3rd place finish for Herkimer Softball
Rochester, MN-- The Herkimer Generals softball team finished third in the country this year finishing 33-8. Herkimer, seeded #2 in the national tournament won their first two games 11-0 over #7 seed Itasca and 9-0 over #3 Rowan Gloucester. The stars were aligned as predicted as Herkimer was scheduled to play the #1 seeded Rock Valley on Friday May 19th for the chance to move on to the National Championship game.
Herkimer did not show up with their best game as Rock Valley took an early 4-0 lead in the first inning. Sophomore Casey Boltersdorf (Levittown, PA) was in the circle to start off for the Generals but was not like herself giving up four earned runs, including three walks, two hit batters and a wild pitch to score a run. Within the first inning freshman Keeanna Wolcik (Baldwinsville, NY) entered striking out the next batter to earn the second out of the inning. With bases loaded Rock Valley power hitter D. Watson pinch hit and was walked by Wolcik to give the Golden Eagles their fourth run of the inning. Wolcik forced a ground out from the next batter to end the inning 4-0, Rock Valley.
Wolcik pitched 2.1 innings giving up five hits, three runs, two walks and struck out 4. To close out the game was freshman Kayla Maiolo of Brooklyn, NY. Maiolo pitched 1.1 innings giving up one run and two hits.
The Herkimer offense was unable to produce a run. The Generals earned four hits and one walk leaving all five on base. Freshman Allison Lockwood (Windsor, NY) went two for three on the day with two singles and one strikeout. Boltersdorf went one for two with a bloop single to short right field. Centerfielder Paige Crittela (Syracuse, NY) went one for two putting the ball in play both at bats but only reaching first on one. The Generals fell to Rock Valley in five innings 8-0 which sent Rock Valley to the Championship game and Herkimer to the consolation bracket to face the #8 seeded Suffolk.
Saturday the road would have been long for the Generals to return home champions. To win it all Herkimer would have to defeat their first opponent of the day Suffolk Community College Sharks in the National Semifinal game and from there beat Rock Valley twice all in one night. Herkimer's sights were first set on the Sharks. Originally the schedule was to run 12 p.m., 2 p.m., and the if necessary at 4 p.m. but mother nature had other plans. A large rainstorm delayed the start of game one by 6.5 hours. The city of Rochester parks and recreation department worked tirelessly to get the field ready for this momentous day and was successful as the first pitch was thrown at approximately 6:45 p.m. central time.
Boltersdorf was awarded the start for this game as well, and her performance was again not enough. Her first inning was quick striking out one, and walking just one, allowing her defense to record the other two outs. In the second however, she gave up seven earned runs, allowed five hits and walked two before obtaining the first out of the inning.
Boltersdorf then handed the ball over to fellow sophomore Jackie Gardner (Syracuse, NY). Gardner produced a valiant performance given the situation. She gave up just one walk and struck out two. Gardner also gave up five hits but the Herkimer defense left them all stranded on base to hold Suffolk to those seven runs.
The Herkimer offense was able to rally down the stretch scoring two in the fourth, one in the fifth and two more in the sixth trailing the Sharks 7-5 going into the final inning. Gardner was able to shut down Suffolk's last attempt at offense in a 1-2-3 top of the seventh sending Herkimer back in the dugout to try and win it. Gardner was first up in the batters box and hit a line drive single to start the inning. Sophomore Lacy Nealy (Montrose, PA) executed a perfect hit behind the runner in a ground ball to 1st moving Gardner to scoring position. Freshman catcher #8 Morgan Sgarlata (Oneida, NY) took a fastball to the elbow to take first base. Runners on first and second with one out Alexis Ramos (Utica, NY) hit a ground ball to the pitcher and drew the throw to first allowing the runners to advance.
With two outs and the tying run at second freshman Allison Lockwood (Windsor, NY) stepped up to the plate. Lockwood with a heavy softball resumé was no stranger to stressful situations as her high school team Windsor has made it to 4 straight state championship games winning it her freshman year in 2013. Lockwood had a long at bat fouling off pitch after pitch hoping for a ball left down the middle of the plate that she could drive. Lockwood was unfortunately fooled and struck out leaving the final score 7-5.
The 2017 NJCAA DIII National Championship went to the Rock Valley Golden Eagles as they defeated the Suffolk County Sharks 20-0 in the title game. Rock Valley is now the only DIII junior College to win four straight national championships.
Earning a well deserved spot on the national all-tournament team were two members of the Herkimer softball team. First was freshman pitcher #55 Keeanna Wolcik who pitched in three games earning a total of 16 strikeouts, zero earned runs, giving up only 9 hits and 2 walks. The second Herkimer General on the 2017 national all-tournament team was sophomore center fielder #11 Paige Crittela. Crittela hit .455 in the tournament with five runners batted in, three runs and two stolen bases. Crittela also led the Herkimer outfield playing center and made three amazing catches over her head and in the gap.