Cady Walts knew well in advance that she was going to pitch a good game for the Cortland high softball team against visiting Fulton in Friday’s section 3 Class A quarterfinal game on SUNY Cortland’s Dragon Field.
“I warmed up pretty bad,” Walts said with a laugh, “and usually when I warm up bad, I pitch pretty good.”
That was certainly the case against the seventh-seeded Red Raiders, as the right-hander threw a complete-game five-hitter with no walks and eight strikeouts to help the No. 2 Purple Tigers improve to 13-3 and earn a berth in Sunday’s 5 p.m. semifinals at Onondaga CC. There, they were to face No. 3 Whitesboro, which improved to 17-4 Friday with a 21-0 quarterfinal romp over No. 11 Central Valley Academy in a five-inning mercy rule game.
Walts gave up two of the five hits she allowed, and the only run, in the top of the first inning before CHS came back to even the score in the bottom of the frame. The Purple Tigers then scored three runs each in the third and fourth innings as Walts gained confidence.
In fact, starting with the final out of the first inning she retired 13 batters in a row. A double play on a line drive eliminated that base-runner, and Fulton did come up with two hits in the seventh and had runners on second and third with one out before an infield flyout and a strikeout ended the game.
“If we can get on the board early, it always helps,” Walts said. “There’s a lot less stress for me when we have a lead.”
“Cady had good control,” CHS coach Nicole Latham said. “It was good team effort; everyone played sold across the board. It was in to see it all come together.
We got a good game from Kaci Olson, our freshman first baseman starting her first game in place of (junior) Taylor Hart, who’s been injured but will be available tomorrow.
“Thanks go to SUNY Cortland for letting us play here (with Meldrim Field unplayable). It was awesome.”
“She’s a good pitcher,” Fulton coach Derek Lyons said of Walts after his team closed out the season at 8-10. “You have to get the ball in play, and we struck out too many times. In the field, when you know it’s a close one you can tighten up a little.
That’s what happened to us. Then at bat you start to take big swings, and a pitcher like that will put it by you.”
Third baseman Brittney Alton singled to right with one out in the first, went to second as the throw back in went awry and scored on a single to center by shortstop Madison Gilmore.
Cortland didn’t take long to equalize. Left fielder Pearl Hettich led off with a bloop single down the right field line, went to second on a passed ball and third on a groundout and came home when third baseman Kacie Hubbard singled to right.
Hettich also led off the decisive third inning with a single, this one to left, and went to second on a groundout before Walts helped herself by singling to center to bring Hettich home and taking second on the late throw. Hubbard then doubled to right to score Walts, and after a groundout came home on an infield error to make it 4-1.
Hettich ended up going 2-for-3 and scoring twice while Hubbard went 2-for-3 with the double, two RBIs and a run scored.
“I was fired up and nervous all day,” Hubbard said, “but once the game started I knew what I needed to do. We only beat them by 4-2 the last time April 18 (at Fulton), and this time we wanted to pound it, no mercy.”
It started looking like that for the Purple Tigers in the fourth. Olson led off with a single to center before right fielder Leah Romer laid down a sacrifice bun and it was misplayed, putting runners on second and third. Hettich then walked, ball four a wild pitch that allowed Olson to score and put runners on second and third. After Romer was tagged out at home on a fielder’s choice by shortstop Sarah Boyce, a wild pitch scored Hettich. Walts then reached on an error to bring Boyce home with the game’s final run.
Today’s Class A semifinal matched top-seeded Jamesville-DeWitt (15-4) against No. 4 Camden (13-7). The Red Rams beat CHS 17-2 and 9-1 this season, and Walts said that “We’re happy to advance, but I’d rather not see them.”
Hubbard said that “It would be nice to get revenge and beat them in the finals. Still, while we can beat any team, J-D gets in our heads.”
“That’s who I want,” Latham said when asked about the possibility of facing J-D again. “It’s a love-hate relationship, and great competition. I’d love to see them in the finals.”