Generals headed back to Rochester, MN after sweeping Lazers
(Tina Karaqi went 2-for-2 in game two with a game-leading four RBIs).
ITHACA, NY – Traveling to Niemand-Robinson Field at Cornell University Friday to face Onondaga Community College in the NJCAA DIII Regional Championship didn’t faze the Herkimer Generals softball team, defeating the Lazers in straight games 7-1 and 12-2 for a third consecutive regional championship and national tournament appearance.
Herkimer 30-5 (10-1) had a familiar face on the mound in game one. Sophomore Toni Secreti (Syracuse, NY) - who was second in the region in wins (13), strike outs (143) and ERA (1.50) - kept up her superb season holding the Lazers to one run in seven innings of work. It was the second time this season Secreti had done it to the Lazers who were fourth in the region in runs scored.
With Secreti setting the tone, pitching the top half of every inning, it took until the bottom of the third for the bats to come alive, down 1-0 after Brianna Riggall (Phoenix, NY) scored Dallas Briot (Beaver Falls, NY) to give Onondaga an early 1-0 lead. It was the Lazers best inning of work in game one - collecting a single and double to start off – capturing their longest lead of the series in the process as well.
The Generals did just the same in the third when Caitlin Sanders (Duanesburg, NY) and Sarah Heimbach (Greenwich, NY) stood on first and second base with no outs and sophomore Ashley Sterritt (Accord, NY) at the plate. The sophomore, who was second in the region in RBIs, tallied two more on a double, scoring Sanders and Heimbach for the only lead change of the game (2-1). Giving Herkimer a 3-1 lead before the end of the inning was Delaney Buckley (Utica, NY). The sophomore knocked in her only run of the game – finishing 2-for-4 in the process, scoring Sterritt from third base who finished 3-for-4 with two RBIs.
It took a double play by the Lazers in the fourth to keep the Generals off the board with a line out. In the fifth they could’ve used some of that same luck, needing one out with the bases loaded and freshman Kayla Bancroft (Fort Ann, NY) coming to the plate. It didn’t happen however as Bancroft singled home Molly Moore (Norwich, NY) and Kathryn Dolly (Herkimer, NY) to give Herkimer a four run lead (5-1). Two more runs scored on the very next plate appearance by Alyssa Balfe (Oriskany, NY) - collecting the third single of the inning - scoring Rebekah Kitchen (Delmar, NY) and Bancroft. Both Balfe and Bancroft finished the game 1-for-3 with two RBIs.
Needing only six outs to win the first game, and a six run lead, Secreti closed the door on the Lazers striking out four of the next seven batters she faced, ending up with seven in the game. It helped the sophomore to her 14th win of the season.
In game two, starting pitcher Brittany Ormond (New Paltz, NY) didn’t have to wait for run support. The Generals collected 12 hits in five innings, two more than they had in game one, helping the team to score 12 runs by the end of the fourth. Ormond finished throwing five innings, allowing two runs on six hits and three walks.
Five different players tallied RBIs in the game, led by Tina Karaqi’s (Thornwood, NY) four. The sophomore collected three of them in the fourth inning when she hit a towering three-run home run to left field with one out, scoring Sterritt and Sammy Smaldone (Delmar, NY). It helped build the Generals lead to 12-1 with one inning left to play.
Smaldone was one RBI behind Karaqi with three, knocking in runs in the first and second innings. Her double in the first scored Heimbach and single in the second scored Heimbach and Sterritt, giving the sophomore 43 RBIs on the season, sixth best in the region. For Heimbach, it was her 38th run scored this season which was third best behind Sterritt and Smaldone. She finished game two 2-for-2.
Accumulating one RBI in the game was Sterritt, Buckley and Bancroft. Sterritt went 2-for-2, Buckley went 1-for-3 and Bancroft went 1-for-2.
Making it to the All-Tournament team for the Generals was Secreti and Smaldone. As for the Most Valuable Player, that was given to Sterritt.
Seedings for the NJCAA softball tournament are still to be announced. Stayed tuned to www.herkimergenerals.com for up to date information.
-Giorgio Varlaro; Athletic Website Manager