Bears 17 Hammond 6
The first Overall Section X Championship Softball game since 1985 was played at a packed Ike Noble Field on Thursday night between the second seeded Hammond Red Devils and the number one seeded Canton Golden Bears. Watertown Times Sports Reporter Cap Cary said: For the first part of Friday’s Section 10 softball overall championship game, the Canton Golden Bears looked more like the “Bad News Bears” from the well-known 1976 Little League baseball movie.
But Canton rallied from a six-run deficit and then got rolling to come away with a 17-6 win. The Class B champion Golden Bears (21-2 overall) gave up two runs in each of the first three innings and made five errors in that span to help Hammond build a 6-0 edge. Canton rallied from a deficit Wednesday as well, beating Class C champion St. Lawrence Central, 5-4, after falling behind 3-0 in the top of the first inning in a semifinal.
“We couldn’t have played much worse in the first three innings,” Canton coach Mike Wentworth said. “We had five errors and Hammond had five runs at one point. We had a little coaching moment after the top of the first but after that I was just trying to stay as positive as I could. Then the girls started to chip away athe the lead. I am so proud of how we battled back. In the bottom of the third I was starting to think about what I was going to say to them after the game if we lost. I am glad I didn’t have to use it. What a great ending to a great season.”
Freshman Ava Hoy, who is 6-foot-3 and started the season on the junior varsity team, turned things around for the Golden Bears offensively and in the pitching circle. Hoy, Canton’s ninth hitter, led off the third with a double to center field, the first hard-hit ball of the game for the Golden Bears. Her double sparked Canton to a five-run inning, cutting the Hammond lead to 6-5.
Huiatt followed the double with a single past third base. Sydnee Francis singled to right and starting pitcher Hadley Alguire singled to left. Natalie Warner followed with another single before Hammond (14-4) finally got out of the inning.
Hoy came in to pitch the top of the fourth and walked her first batter, but then set down seven straight Hammond hitters, a streak broken by a bunt single from Hailey Cunningham in the top of the sixth. “It’s been kind of (a crazy) season,” Hoy said. “It’s just been a lot of fun. I was excited and nervous at the same time. Once I got going I had faith in my teammates.” Hoy struck out eight over the final four innings, with five coming on called third strikes.
“She was really confident and I knew she would just come in and rip it,” said Canton catcher Cate DeCoteau. “I was really excited about that. Both pitchers threw well today I thought. Hadley was throwing well but we had a rough first couple innings behind her. Ava came in at the end and just closed the door”
Canton added to its big third inning with four more runs in the fourth to go ahead 9-6. The Golden Bears took advantage of three errors in that inning. Canton scored six runs in the fifth to extend the lead to 15-6, taking advantage of four hits, a walk and two errors. Huiatt and Francis both finished with three hits for Canton. Alguire, Cate DeCoteau and Lucy DeCoteau all added two. Hailey Cunningham led Hammond with two hits.
Guys like Wayne Willette, Jerry Smiligan, Randy Brown and John Taillon built this program over the years. They should be getting 95% of the credit. Coach Brabaw and I came in with a great group of girls and a great fondation. With athletes like these, we just tried not to screw it up. What a season!” stated Coach Mike Wentworth.
The Bears ended their historic season with a 21-2 Record. Central League Champions, Class B Champions and Overall Section X Champions.