BY STEVEN HEATON
POTSDAM – It been a whirlwind week for Heuvelton Central senior softball player Alexis Weidner.
On Wednesday, she was in an automobile accident where her car overturned. On Friday she played a dual role as the Lady Bulldogs nipped Section 3 champion Hamilton 4-3 in eight innings to advance to the New York State Final Four.
Weidner started at secondbase, pitched in relief of Paige McCormick in the sixth inning for a change of pace and worked herself out of bases-loaded jam. She returned to second and recorded the second out in the seventh inning which helped force extra innings against top-ranked Hamilton in the regional final at SUNY Potsdam.
“I guess I’ve been blessed,” said Weidner of coming out of the accident and getting a chance to play Hamilton for the third time in her quest to reach the New York State Final Four.
But Weidner was quick to respond that it took eight other players on the field and four vocal players on the bench to reach the ultimate goal a trip to the final four – something which eluded her and most of her teammates in basketball.
“We, as a team have worked really hard to get to this point. Tonight, our seniors stepped up and Paige (McCormick) just pitched like a veteran out there. I am just fortunate to have so many good teammates,” said Weidner after the third-ranked Lady Bulldogs earned Saturday semi-final date against Section 5-6 winner Arkport-Pine Valley.
McCormick fanned 12 batters, walked just one and allowed eight hits in pitching the first five and the final two innings for 20-0 Heuvelton. Weidner allowed two hits, one walk and fanned one batter – a key strikeout with the bases loaded.
“Paige pitched like a true veteran today,” said Heuvelton coach Josie Cole who was holding a lucky coin that her father Kevin Cole – a longtime coach gave to her this week. Kevin Cole kept the coin in his right shoe for his 19 years of assisting at Heuvelton with former coaches Al Minckler and Mark Henry.
“Alexis pitched sixth inning because we felt Hamilton needed a change of pace. She battled back after allowing a walk and two hits. Our seniors came through big time today,” said Josie Cole.
“Alexis Sawyer got a big hit in the eighth and and caught some big balls at firstbase. Logan Tallman made some good plays at short and got on in the eighth to start us off. Rachel Thornhill had a nice triple and then Nathalie Barr made two outstanding grabs in centerfield as a freshman. I just can’t tell you how proud I am of this team. Hamilton is a very good team. Becca Rogers is a great pitcher. We just made some big plays.”
Rogers fanned 12, allowed just four hits and six walks and four earned runs for 18-1 Hamilton.
In the eighth inning, Tallman singled for Heuvelton’s second hit of the day and moved into scoring postion on a single from Sawyer. Hannan Thornhill then drew a walk and Tallman was able to score the third run on a wild pitch. McCormick then plated Sawyer and the eventual winning run with a sacrifice fly.
Hamilton responded in the eighth with one run after Breanna Randell singled and moved to second on a Meghan Holcombe single. Lauren Weeks hit a bloop single which allowed Randell to score from secondbase on a close play at the plate and a interference call.
Tallman ended the game with a strong throw to first on a groundball.
In the first inning, Tallman reached on a one-out walk and Hannah Thornhill gave the Bulldogs a towering offensive spark parking a two run homerun over the leftfield fence for a 2-0 lead.
“Hannah got us a homerun last year to get us a chance to play Hamilton and today she got us going early. That gave us confidence after losing twice to Hamilton in the past,” said Cole.
Hamilton responded with a run in the bottom of the first.
Lauren Weeks singled and scored on a hard single by Becca Rogers with two outs. Barr made a diving catch in centerfield to end the inning.
Heuvelton left two runners on in the second, one at secondbase in the third, fourth and sixth inning.
The Knights, who stranded 12 on during the game, left a tying run at thirdbase with one-out in the third and the bases loaded in the fourth.
In the fifth, Hamilton tied the score at 2-2 when Jess Welsh singled, stole secondbase and moved to third on a single from Caitlin Purdy. Wendt drilled a sacrifice fly to centerfield to score Welsh.
Walsh, Weeks, Rogers and Holcombe each singled twice for Hamilton.
Heuvelton 4, Hamilton 3
Heuvelton 200 000 02 — 4 4 1
Hamilton 100 010 01 _ 3 10 2
McCormick, Weidner (6), McCormick (W,7) and H. Thornhill, Rogers (L) and Welsh.
Records: Heuvelton (20-0), Hamilton (18-1).