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Democrat Photo by Rob Potter

THE CENTRAL NEW York Shockers won the New York State ASA Women’s 23-and-Under Fast Pitch Tournament over the weekend at Collins Park in Mongaup Valley. om left to right are Allison Montante, Kristen Newton and Brittany Newton. Kneeling behind them are Amanda Butler, left, and Jessie Squire. Standing from left to right are Coach Pat Mineo, Stephanie Festa, Kristen Florkiewicz, Heidi Savage, Amanda Iannello, Assistant Coach Chris Newton, Jennifer Buehler and Assistant Coach Allan Squire.

Utica Team Wins
By One Point

By Rob Potter
MONGAUP VALLEY — July 13, 2004 – After hundreds of pitches and scores of hits, the 2004 New York State ASA Women’s 23-and-Under Fast Pitch Softball Tournament was decided by the narrowest possible margin.
The Central New York Shockers defeated Pro Prospects 1-0 in Sunday’s championship game to capture the first place trophy of the two-day tournament, which was held at Edward M. Collins Memorial Park in Mongaup Valley.
The Shockers, based in Utica, scored what became the winning – and only – run of the title game in the fourth inning. The first batter, Amanda Butler, sent a fly ball to shallow left field. Pro Prospects left fielder Crystal Helmke made an outstanding diving effort to try and catch the ball, but the ball bounced away from Helmke as she hit the turf and rolled over.
Butler made it to second base on the play and moved to third when the next batter, Jessie Squire, bunted and was thrown out at first base.
As Amanda Iannello stood in the batter’s box, a pitch from Pro Prospects hurler Tricia Ritchie bounced off the heel of catcher Beth Fletcher’s glove. Although the ball only bounced a few feet from Fletcher, it was far enough for Butler to sprint home and give the Shockers a 1-0 lead.
Pro Prospects, a team of players from Sullivan and Orange counties that is sponsored by Pro Prospects Baseball Training Center of Monticello, attempted to rally in each of its final three at-bats.
In the bottom of the fifth, Kristin Hosking hit a one-out single to right field. But Shockers pitcher Jennifer Buehler got the next two batters to strike out and ground out, respectively, to end the inning.
Then in the bottom of the sixth, Pro Prospects put two runners on base with only one out as Shannon Dietrich was hit by a pitch and Katie Farrugia followed with a single to right field. Again, Buehler got the next two hitters out to preserve her team’s narrow lead.
With two outs in the bottom of the seventh, pinch-hitter Amelia Devlin ripped a single to right field to fuel Pro Prospects’ hopes of a comeback.
Buehler, however, was again up to the task. She got the next batter, Ritchie, to ground out to second base to end the game.
The Shockers actually had to defeat Pro Prospects in two straight games to win the tournament. Early Sunday afternoon, the Shockers defeated the Rochester Wildfire 4-2 in the final game of the loser’s bracket.
Then in the first possible championship game, the Shockers pounded Pro Prospects by a final score of 15-4. The Shockers broke open a close game by scoring eight runs in the fourth inning. The game was called in the fifth due to the 10-run mercy rule.
With the Shockers up 7-2 in the fourth, Pro Prospects closed the gap by scoring a run. With two outs, Erin Shuart hit a single that allowed Lisa Tufano to score from second base.
But the Shockers responded with those aforementioned eight runs in the bottom of the frame. In that scoring barrage, Allison Montante ripped a two-run double to center field and Stephanie Festa, Butler and Squire added back-to-back-to-back RBIs a few moments later.
“We finally started hitting the ball and we got great pitching performances,” Shockers Coach Pat Mineo replied when asked about the key to winning the tournament. “And Jennifer Buehler and Stephanie Festa both pitched great. They each won two games for us today.”
In addition to their good hitting and pitching, the Shockers also made some good plays in the field.
“This last game, we just played great defense,” Mineo said. “Along with the pitching, that was the key. Of course, pitching is softball.”
Losing by a single run was undoubtedly tough for Pro Prospects, but Coach Dennis Dietrich focused on the positives.
“We tried our best and lost by a run, we can’t be too upset by that,” said Dietrich, who coaches Pro Prospects with Pat Shuart. “I’m very proud of them. We’ll be back.”
Dietrich noted that this is only the second year that Pro Prospects has had a 23-and-under team, which is the most recent classification created by the Amateur Softball Association (ASA).
“I think it’s great that we went out and took second place in the state tournament,” he said.
Notes: The Wildfire and the Monroe Blazers, based in Monroe County, were the other two teams that competed in the tournament. A fifth team, the Adirondack Aces, was scheduled to play in the event. But the Aces did not make the trip to Collins Park because they did not have enough players.
Both the Shockers and Pro Prospects earned invitations to the ASA Women’s 23-and-Under Fast Pitch National Tournament, which is scheduled to be held later this month in Michigan. Following the title game, however, the Pro Prospects players held a team vote and decided not to attend the national tourney.

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