By Rob Potter
GRAHAMSVILLE An excellent pitching performance by freshman Samantha Cohn and a six-run outburst in the bottom of the third inning led the Monticello Lady Panthers to a 10-0 win over the Tri-Valley Lady Bears on Saturday afternoon in the championship game of the first annual Benny Chesnick Memorial Softball Tournament.
It marked the fourth time Monticello has earned the first place trophy at the tourney, which was formerly known as the Sullivan County Softball Officials Tournament. The Lady Panthers victory ended T-V’s four-year run of first-place finishes.
The tournament began in 1991, but was rained out that year. It was also canceled due to rain in 1997 and not played in 1992 and 1995. But the event has been held every year since 1998.
Monticello (5-2) broke open a scoreless game with six runs in the bottom of the third inning. Taylor Reardon and Kate Oldfield began the frame with back-to-back singles.
After T-V (1-5) recorded an out, Reardon and Oldfield moved up to third base and second base, respectively, on a wild pitch. They both scored when the next batter, Paige Schoonmaker, reached base on an error.
Schoonmaker scored moments later when Cohn hit an infield grounder and the throw to the plate to get Schoonmaker was errant.
With two outs and the bases loaded, Shannon Reese singled to center field to score Caitlin Bonnaci and Alissa Hermida and give the Lady Panthers a 5-0 advantage.
Later in the inning, Jamie Vandermuelen crossed home plate on Oldfield’s infield hit.
Monticello scored four more runs in the bottom of the fourth inning.
With one out and Schoonmaker and Bonnaci on base, Hermida ripped a single to center field. Schoonmaker and Bonnaci both scored on the base hit, which pushed the Lady Panthers’ lead to 8-0.
After stealing second base, Hermida scored when Vandermuelen singled to center field.
Krista Mangabang scored the final run of the game moments later. She reached base on a walk and crossed the plate on an error.
Cohn allowed just three hits and recorded two strikeouts while earning the win. She set the Lady Bears down in order in the top of the fifth with three infield ground balls.
The game ended at that point because of the 10-run mercy rule.
“We had some timely hits which allowed us to score some runs,” Monticello Coach Ed Kaufmann said. “Sam Cohn pitched very well today. We played good defense behind her.
“It was a good team effort today,” Kaufmann added.
The Lady Panthers’ veteran leader also praised Vandermuelen, the team’s sophomore catcher.
“She is continuing to improve this spring,” Kaufmann said. “She is blocking the plate and keeping the ball in front of her.”
“We didn’t get the hits when we needed to and Monticello did,” T-V Coach Mary Feusner said. “We have three JV kids playing with us today. In fact, all but four of our players were on the JV team last year.
“Lauren Jones is pitching well for us,” Feusner added. “And our fifth-year shortstop Karyn Sheeley has been a key player for us in every game this season.”
Notes: Monticello reached the title game with an 8-1 victory over the Eldred Lady Yellowjackets in the opening round.
In the other opening round game, T-V rallied to defeat Roscoe, 9-8.
Down 8-7 entering the bottom of the seventh, the Lady Bears scored twice to edge the Lady Blue Devils. Samantha Martin began the inning with a single and Brit Rennison walked. Williams then singled to score both Martin and Rennison.
“We were down from the get go,” Feusner said. “We were behind 4-0 after the first inning and 8-1 after the second. I think Roscoe got a little complacent with that lead and we were able to rally for the win.”
In the third-place game, Eldred defeated Roscoe (0-4), 13-3.
Alexis Pierce pitched five innings to earn the win for Eldred (2-4).
Pierce, who struck out three batters, had plenty of offensive support from her teammates. Heather Ouellette had a home run and a double and Rachel Hofaker hit a double. In addition, Maxine Ellert, Steph Compasso, Sam Ferguson and Lauren Hazen each hit a single.
During the postgame awards ceremony, Dan Baldo spoke on behalf of his fellow members of the Sullivan County Softball Officials Association. He noted how they all missed Chesnick and admired his dedication to the association for decades.
“I first met Benny back in 1963 when he was umpiring a game,” Baldo said. “Benny was umpiring then and he was umpiring last year until he passed away in the fall.”