Devils stun Rockets to claim Delaware softball crown

By Julia Green
Third time’s a charm? It certainly was for the Margaretville Blue Devils, who trounced the Roxbury Rockets 12-1 in the Delaware League title game on Thursday at SUNY Oneonta. It marked the third match-up of the season between the two teams, and the first Margaretville victory over the Rockets. It was also a rematch of last year, when the Blue Devils and the Rockets faced off in the 2009 crossover game.
“If they played like that all year, we’d have been 15-0,” said Margaretville Head Coach Bill Lonecke, whose team finished the regular season 9-6 overall. “I can’t say enough good about them; it was a great ball game. They played together as a team, we made very few mistakes and capitalized on the mistakes the other team made.”
The Blue Devils struck early and often, putting up their first points in the top of the first inning following a single by sophomore Amy Filupeit and a triple to center field by senior Erica Faulkner.
Olivia Todd made it to third base on a ground ball, which was fielded by Briana George and caught Faulkner in a pickle between third and home. A hit to right field by Jess Barringer brought Todd home to make it 2-0.
Margaretville held Roxbury scoreless in the bottom of the first, and neither team scored any runs in the second, but the Blue Devils cracked it open in the third, when they scored five runs.
“I wasn’t so sure until the top of the third,” Lonecke said. “We went down 1, 2, 3 in the second, but Danielle was pitching well. I don’t believe in premonitions, but when the girls came in after getting Roxbury out 1, 2, 3 in the second, I knew the ball game was ours.”
They continued the scoring onslaught in the fourth inning, when two fielding errors by the Rockets’ defense allowed Faulkner and Todd to reach base once again, and Barringer tallied another RBI to score Faulkner. A pop-up by Blue Devil pitcher Danielle Hull scored Todd to make it 9-0 in Margaretville’s favor.
A stingy Margaretville defense continued to shut out the Rockets’ offense, and the Blue Devils returned to the plate in the top of the fifth inning to add three more runs to the tally.
“Every inning when we came in, I told them, ‘This is a 0-0 ball game. We need hits, we need runs, nobody lets up,’” Lonecke said. “And that’s how we played it.”
Roxbury Head Coach Jane Ware referred to Thursday’s game as simply “a rough day.”
“It’s just one of those games,” she said. “They happen. It wasn’t important, and you go on. It was a learning experience and it just wasn’t our day. These are young kids, they’re not professionals, and if something shakes them, it shakes them. We’re in sectionals; you don’t get anywhere by dwelling on the past.”
The Blue Devils’ defense finally showed some chinks in its armor in the bottom of the sixth inning, committing three infield errors that allowed the Rockets to post their lone run of the day.
Faulkner committed an error fielding a grounder by Heather Davie; the subsequent throw to first was high, allowing Davie to take second. A grounder by Sydney Peters was mishandled by Hull to put runners at the corners, and Davie scored on a sac fly by Brittney Keator that left fielder Christine Kelly snagged on the run.
“You could see Erica bobble that ball,” Lonecke said. “Erica doesn’t do that; she doesn’t bobble those balls, doesn’t usually make high throws to first base, and Danielle’s a great fielding pitcher. But they made two errors and then called a time out. That’s what I love about Amy [Filupeit] as a catcher: she’ll take control of the ball game. They came back in and got the next three girls out and that was the end of the inning.”
A key to the Blue Devils’ successful offense was their ability to lay off the high pitches; in earlier matches between the teams, Davie’s considerable speed made Margaretville batters commit to pitches that were upstairs. On Thursday, however, they made her earn the strikeouts.
Davie gave up 12 hits, walked five and tallied three strikeouts for Roxbury. Hull struck out eight, walked three and allowed just three hits for the Blue Devils.
“Heather Davie is a great pitcher,” Lonecke said. “She’s hittable, but she’s a great pitcher, and we just capitalized on their fielding miscues and we got around on the ball. They’re a great ball team; it just got away from them.”
The Blue Devils, who enter the Section IV Class D tournament seeded 10th, will face seventh-seeded Milford at Milford at 4:30 p.m. on Thursday. The fifth-seeded Rockets will host No. 12 Franklin at 4:30 on Thursday.
If the teams advance, they will play their second round games on Tuesday, June 1. Margaretville’s game would be against second-seeded Schenevus at Schenevus; Roxbury’s second round game would be against the winner of the Jefferson/Edmeston match-up and would be played at a site to be determined.
“It’s the exact same team and the exact same position as last year,” said Lonecke, whose squad fell to Milford 4-3 in the bottom of the seventh inning in last year’s sectional match-up. “Pitching and defense are going to be key, and if we can play with even 75 percent of the intensity we played with last Thursday, we get to go to Schenevus in the next round. I think we’re ready to take them; I think we’re ready to play softball.
“I told the girls at the beginning of the season we’d win our half of the league and go back to the crossover if we played one out at a time, one inning at a time, and that’s how we played Thursday. They rose right up and played one heck of a ball game, and I’m hoping for the same intensity Thursday.”
A tourney bracket is available online at the Section IV website at sectionivathletics.com.