BINGHAMTON — After topping Windsor in the Section IV Class B softball semifinal on Friday, senior pitcher Wendi Hammond said that it was one more step toward the team’s goal.
After beating Susquehanna Valley, ranked third in the latest New York State Sports Writer’s Association poll 2-1 on Saturday, her take was the same.
“It’s one more step toward our next goal; state champions,” Hammond said.
In order to do that, the Wolverines will have to go through the Section III champion at 5:30 p.m. Friday at Carrier Park in East Syracuse.
“We beat a program that is traditionally the team to beat in Class B,” said Waverly Coach Brian Wendela. “It’s been three years in the making. We’ve been on the other side of it 1-0 and 2-1. It’s good to be back on top.
“For the first time in Waverly history, we have a Section IV championship under our belts. I’m so proud of the girls. They’ve worked hard for it, and I think we deserved to be the winner (Saturday).”
“This is big,” said Hammond. “It’s the first time on program history we’ve ever had a sectional title. After falling short the last two years, to come out on top in my senior year feels great.”
After out-dueling Susquehanna Valley ace Alex Deeter, fanning 13 and hitting a solo home run to get Waverly’s offense on track, it would be easy to say that the game was all about Hammond.
She had plenty of help on this day. Hammond’s solo shot came in the top of the sixth with her team down 1-0. Deeter was trying to be careful. When she ran the count to 3-2, she went back to the same pitch she had used in the first inning to get Hammond to strike out. This time, though, Hammond was waiting for it.
“She gave me a lot of changeups,” said Hammond. “In my first two at bats I got tons of changeups. I just knew going up for my third at bat that I needed to sit on the changeup and be prepared for it.”
Prepared she was. Her drive to left landed easily over the wall to tie the game at 1-1.
“I was just so happy,” said Hammond of her feelings when she saw the ball clear the fence. “I knew that we brought the momentum with it.”
The Wolverines weren’t done. Hali Jenner lined a shot to the fence in center for a double and Riley Hall added an RBI single to left. Deeter got out of the inning after that but the damage was done.
Susquehanna Valley, which dropped the 2018 state final to Ichabod Crane, had two more at bats to make something happen. Madison Tuttle singled on a dribbler out in front of the plate with two outs in the sixth. Hammond induced a grounder to short for the third out of that inning and simply overpowered the three batters the Sabers sent up in the seventh.
Deeter ended the day with eight strikeouts in a four-hitter. Many of those came on a devastating change that kept Waverly’s hitters off balance for the first four innings.
The team talked about what she was doing and made some adjustments.
“We really harped on the changeups,” said Hammond. “She throws them with any count.”
That was the pitch that Hall lined to left.
“We knew how to adjust,” said Hall, who noted that the team was sitting on Deeter’s fastball early in the game. “We were expecting changeups, and we knew what to do with them. When we saw her changeup over and over again, we knew what was coming.
“(Seeing the ball leave the infield) was amazing. I saw Hali hit third and I was gone.”
Susquehanna Valley scored in the bottom of the fourth inning. Deeter started it with a double to left. Her smash went through the glove of third baseman Hali Jenner. The ball was on Jenner way too fast for her to have any realistic chance to stop it. She did slow it down. That made the outfielder take longer to get to the ball and turned a single into a double. Then the Sabers played small ball. A sacrifice bunt sent Deeter to third and another sent her home.
Paige Lewis had Waverly’s other hit with a fourth-inning single.
Ava Spottek had a single for the Sabers.