Cady Walts hit a milestone Monday afternoon as the Cortland High softball team hosted Homer Central on Meldrim Field. She also hit the ball, and almost completely kept the Trojans from doing the same.
It all added up to a 9-0 OHSL Freedom National Division win for the Purple Tigers on their Senior Night as the junior right-hander threw a one-hitter with 14 strikeouts. The last of the 14 was the 500th of Walts’ fourth-year varsity career. In addition, she went 4-for-4 at the plate with two doubles, four RBIs and a run scored.
“I had a lot of motivation to get my 500th strikeout, to beat Homer and to help win it for the seniors,” said Walts. “I always like to beat Homer. I didn’t realize I had a no-hitter going until they got their first one (a bloop double down the left field line by sophomore centerfielder Caley Cornwell with one out in the seventh), so it didn’t matter as much.
“I haven’t been hitting as well as I can, and it felt good to get that boost. Once we got up by more than a run there was less pressure.”
“Cady is pitching well,” Cortland coach Maureen White said after her team, which had already wrapped up the Freedom National championship, finished its league season at 7-3 and improved to 8-6 overall. “She’s kind of taken the team on her shoulders; when the other team does hit the ball we try to back her up defensively.
“The kids are always hyped up for Homer, which had a little to with it. Cady had a nice restful weekend and has been steady for us the whole time. This was probably her most consistent game offensively. She’s one of our better hitters, and had a well-rounded game today. Sarah Boyce’s home run was big, too. A freshman we called up from the JVs early this season, she’s getting more and more confident every day. She’s our shortstop, but we’ve also had her at catcher and in the outfield. She does everything with a smile, and is steady. Everybody was digging down on Senior Night.”
Boyce went 3-for-4 in the game with the homer, a double, two RBIs and two runs scored, and junior second baseman Liz Minnard went 2-for-4 with a run.
THE TROJANS TRAILED by just 3-0 heading into the bottom of the sixth, junior pitcher Rachael Osterhoudt having allowed eight hits, before things unraveled for the visitors in the seventh as CHS scored six runs on six hits and a pair of Homer errors.
In addition to those miscues the Trojans also made a few mistakes — primarily misplayed fly ball to the outfield — that, while not going down as errors, helped the hosts.
“We had a couple of mistakes in the field, couple of balls that could have been caught, that if we’d made the plays on, could have prevented runs,” Homer coach Cris Colasurdo said, her team now 3-6 in the league and 6-9 overall. “We knew Cortland is a tough, solid team that’s well-coached. They had a lot of good hits, but we helped them out a little.
“We also knew that Cady is s strong pitcher, but thought maybe that we could get hits off her after out batters had seen her for the first time. But we haven’t seen a pitcher like that this season. We stayed with it and finally got a hit; the girls’ don’t give up. Rachael and Ally (Osterhoudt, junior catcher and Rachel’s twin sister) worked well together and moved the ball around. Cortland put the ball in play; they have good hitters.”
The game was scoreless until Boyce smashed the first pitch she saw leading off the bottom of the second deep to right for a home run. “It felt great,” the freshman shortstop said of her first varsity homer. “When I hit it, it felt like it was going to go far. I thought the rightfielder was going to catch it, but it went over her head. It feels better that it came against Homer, and Cady did a great job for us once we got the lead.”
Walts added to that lead in the fifth with a two-run bloop double to left-center after senior first baseman Hannah Whelan and senior leftfielder Charisse Farley had both singled with one out.
ON THE MOUND, meanwhile, she recorded six straight strikeouts between the final out of the third and the second out of the fifth. After an error put as runner on, she got a strikeout to end the fifth as well. She added two more Ks in the sixth and, after Cornwell’s hit, a sacrifice bunt by junior leftfielder Lindsey Sovocool sent Cornwell to third before Walts fanned junior first baseman Emily McNeill to reach the magic 500 strikeout mark and end the game.
The Purple Tigers had ended all suspense with their uprising in the bottom of the sixth. Walts had a two-run single to left, Boyce an RBI double and freshman catcher Ashley Shortsleeve a run-scoring single, while Whelan drove in a run and the other run scored on an error.
Homer was to visit non-league opponent Bishop Grimes today starting at 4:30 p.m. before the Purple Tigers visit on Thursday in a 4:15 p.m. non-leaguer to close their season. The Trojans then finish their regular season on Friday, hosting Central Square in a league game that starts at 5 p.m.
“I’m proud of these girls,” White said. “Every day they come to work hard and get the job done. We need to win Thursday to help our sectional seeding, and then next week starts another season.”
Seniors from both teams were honored in pre-game ceremonies.
CORTLAND JVs fell to 5-10 after being swept by visiting Oswego, 15-2 and 11-3. Sophomore Leah Romer and eighth-graders Pearl Hettich and Lyndsie Babcock all had multi-hit games and pitcher Taylor Hart had three strikeouts.
Hettich had two of the Purple Tigers’ four hits in the second game and Babcock pitched, fanning two batters.
“Oswego is a good team, with a record of 16-2, but we didn’t help ourselves,” CHS coach Dan Camillo said. “We struck out 10 times in Game one and six times in Game two. Our pitchers walked 19 batters in all, and our defense committed eight errors.”
The JVs close out the season Thursday at Mexico in a 4:30 p.m. start.
HOMER JVs beat Onondaga 16-10 as winning pitcher Nicole Hotchkiss went 4-for-4 with three doubles and six RBIs while striking out eight batters. Izzy Hart went 2-for-2 for the winners while Kim Duda went 2-for-3 with three RBIs and Cammy Austin went 2-for-4.
The Trojans withstood a seven-run sixth inning by the Tigers to improve to 10-4 heading into today’s 4:30 p.m. home contest with East Syracuse-Minoa.