5 Jun 2011
Valley Central rallies early for Class AA championship
SLATE HILL — Valley Central's big second inning on Saturday didn't start with a double to the gap or a hard-hit single.
It began with one out, when Danielle Bitts reached first on an error by Kingston second baseman Karlie Stefanowicz. That started a five-run outburst, and top-seeded Valley Central was on its way to a second consecutive Section 9 Class AA championship with a 7-0 win over Kingston at Minisink Valley.
Valley Central (19-3) will play John Jay-East Fishkill in an opening-round Class AA state playoff game at 5:30 p.m. on Monday at Minisink Valley.
"Coach tells us any way you can get on base," said Bitts, a senior who will play at Hofstra next year. "I'm not always looking for the big hit. I'm looking for any way to start my team up. That's what we did today."
For Valley Central, the five-run second was just what it needed against second-seeded Kingston. The Vikings earned two one-run wins over Kingston (15-5) during the regular-season, by scores of 3-2 and 5-4, though Valley Central trailed 4-0 entering the seventh inning in the second meeting.
In Round 3, Bitts set the stage for the deluge, reaching on an error by the normally sure-fielding Stefanowicz in the second. Alex Hraniotis, Cindy Connoly, C.J. Kohler, Sarah Connoly and Taylor Concklin followed with consecutive singles, with Kohler, Sarah Connoly and Concklin driving in runs.
Maggie Cocks added a two-run single in the second, chasing Kingston starter Ashley Cruise after 12/3 innings.
"By the time I got up, (Kingston) was already down on themselves," Concklin said. "I saw it in the pitcher's face, in her emotions. I knew the first pitch I was going to get, I was going to take advantage of it. Those early runs set it in stone — we're here; we're ready to play."
Concklin added an RBI single for Valley Central in the fourth, and Leanna Feerick blasted a solo homer in the fifth. Meanwhile, Kohler, a junior who saw little playing time last season, limited Kingston to five hits.
"I was really nervous. My warm-up was a little shaky, so I was pretty scared," said Kohler (11-3). "But after the first inning I was OK.
"The five runs was amazing. I looked up at the scoreboard, and I see 5-0. We just went out and did our thing. I loved it."