By Rob Potter
WHITE SULPHUR SPRINGS August 16, 2002 The final game of the Sullivan County Womens Softball League A Division Championship Playoff Series featured plenty of drama.
On Monday night, Perfect 10 defeated Cooper Paint, 19-13, in the first game of the best-of-three series. But on Tuesday night, Cooper Paint beat Perfect 10, 15-3, to force a third and deciding game.
Cooper scored four runs in the top of the seventh inning to defeat Perfect 10 by an 8-7 score Wednesday night in White Sulphur Springs to claim the A Division playoff title.
Heading into that key inning, Perfect 10 had a 7-4 lead and was only three outs away from the championship.
But with one out, Val Fersch singled to begin a rally for Cooper Paint. After Jackie DonVito flew out to right field, Ally McCarthy ripped a triple to center field to score Fersch and make it a 7-5 game.
The next batter, Erin Shuart, then hit a bloop single to center to bring McCarthy across the plate. Pat Shuart then hit the ball just inside the right field line. As the ball rolled to the fence, Erin Shuart scored and Pat Shuart rounded the bases for an inside-the-park home run and an 8-7 Cooper advantage.
Cooper threatened to extend its lead when the next two batters, Nat Cillis and Shirley Felder singled. But Perfect 10 pitcher Amanda Cox got Denise VanKeuren to fly out to left field to end the inning.
In the bottom of the seventh, Perfect 10 put two runners on base as Amanda Irwin was intentionally walked and Charish Priest singled. But Cooper pitcher Cillis got the next two batters, Jacquelynn LaBagh and Barbara Dertinger, to ground out and fly out, respectively, to preserve the win for Cooper.
This was a very well-played game on both sides and thats what you like to see in a final game, said Pat Shuart, who along with Fersch serves as co-coach of the Cooper team. We got some timely hits and played good defense tonight. We were able to put it all together.
Shuart noted that the Cooper Paint team is a combination of three teams that played in the league last season: Cooper, Felders and Frankies. The squad has good mix of veterans and younger players, Shuart said.
The team members finally got accustomed to playing together, she said. And it happened at playoff time, which was great.
Perfect 10 had a potential game-clinching rally in the bottom of the sixth. With the score knotted at 4-4 and one out, Dertinger singled and scored when the next batter, Beth Cogswell, reached on an error.
Two batters later, Rachelle Irwin singled to put runners on the corners. Cox then ripped a double to left center to score both Irwin and Cogswell and give Perfect 10 a 7-4 advantage.
Finishing second in our first year in the league is a great accomplishment, Perfect 10 Player/Coach Cox said. We had a lot of fun this year and are looking forward to next year.
The three-game series allowed each team to earn respect and admiration from the opposition.
We have a lot of respect for their team, Cox said. They came out and played hard and did what they needed to in order to win the game.
They never gave up, they just kept coming back, Shuart said. Theyre a young team thats only going to get better.