North Collins tallies 15 hits, Holmes throws shutout in win over Forestville

On to the Final

OBSERVER Photo by Braden Carmen The North Collins Lady Eagles celebrate after defeating the Forestville Lady Hornets, 11-0, on Wednesday at Forestville High School.

FORESTVILLE — After making back-to-back trips to the New York State Final Four over the last two seasons, the North Collins Lady Eagles are just two wins away from making it three in a row. After four highly competitive innings on Wednesday, the Lady Eagles delivered a knockout blow with 10 runs over the final three innings to defeat the Forestville Lady Hornets, 11-0, in a Section VI, Class D softball semifinal playoff game at Forestville Central School.

“I believe that’s the best game we’ve played all year long,” said North Collins head coach Jan Warren. “They’re getting better every game, too.”

North Collins (12-10, 3-seed) faced a challenging predicament right out of the gates against Forestville (9-7, 2-seed) after a leadoff triple by Clare Kingsfield in the bottom of the first inning. North Collins pitcher Becky Holmes was not intimidated by the pressure, however, and struck out three of the next four batters to get out of the inning without allowing a run to cross the plate.

“She did a great job,” said Forestville head coach Brianne Hazelton of Holmes. “Our girls haven’t seen speed like that in a couple of games. They were swinging at pitches out of the zone, looking at third strikes. … I think they just haven’t seen that quickness in a while.”

After Holmes reached on an infield single in the top of the second inning, DeAnna Wilson bunted for a hit with two outs. The throw to first base was not in time, and with no one covering home plate, Holmes dashed home safely for the first run of the game. The next two innings were scoreless on both sides, leaving the score at 1-0 North Collins over a short-handed Forestville team with multiple players out due to injury.

OBSERVER Photo by Braden Carmen North Collins pitcher Becky Holmes delivers a pitch during Wednesday’s Section VI, Class D softball semifinal game against the Forestville Lady Hornets, at Forestville Central School.

“We had a lot of injuries that have happened in the last couple games, I had people playing positions they’ve never played before,” said Hazelton. “I thought at first, everybody was doing a really good job — it was close and everyone did the best they could. It just ended up being that North Collins’ bats were on fire towards the end.”

Forestville managed to hang around until the fifth inning, but then the Lady Eagles began to pull away. After a leadoff infield single by Hailey Jasinski led to a run on a sacrifice fly by Emily Winter, North Collins struck twice with two outs to extend the lead to 4-0, after an RBI double by Holmes and an RBI single by Morgan Smith.

“It’s just something about seeing the pitcher a second or third time,” said Warren. “They just stay confident. They keep playing.”

North Collins added two more runs in the sixth inning, on RBI singles by McKenna Williams and Myah Gabel. After just four hits through four innings, the Lady Eagles had three hits in each of the fifth and sixth innings.

“They adjust. They’ve always done well with adjusting to the pitching they face,” said Hazelton of North Collins. “They’re a great-coached team and always have a great offense.”

OBSERVER Photo by Braden Carmen North Collins’ Emily Winter swings for a base hit during Wednesday’s game, in Forestville.

In the top of the seventh inning, the score got out of hand. North Collins tallied five hits in the seventh inning, including an RBI double by Wilson and a two-run single by Winter. After five runs came across the plate in the seventh inning, North Collins led 11-0 on the strength of 15 hits as a team. Forestville went down in order in the bottom half of the inning to close out the contest.

Alexis Alguire pitched the entire game for Forestville, allowing just one run through four innings, before North Collins capitalized with 10 runs in the final three innings. She finished with four strikeouts.

“She’s our back-up pitcher, so she’s not used to pitching the whole game. Maybe as the game went on, she got tired because she’s not used to going the whole distance. I think that factored into it, as well,” said Hazelton of Alexis Alguire, who filled in for her sister, Kaitlyn, who was out because of injury.

On the winning side, Holmes went the distance to earn a complete game shutout. She finished with just three hits and two walks allowed, with 12 strikeouts to her credit.

“I’ve got to give some props to (Becky Holmes) for her to do what she did, to move from catcher to pitcher this year, and do the job she’s doing for us, it’s unbelievable,” said Warren. “She’s been working awfully hard. She’s been coming in the gym with me since November throwing, just working really hard.”

North Collins now finds itself with a chance to play for another Section VI title, Monday, against Panama.

“I’m excited about Monday and it’s good to be back, said Warren. “It’s going to be fun again. If we play like we did tonight, I like our chances.”

With a win on Monday, North Collins would play in a Far West regional game for the third straight year, with the winner going to the State final four.

“The leadership we’re getting from Emily (Winter) and Becky Holmes, they’ve led us and they knew what it took to get where we got the last two years. They’re hungry. They want to go back again,” said Warren.

For Forestville — a team that lost eight seniors from a year ago — the hope is that the Lady Hornets can build upon this season’s success moving forward. The Lady Hornets only lose one senior from Wednesday’s starting lineup, Rachael Goodrich.

“Coming into the season, we lost eight seniors from last year,” said Hazelton. “I told them that nobody would have thought we would make it to the semifinals this year. We had all new people, so I think for us to get to hosting a semifinal this year exceeded our expectations. They did a wonderful job and they should not hang their heads. We’re going to be right back here next year.”

Twitter: @bradencarmen