Lucky 13 for Lady Rockets equals Delaware League crossover crown
By Julia Green
Roxbury 9, Margaretville 2
While 13 may have been an unlucky number for the Roxbury Rockets last year, it carries a somewhat different connotation this year.
In an impressive turnaround for the Roxbury softball squad, who went 3-13 last year, the Rockets are 13-2 this season and in possession of their first league title since 2004.
The Rockets faced off with the Margaretville Blue Devils in the Delaware League crossover championship in Stamford on Thursday, besting the nearby rivals 9-2. The Rockets went on the attack early, tallying two runs in the opening inning. They added another run in the third and six more in the fourth, holding Margaretville scoreless all the while.
Roxbury was led by Heather Davie, who tallied six strikeouts and walked only one in the four-hitter. At the plate, the Rockets were paced by catcher Rachel Meckes, who went 3-for-4 and tallied two runs and an RBI. Davie was 2-for-4 and Karly Bolger was 2-for-2 for the Rockets, who out-hit the Blue Devils 9-4.
The Rockets, who enter the sectional tournament as the No. 6 seed, will host 11th-seeded South Kortright at 4:30 p.m. on Friday.
Margaretville secured its spot in the crossover match-up the day before with a 5-4 win over Hunter-Tannersville.
“I was disappointed, but my girls played well,” said Margaretville Head Coach Bill Lonecke. “We had an injury – my shortstop got hit in the face with a ball in about the third or fourth inning and she had to leave the game for awhile and I had to shift some folks around – but that doesn’t take away from the fact that Roxbury played very, very well. They have a great little team and I expect them to go far in sectionals.”
The Blue Devils’ offense was led by first baseman Brandi Balcom, who tallied two hits including a double, and runs were scored by Emily Kelly and Erica Faulkner, but offense was somewhat lacking for Margaretville on Thursday.
“We just couldn’t push runs across,” Lonecke said. “We can hit Roxbury’s pitcher. We’ve done it in the past and we hit her on Thursday. We’d get some men on base and hit the ball right at a defender. We couldn’t punch the ball through and take advantage of our opportunities.”
Still, Lonecke said, he was pleased by his team’s tenacity.
“We stayed in it, even when we fell behind,” he said. “And we fell behind early. But we didn’t give up, we played all seven innings as if we had a chance to win this thing. But my girls have done that all year – as the year’s progressed they’ve gotten much more confident. When things aren’t going our way, they don’t throw their hands up, they put their heads down and work a little harder. Unfortunately, on Thursday, it wasn’t hard enough.”
Now, the Blue Devils are turning their focus toward the upcoming sectional tournament, where they will face host Milford at 4:30 p.m. on Friday in what will be the first match-up of the two teams this season. Milford is 13-2 on the season.
“We need to play good, solid softball,” Lonecke said. “We need to get on the bus in Margaretville and ride over to Milford with the idea that we’re going to win this. Even though they have a much better record than we do, we’re going to give them a run for their money.”
Margaretville 5, Hunter-Tannersville 4
It was close, but it was enough.
The Margaretville Blue Devils posted a 5-4 win over the host <> of Hunter-Tannersville last Wednesday to earn a share of the Upper Delaware league title and earn a trip to the crossover match-up with Roxbury.
“It’s the second year in a row that we’re Upper Delaware league champs, and we had to beat Hunter to do it,” said Margaretville Head Coach Bill Lonecke. “I think they took five years off my life doing it.”
The head-to-head win meant that the Blue Devils would get the opportunity to play for the league championship against Roxbury, despite sharing a 5-4 league record with Hunter.
The Blue Devils were led by Karli Tait, who tallied six strikeouts and only two walks from inside the pitcher’s circle. Tait has over 50 strikeouts this year and fewer than a dozen walks.
“Karli’s pitching as well as she’s pitched all year,” Lonecke said. “She will definitely be one of the pitchers to beat next year in the league, no doubt about it.”
Erica Faulkner keyed the offense, going 2-for-4 with a double.
“That was a great game,” Lonecke said. “Hunter was a tough team for us, and we went in there without any illusions that we were going to walk away with it. We jumped on them early.”
The Blue Devils scored three runs over the first three innings to take a 3-0 lead, but Hunter battled back with a run apiece in the third, fourth, and fifth inning. It was back and forth, with Margaretville tallying two more in the fifth to make it 5-3. Hunter stayed alive, tallying another run in the bottom of the seventh, but it wasn’t enough to steal the lead.
“The girls didn’t roll over and play dead,” Lonecke said. “There was at least one inning where Hunter loaded the bases with nobody out and we got out of the inning without letting them get a run on us. The game ended with a pop fly to my second baseman and everybody came in grinning ear-to-ear. They played very well. As a coach, you could never ask for a better bunch of girls – they play together as a team. Apart from scaring a couple more gray hairs into my head, they’re a great bunch of girls.”