By Rob Potter
GRAHAMSVILLE April 17, 2007 The Onteora softball team evened its record on Saturday while spoiling the season opener for the Tri-Valley Lady Bears.
Behind a strong pitching performance by Dee Shultis, Onteora defeated the host Lady Bears, 5-0, in the non-league game at the Grahamsville Fairgrounds.
The Lady Indians improved their record at 2-2, while T-V fell to 0-1.
Shultis, a sophomore, recorded 12 strikeouts while earning the shutout victory. She allowed just two hits in the contest.
The only T-V players to get a hit off Shultis were Bethany Huebsch and Kayla McNamara.
“We had a lack of aggressiveness in the batter’s box,” T-V Coach Mary Feusner said. “We just didn’t show a lot of confidence in the [batter’s] box today.”
Onteora took a 1-0 advantage in the top of the third inning. Shannon Smith led off with an infield single, then stole second base and third base. After T-V pitcher Gretchen Hartman retired the next two Lady Indians with a strikeout and a groundout, respectively, Becky Shultis singled to center field and Smith scored on the base hit.
The Lady Indians extended their lead in the top of the fifth. With one out, Mallory Cairo singled and Becky Shultis reached base on an error. The next batter, Missy Leighton, ripped a single to center field. Both Cairo and Becky Shultis crossed home plate on the hit, giving their team a 3-0 advantage.
Onteora added a pair of runs in the seventh inning.
Cairo opened the frame with a single to left field. Hartman retired the next two batters with infield pop flies, but Smith reached base with a walk.
Cairo scored when Dee Shultis singled to left field. The next batter, Liz Patterson, ripped a single to left, which enabled Smith to score.
Dee Shultis also tried to score on the hit, but she was tagged out at the plate by Lady Bear catcher Kayla McNamara after a fine throw from left fielder Kayla Scannell.
The outstanding relay from Scannell to McNamara was one of the game’s highlights for the Lady Bears. Another was a spectacular catch by shortstop Karyn Sheeley. In the sixth inning, Dee Shultis smacked a hard line drive towards left field. But Sheeley jumped up and caught the ball in the top of her glove to rob Shultis of at least a single.
Following the game, Onteora Coach Doris Thomas had a great deal of praise for Dee Shultis, who is only a sophomore.
“She is not our regular starting pitcher, but she did very well today,” Thomas said. “Our catcher, Shannon Smith, is not our normal catcher, but she and Dee worked very well together.
“Everybody on our team played well,” Thomas added.
Feusner noted that her team “made some silly errors” versus the Lady Indians.
Those mistakes can probably be attributed to some first-game jitters and the fact that the Lady Bears are a very young team. There are only four seniors on the T-V roster Hartman, McNamara, Kayla Raimundo and Scannell. In addition, two freshmen and an eighth-grader were among the team’s starting infielders on Saturday.
Feusner pointed out that there were some positives for the Lady Bears, including defensive plays like Sheeley’s and the work of Hartman and McNamara.
“We don’t have any complaints about the battery,” Feusner said. “Gretchen pitched well and Kayla did a great job behind the plate.”
The veteran coach noted that her team has plenty of time to improve as the season proceeds.
“We’ll learn from today,” Feusner commented. “We’ll be OK.”