FORT COVINGTON – Finally!
After the late-season snows and the recent spring break, the Northern Athletic Conference softball campaign is officially underway.
The Brushton-Moira Panthers, in their first Central Division contest, took to the road on Monday and produced the teams first win, blanking the host Salmon River Shamrocks 14-0 and serving notice to the rest of the division that the Panthers could be a force to be reckoned with.
The Panthers rode the arm of winning pitcher Emily OConnor, as the junior hurler had a perfect game in her sights until the sixth inning, when a solid single to left by SRs Kera Ghostlaw broke up the perfect-game bid. OConnor had to settle for a two-hitter, collecting 14 strikeouts along the way without issuing a walk.
The Shamrocks Melanie Taylor was tagged with the loss, giving up 10 hits, nine of which were singles, while walking nine and hitting one batter. Taylor fanned four BMC hitters.
The Panthers threatened to open the scoring in the first inning, getting runners on first and second with one out, but failed to push a baserunner across the plate. They did, however, score three times in the second, added five in the third and tacked on four more in the fourth to hold a 12-0 cushion entering the final three frames of action. BMC crossed the plate twice more in the top of the seventh inning to cap the teams total.
OConnor helped her own cause at the plate with a pair of singles and two runs batted in, while Mika Uehrara and Arielle Gary also collected two hits each.
Sienna Kenney had the lone extra base hit of the contest, a two-run triple to deep right field in the fourth inning, as singles came off the bats of Jenna Dufrane, Melissa Cox and Paige DeBeer.
Cox drove in the eventual game-winning run with a sharply hit grounder to short, plating Gary, who reached on an infield single, took second on a passed ball and trotted to third on a wild pitch.
OConnor displayed her dominance in the circle, striking out the side in the first, third and fifth innings, and kept the no-hit bid intact until the sixth. Ghostlaw, a pinch-hitter inserted into the lineup by SRC coach Liz Durfee, broke up the no-no – and perfect game – with a solid single to left. Ghostlaw was cut down at second on a fielders choice as the potential threat was halted by another strikeout from OConnor.
Taylor Armstrong had the other Salmon River hit, a bloop pop-up that landed in front of the diving attempt of BMC catcher Kenzie Traynor and out of the reach of OConnor. Armstrong was left stranded at first as the opener ended.
The BMC girls are right back on the field at 4:30 p.m. today – weather permitting – hosting the Chateaugay Bulldogs in a nonleague contest. The Panthers remain at home for their next Central Division tilt on Thursday, as they host the defending division champion Franklin Academy Huskies. Brushton-Moira is scheduled to take part in a four-team even on Saturday, hosted by St. Lawrence Central. The Panthers take on Massena at 10:30 a.m., then square off against the defending Section 10 Class D champion Heuvelton Bulldogs at 1 p.m. Heuvelton takes on SLC at 10:30 a.m., then the host Larries battle the Red Raiders at 1 p.m., with all four games taking place at the Tri-Town Arena fields.
The Shamrocks take to the road for their next league contest, traveling to Potsdam for a 4:30 p.m. start on Thursday.