Cheyenne Tatesure isn't quite used to the spotlight yet. The sophomore pitcher had to shake the early game jitters before she showed just how dominant she can be.
"She needs to hear that both her team and I have faith in her," said first year James Madison head coach Brian Friedman. "Once she believes in herself, the ability just takes over. So far this season, its taken her a couple of batters to get the jitters out. Today, the cameras may have added a little more to it as well."
"I got off to a rough start," Tatesure echoed. "I knew I had to calm down and hit my spots that my catcher set up for me. I'm always nervous on camera and it takes me a while to get set and get going."
But once Tatesure did get going, she was an unstoppable force. She led the Lady Knights to a 11-1 victory at home against New Utrecht Thursday night. At one point she struck out seven straight hitters and only allowed one run, four hits, and two walks.
Tatesure began the game with those two straight walks and New Utrecht was well situated with two runners in scoring position and no outs. Once those two were out of the way though, Tatesure righted things quickly and struck out the next three pitchers to end the inning.
"In the beginning, Cheyenne got off to a rocky start," said senior shortstop Gina Gerone. "But after the first two batters, she had a ton of strikeouts in row."
New Utrecht pitcher Gabriella Scarpaci had her hands full all day as she did her best to keep the Lady Knights off base. The freshman pitcher was doing well early with two straight strikeouts and no runners on. But minutes later with two runners on and two outs, James Madison recorded its first run in the bottom of the first inning off an RBI single from senior Samantha Rodriguez.
Tatesure then made sure that her hitters remained on the field, only allowing New Utrecht senior Jacqueline Emhoff on base before striking out the side. The Lady Knights were up 6-0 by the top of the third and threatened to run away with the lead. The Utes started to make mistakes on defense and miscues allowed James Madison to make runs.
Gerone was a huge factor in the game as well, batting 3-for-4 with two singles, a double, two stolen bases, one RBI, and three runs.
"I was proud of my performance today," Gerone said. "I was happy with it, but there's always room for improvement. I'm always looking to do better than my last at bat."
"Well she's been working really hard in batting practice and really hard in general," Friedman said. "Its been paying off. She's the type of person who is going to continue to work hard. She's not going to go by her talent and just think that's enough. She works hard everyday and it shows. I expect nothing less from her than dominance."
With James Madison on the verge of going up 10-0 and incurring the early forfeiture rule in PSAL softball, New Utrecht was able to tag out two runners in scoring position, including Gerone, who had just stolen third base in the bottom of the fifth.
While the Utes (1-4) did manage to score a run at the top of the sixth, it was too little too late because in the bottom of the sixth the Lady Knights pushed through two runners to nab the 11-1 victory.
PSAL Class A championship runner-ups to Tottenville, James Madison (5-0) hasn't skipped a beat this season, despite the graduation of all-city pitcher Kayla Hill. While its unfair to expect Tatesure to produce to Hill's level at this stage in her career, she has certainly played admirably in Hill's shadow in the early goings of the season.
"Kayla is definitely a big shadow to fill," Tatesure said. "But she taught me some stuff before she left, so I'm ready for all that comes."
Friedman doesn't think both players should be compared because they are at different levels in their game.
"They're not legitimate comparisons," Friedman said. "Cheyenne is developing and learning while Kayla Hill was a senior last year who was a dominant force. They're at completely different stages of their athletic career. Cheyenne can get there, but she's still learning."