ORISKANY – Mike Reilly’s young Oriskany softball squad has zero seniors and just four juniors. The rest are underclassmen.
The Redskins’ youngsters played well beyond their grade-levels during Tuesday’s Center State Conference Division 3 home game against Waterville. Oriskany did nearly all the little things right. The Redskins pitched well, fielded well and came up with just enough clutch hitting to pull away for a 4-0 victory.
Angelina Hays pitched a six-hit shutout, striking out eight to earn the victory in the circle for Oriskany (2-1, 9-2). Aeron Hamm had two hits and scored a run, while Sofia Tagliaferri had two hits and two RBIs for the Redskins.
“We had a good week of practice and it showed out here today,” Reilly said. “Angelina Hays is a good pitcher and she did well moving the ball around. She’s worked a lot on other pitches and she’s getting there. We usually hit better, but we were able to play small-ball to get some runs today. This team is really together and they do what I ask in practice and in the game.”
Waterville senior Brittany Misiaszek had two hits and starter Cora Eastman also pitched a strong game, allowing just eight hits for the Indians (4-3).
The Indians did have their share of opportunities, but anytime they had runners in scoring position, Hays came up with a big pitch or Oriskany’s defense made the critical play.
“She’s good,” Waterville head coach Bob Clendennen said of Hays. “I thought both pitchers pitched well. They have different styles but both were effective. Softball is a weird game. We hit some balls hard, but they were right at them or they made a nice play. Then they would hit them where we weren’t. That’s how it goes sometimes.”
The Redskins put up an unearned run in the bottom of the second to take a 1-0 lead as Tagliaferri ripped an RBI single through the left side to score Abby Edsall, who reached on a throwing error and moved into scoring position on a sacrifice bunt by Hays and an infield single by Hamm.
The score remained that way until the bottom of the fifth when Elise Skermont bunted her way on to lead off the inning. After a strikeout, Courtney Donahue blooped a single to right field to put runners on the corners with just one out.
Power-hitting Maddelyn Hoehn bounced one back to Eastman to score Skermont. Eastman decided not to attempt to cut down Skermont at home and went for the safe out at first and eventually got out of the inning with the score just 2-0 in Oriskany’s favor.
Waterville looked to be making a rally in the top of the sixth as Misiaszek and Amber Bechy led off with consecutive singles. Then the Redskins defense, notably Tagliaferri, made the biggest defensive plays of the game.
With runners on first and second and nobody out, Waterville third basemen Molly Williams lined what looked to be a game-changing double down the left field line. Tagliaferri got a great break on the ball and extended to snag the inning’s first out and keep Waterville from possibly knotting the score.
“At first I thought it was foul and I still went for it,” Tagliaferri said. “I ran and reached out and caught it.”
Alivia Neff then hit a grounder up the middle that shortstop Matteson Hoehn corralled and threw to Hamm for the second out as both runners advanced a base. With the tying run at second, Hays got Kathleen Gallagher to fly out to Tagliaferri to end the threat.
“She’s a clutch player, probably our most clutch” Reilly said of Tagliaferri. “This year she’s started at third, first, catcher and in left. Wherever we put her she makes plays. She’s a good little athlete.”
While Waterville had trouble finding many holes, the Redskins were a bit more fortunate with the placement of some of their hits. That was evident in the bottom of the sixth as Tagliaferri plopped a perfectly-placed blooper into shallow left to score Edsall to make it 3-0.
“Things just fell together today,” Tagliaferri said. “It’s weird how it can go anyway and today it went our way. It was a huge win. We really needed this one, and it feels really good.”
Misiaszek felt the game could’ve gone either way, but the ball bounced in Oriskany’s favor.
“Honestly from last year to this year we are a much better hitting team,” Misiaszek said. “They just caught everything and they had a little luck. It was a good game, good competition and that’s what we’ll see the next few weeks.”
Skermont drove Hamm in for Oriskany’s final run with a groundout to shortstop Aliah Decker, who made several nice plays in the field for the Indians.
Clendennen is looking forward to another game with Oriskany as the teams meet again Monday in Waterville.
“We can hit,” Clendennen said. “We can really swing it and thank God we have another shot at them. They are good and today it was two good teams going at it. They played well and pitched well, but I’m not disappointed at all in the way we played.”
Leading 4-0, Hays didn’t mess around in the top of the seventh, striking out two of the three batters by locating her fastball.
“I was trying my best to work both sides of the plate and hit my spots as best as I could,” Hays said. “The defense did amazing. It was crazy. On a few of those hits I was really on my toes and they got to them for big outs.”
Oriskany continues its busy stretch Wednesday with a road league game at rival Westmoreland.
Oriskany 4, Waterville 0
Waterville 000 000 0—0 6 3
Oriskany 010 012 X—4 8 1
W: Angelina Hays. L: Cora Eastman.
Records: Oriskany (2-1, 9-2). Waterville (1-1, 4-3).
Check out www.PhotosAtTheGame.com for a complete gallery of action photos from today’s game!