Talk about your unexpected results.
In a meeting of two programs that annually rank among the best in New York in Class C, Thomas A. Edison scored 11 runs in the top of the fifth inning and beat Elmira Notre Dame, 15-0, in an Interscholastic Athletic Conference softball game Wednesday afternoon.
The game was called after the bottom of the fifth because of the 15-run mercy rule. Crusaders head coach Steve Weber said it was the first time his team was on the wrong end of the mercy rule since 2004, when nationally ranked Chambersburg (Pa.) beat Notre Dame, 17-5, and a 10-run rule came into play after five innings.
“I didn’t expect that,” said Edison coach Becky Cooper, expressing a view shared by most everyone at the Crusaders’ home field. “I expected the first couple of innings to be exactly like they were: a nice, tight ballgame.
“This is only our third time outside on a field and only our second game, so there’s a lot of nerves going into this game. Our motto this year is ‘team together.’ It takes all of them to win a ballgame. Everyone had hits, everyone was moving along.”
Edison (2-0) ended up with 14 hits and took advantage of four Crusaders errors. Dannielle Callear was 3-for-4 with six RBIs, including a three-run double that gave the Spartans a 4-0 lead in the third inning.
Michelle Woychak and pitcher Mckenzie Slaven each added three singles for the Spartans, who moved up to the Large School Division after winning the last two IAC Small School titles. Notre Dame is the five-time defending Large School champion.
Three of the Crusaders’ errors came in the 11-run fifth, which included eight hits by the Spartans.
“There are a lot of things we really need to find out about ourselves as a team,” Weber said. “We’ve been struggling defensively this year. It’s continued to happen. I don’t know if we don’t have people in the right places or what the situation is right now. We just don’t look real, real good in the field.
“We’ve had a couple of scrimmages that looked the same way, so it’s not like the first time we saw this this year. We’re playing really timid and I don’t understand that. We’re not playing like a typical Notre Dame team right now.”
Along with the errors, Notre Dame’s defense gave up some hits that should have been routine outs. Edison gave Notre Dame’s infield trouble with bunts and slap hits.
“We took advantage of their miscues with the slapping. That really played in our favor today,” Cooper said.
In contrast, the Spartans played errorless defense behind Slaven, who surrendered four hits, no walks and struck out four.
“Our pitch selection wasn’t always good with what we were hitting at, but I thought their pitcher threw real well,” Weber said.
Said Cooper: “Mckenzie dug down deep today. She doesn’t rattle easily. She really kept her confidence well today. She was working on her spots really well and she has confidence in the girls behind her. She’s learning that, too. Let them field the ball because we can field them. Our outfield is really strong.”
With tough games against Newark Valley and Waverly left this week, Cooper said Wednesday’s win gives the Spartans confidence going forward. Notre Dame, on the other hand, must find a way to return to form.
“We have a long way to go if we want to be a good team. We really do,” Weber said. “Maybe it will come this year, maybe it won’t. It’s kind of hard to tell right now. We’ve got a lot of new kids.
“We had (Olivia) May on the mound last year striking out 14 or 15 a game. We only had five or six balls put in play. Our pitchers are throwing well. They’re giving up ground balls and stuff like that, we’re just not making the plays behind them right now.”