4, Cooperstown 20-2.