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JEFFERSONVILLE, NY — By all accounts—just ask the players and the fans who showed up in support of their respective teams—it was a perfect afternoon for football.
Except it was an early season varsity softball game between the home team Sullivan West Lady Bulldogs (0-2) and the Lady Yellowjackets of Eldred (2-0).
A bone-chilling wind blowing across the field had the players huddling in the dugouts, fans breaking out a few scarce blankets and cups of hot chocolate flying off the stands.
When it rains it often pours.
And that was the forecast on Wednesday, April 10 when Eldred unleashed a deluge of four runs in the top of the first frame, added three in the second and pounded out an additional three in the third, taking a 10-0 lead going into the bottom of the fifth inning.
Sullivan West posted three at their turn at the plate in the fifth to make it a 10-3 ballgame.
The Lady Yellowjackets replied with a couple of runs in the sixth, while the home team rallied with three runs in the final frame.
The final score of the non-league game: Eldred 12 runs on 5 hits, Sullivan West 6 runs on 5 hits.
Sullivan West’s freshman pitcher Riley Ernst started her first varsity game, and, late in the game, helped her own cause by slashing a triple.
After five years as an assistant coach, Rick Whitney is in his first year at the helm of Eldred’s varsity softball squad. “Today we hit and fielded the ball very well, considering the weather,” he said, adding of the fledgling season of swats, “So far I’m very happy.”
“Get better with the other pitchers, and throw a no-hitter...” — Dana Donnelly
The Lady Yellowjackets have six seniors on the roster: Mickaela Gulla, Hannah Jennings, Hailee Kolvenbach, Morgan Kopf, Kelsey Morgan and Taylor McNeill, and are captained by Morgan and Jennings.
“We lost a really good infield to graduation… We’re trying to replace them,” said Whitney.
Eldred’s battery is a bit on the young side, as both their pitcher and catcher on Wednesday’s outing were 14-year old 9th graders.
At the end of the day, the freshman duo proved they were up to the challenge. Along with some timely hits, smart base running and spirited play in the infield by the rest of the team, the visitors posted their second consecutive win of the new season.
Eldred’s catcher, Lily Gonzalez, said of the game and the weather, “I think we did good, it was really cold.” Asked about goals for the season, she replied, ”Improve our hitting.”
Dana Donnelly was up on the mound for the Lady Yellowjackets. Personal goals for the year? “Get better with the other pitchers, and throw a no-hitter,” she said, adding, “My infield was so good today, they did a phenomenal job.”
Mike Ellmauer is in his 37th year as varsity softball coach at Sullivan West. His take on non-league games as opposed to league contests? “We’re looking at these [non-league] games for experience, and do the best we can… We’re looking forward to league games,” he said. And of Wednesday’s loss to the Lady Yellowjackets? “Eldred came out fired up, made a couple of really good defensive plays and took the wind out our sails. We were down 0-4 after the first.”
The Lady Bulldogs have five seniors on the team: Jenna Kratz, Josephine Martinez, Sabrina Martinez, Isabel Nearing and Allison Unser, and are lead on the field by captains “Izzy” Nearing and Josephine Martinez.
Looking up at the cloudy sky as the wind continued to whip across the field, and the sports scribblers and his team headed for cover, Ellmauer said, “We’re a work in progress, we’ll see what happens.”