By Rob Potter
FALLSBURG An outstanding pitching performance by Autumn Ackermann and a balanced offensive attack carried the Sullivan West Lady Bulldogs to a 24-0 win over the host Fallsburg Lady Comets on Friday afternoon in an Orange County Interscholastic Athletic Association (OCIAA) Division IV softball game.
The game was halted after five innings due to the 15-run rule.
Ackermann, a junior, gave up only one hit and struck out nine batters. Senior catcher Colleen Chudik led the Lady Bulldogs offense by going 3-for-3 with a home run and a double.
SW (6-9, 4-1 Div. VI) wasted little time in taking the lead. The first batter of the game, Lindsey Bauer, belted an offering from Lady Comets’ pitcher Becky Courtney deep into the outfield. Bauer sprinted around the bases for an inside-the-park home run to give the Lady Bulldogs a 1-0 advantage.
SW loaded the bases later in the inning, but Courtney prevented any further damage by inducing two fly outs to end the frame.
However, the Lady Bulldogs added to their lead in the top of the second inning. Julianne Reggero hit a bloop single to center field to score Danielle Meyer. Three batters later, Katerina Gaebel hit a sacrifice fly which allowed Gabrielle Humleker to cross the plate and give SW a 3-0 advantage.
In the top of the third, the Lady Bulldogs scored 11 runs to take a commanding 14-0 lead.
With Hannah Schwatz on base, Chudik blasted a two-run, inside-the-park home run to center field. Moments later, Meyer scored on Bauer’s infield hit.
Gaebel extended SW’s advantage to 10-0 when she hit a three-run, inside-the-park homer to left field. Chudik’s single to right field scored Schwatz, who had doubled. Chudik then crossed the plate on an error to make a 12-0 game.
Meyer and Humleker scored the final two runs of the frame on a passed ball and wild pitch, respectively.
Fallsburg (0-14, 0-5 Div. IV) had its best opportunity to get on the scoreboard in the bottom of the third. Celia Garcia began the inning by reaching base on an infield hit. After Ackermann struck out the next Lady Comet batter, Susan Moody drew a walk to put two runners on base. The next batter, Becky Courtney, grounded out. But Garcia and Moody were able to move up to third base and second base, respectively, on the play.
Stefani Benjamin then walked to load the bases. But SW quickly got out of trouble. Cassie Orlan hit a dribbler a few feet in front of the plate. Ackermann sprinted to the ball, grabbed it with her glove and then stepped on home plate to force out Garcia and end the inning.
After a scoreless fourth inning, the Lady Bulldogs added 10 runs in the top of the fifth. Key hits in the frame included a pair of RBI singles by Reggero, an RBI single by Joanna Trujillo, an RBI single by Bauer, a two-run single by Ackermann and a two-run double by Ruby Wheaton.
“We had a tough week,” said SW Coach Mike Ellmauer, referring to his team’s two non-league losses to Port Jervis last Monday and Tuesday. “We just ran into a buzzsaw.”
Naturally, Ellmauer was happy to see the Lady Bulldogs bounce back with a win against the Lady Comets.
“Autumn did a great job pitching and we hit the ball really well today,” he said. “It was a good team effort.”
Ellmauer noted that with the win, SW clinched a spot in the upcoming Section IX Class B Tournament. And depending on how they fare in their three remaining division games against Fallsburg, Liberty and John S. Burke Catholic High School, the Lady Bulldogs have a chance to win the Div. IV title.
Fallsburg Coach Kate Yaun managed to find some silver linings in the cloud of defeat.
“We made two great defensive plays to turn two double plays,” she said. “Our two pitchers, Becky Courtney and Celia Garcia, did OK. Cassie Orlan had a couple of nice catches in center field and our shortstop, Stefani Benjamin, played well.
“All of the girls on the team are definitely making progress as the season goes on,” Yaun added.