By Rob Potter
HIGHLAND June 1, 2007 The Sullivan West Lady Bulldogs took their first step toward the Section IX Class B softball championship game on Tuesday afternoon.
SW, the fifth seed in the Class B tourney, defeated the host and fourth-seeded Highland Lady Huskies, 8-1, in a quarterfinal game at Highland High School.
With the victory, SW (7-9) advanced to the semifinals to face No. 1 Pine Plains. The Lady Bulldogs were slated to play at Pine Plains yesterday afternoon.
The Lady Bulldogs grabbed the lead in the second inning and held it throughout the contest.
With two outs, Cara Davies singled to right field. The next batter, Sarah Lander, ripped a double to deep right center field and Davies scored on the hit.
SW added a run in the third when Ginger Pierce, who reached base on a walk, scored on a triple by Kristen Niemann.
The Lady Bulldogs took a 6-0 lead in the top of the fifth.
Pierce scored on a base hit by Stephanie Meyer and Niemann scored on a hit by Rachel Houghtaling.
Davies then singled to center field, allowing both Meyer and Houghtaling to cross home plate.
Highland (11-7) recorded its only run of the afternoon in the bottom of the fifth. The first batter of the frame, Megan Murphy, walked and advanced to second base on a fielder’s choice groundout.
With two outs, Murphy was still at second base and teammate Chrisi Morano was on first base. Kacie DeMaio then singled to left field, allowing Murphy to score.
DeMaio and Morano were on second and third base, respectively, when SW pitcher, Lander, induced a fly ball out to end the inning and hold the Lady Huskies to one run.
The Lady Bulldogs scored twice in the top of the seventh on RBI singles by Houghtaling and Davies.
Highland tried to rally in the bottom of the seventh, putting two runners on base with two outs.
It looked as though the Lady Huskies would score at least one run in the inning when DeMaio singled to left field.
But a great throw from the Lady Bulldogs’ left fielder, Morgan Edwards, allowed Niemann to tag out Jenna D’Ercole at home plate to end the game in dramatic fashion.
“We played a good game,” SW Coach Mike Ellmauer said. “It was a good team effort. All of these kids played great today.”
Ellmauer noted that the Lady Bulldogs did a great job in three key elements of the game: hitting, pitching and defense.
Lander picked up the win, allowing only three hits while striking out five and walking five.
Davies was 3-for-4 with three singles, Niemann was 2-for-3 with an RBI and Houghtaling went 1-for-3 with two RBIs.
“The credit goes to Sullivan West,” Highland Coach Mike Milliman said. “They played great. Their pitcher, Lander, did a good job.
“As the old saying goes, they hit the ball where we weren’t and we hit it where they were,” he added.