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Sports Archives — The Altamont Enterprise, April 21, 2011

Hitting spree in Guilderland on Tuesday lights up both pitchers

By Jordan J. Michael

GUILDERLAND –– Dominant pitching has been a popular trend in softball for years, but a new rule –– moving the rubber back three feet –– has made it easier for batters to hit the ball. Guilderland and Shenendehowa shed light on the new rule on Tuesday, combining for 19 hits and 18 runs.

Batters cranked pitches all afternoon as a light rain fell for most of the game. Guilderland’s Cori Hilt and Shen’s Cameron Sprague both threw complete games, but this was not a pitchers’ day.

Hilt was great at the plate, hitting two separate first-pitch singles and scoring a run in the fifth inning to tie the game at 7 to 7. However, the senior didn’t look too pleased with her pitching performance after the 11-to-7 loss, one day removed from an 8-to-0 loss to Colonie.

“They’re really good at hitting the ball,” Hilt said of Shenendehowa. She pitched five innings against Colonie on Monday. “We made some stupid errors.”

Defense may have been an issue for the Lady Dutch, but there was nothing wrong with the bats. Twin sisters Morgan and Taylor Ten Eyck each hit a home run. Taylor belted a three-run home run in the first inning and Morgan brought home two runs in the fourth inning with her deep hit.

Guilderland had eight hits on Tuesday after hitting only one time against Colonie, the top team in the Suburban Council. The Dutch have struggled with offensive production in recent years.

“Everyone worked hard on their hitting and it’s been showing,” Head Coach Beth Ray said of her players. “They’re glad to be finding success with the bats. They’re excited to be hitting a lot more than in the past.”

The pitching rubber has been moved from 40 to 43 feet away from the batter’s box for the 2011 softball season. Now, the ball isn’t traveling as fast when it gets to the plate, allowing for more hits and less strikeouts during a game.

“The pitcher can’t dominate as much anymore,” said Ray, who coached from third base on Tuesday despite being seven months pregnant. “I think that extra three feet gives the batter enough time.”

Mallery Harrigan singled and Jenna Cubello doubled, letting Hilt score to bring Guilderland even with Shenendehowa in the fifth inning. But the Dutch left the bases loaded in both the second and fifth innings.

“We definitely put enough runners on base to win this game,” Ray said. “I brought the girls in early for some batting practice.”

Ray told The Enterprise that the umpire’s strike zone was “really small,” forcing the game into a high-scoring affair. “I think Cori got frustrated with that,” said Ray. “She was forced into putting the ball over the middle.”

The umpire called the strike zone both ways, consistently. Hilt and Sprague each got lit up and had to deal with a fairly wet ball.

“I’m just glad that we have our bats this year,” Hilt said. “We’ll continue to work on our defense.”

Guilderland has a full schedule this week while school is closed for spring vacation. The team played Schenectady on Wednesday, goes to Ballston Spa today, and travels to Troy on Friday. That’s five straight days of games and no real time for practice.

“This doesn’t really allow for me to pull the girls aside to work on things,” Ray said of the busy game schedule. “Although, they’re varsity athletes that have been around long enough to be familiar with what I want.”

With a baby on the way, standing at third base could be a risk factor for the coach while the Lady Dutch are batting. Asked about extra padding for protection, Ray said, “I should just stand in the dugout.”

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