Eli Ruiz | Democrat
Livingston Manor’s Meg Edwards braces for a fastball from Afton pitcher Cassidy Phillips during the state Class D regional final Tuesday at Minisink Valley. Afton blanked the Lady Wildcats 13-0.
Story by Eli Ruiz
MINISINK VALLEY June 7, 2013 A rash of Wildcat errors, a long day on the mound for Katie Rau and little offense doomed an overmatched Livingston Manor in a 13-0 loss at the hands of Binghamton area powerhouse Afton in a state softball Class D quarterfinal in Slate Hill Tuesday.
The state’s No. 1-ranked Class D team pounced on Manor right out of the box, scoring four runs in the first en route to the easy shutout victory. Afton (22-1), which earlier in the season defeated Section V Class A champion Maine-Endwell and Class B semifinalist Chenango Valley, moved one game closer to its sixth state championship since 1995.
Afton's Cassidy Philips got the win, retiring 12 of 13 batters, teaming up with Payton Cutting to shut down the Lady Wildcat bats. The duo combined to allow just one Wildcat hit an Imani Miranda single in the fourth inning in a fast moving but long game for Livingston Manor (8-9).
“We just ran into a very, very good number one-ranked team,” said Livingston Manor co-coach Kevin Clifford. “I think maybe we were just a little too awed at their ability and all that they can actually do out there. They did it defensively; they did it with their bats just a very well rounded team.
“We do play some good teams throughout the season, but we haven't seen a team so well-rounded with that kind of speed and ability all year.”
Afton wasted no time behind Cutting, Connor Decker, Bailey Sherman and Ashley Rogalski, scoring four runs in a first inning in which they sent 10 batters to the plate. Afton would add six runs to its tally in the third, closing the stanza with a commanding 11-0 lead.
“I think they [Livingston Manor] got down after that first inning,” offered Afton coach Cindy Bostelman. “She [Rau] had to face a lot of batters there and we were able to capitalize on some key mistakes.
“We came to play today,” said Bostelman. “Cassidy and Payton were outstanding today. They work hard, they have all season.”
A two-run double from Sherman in the fifth would round out the scoring for Afton.
“As a defensive unit we worked really hard today and it showed,” said Cutting. “It was our focus today, but the offensive production obviously didn't hurt,” added the senior, who, besides an RBI triple, also struck out five batters in just three innings of work. Phillips finished with three hits while Sherman and Rogelski had two apiece for Afton (22-1). Freshman Connor Decker was 3-for-3 with two runs and four RBI.
With 16 consecutive Section 4 titles between 1995-2010, the Crimson Knights move on to face Section 3 champ Hamilton (21-2) tomorrow in a semifinal game in Queensbury.
The Livingston Manor loss follows an emotional 10-9 win over Chapel Field in the Section IX Class D championship game last Saturday in Slate Hill. Manor entered that game down four runs in the final inning.
Regarding his freshman pitcher Rau, Clifford sees a bright future.
“We really just made some mistakes behind her,” said Clifford. “They were really good hitters and she [Rau] hit her spots, but they were just getting them and the balls were just dropping in.
“She started for us as an eighth grader last season and pitched at least half of our games; even in our regional game against Deposit. She's solid. When she wasn't pitching she was playing at short-stop for us. She's a great athlete with a lot of ability and she's still very young. You should hear her name a lot.”