RCK softball advances to sectional final
WAPPINGERS FALLS – It was exactly what the Roy C. Ketcham High School softball team wanted – another crack at archrival John Jay-East Fishkill.
The second-seeded Indians quickly and easily dispatched No. 3 Clarkstown South in the Section 1 Class AA semifinals on Thursday, 8-0, setting up Round III with the top-seeded and defending state champion Patriots on Saturday for the sectional title.
And it appears that RCK – the only team that’s really had Jay’s number the last two years – is peaking at the right time. The Indians got a little bit of everything in dismantling the Rams, from a two-out, two-run clutch double by Abby Canning to start the scoring, to monster home runs from Andrea Bombace and Marlene Cuevas, to the five-hit pitching of Casey Herzog.
In Melissa Zehr’s three years as coach the Indians have gone to the Section 1 Class AA final, to the sectional semifinals, and now back to the championship game again. And even she wanted a crack at the Patriots, who have now won 29 consecutive games.
“That’s what we wanted,” Zehr said. “We wanted to come back and play Jay again.”
“Last game we had the big lead and I think we just let up,” Bombace said. “If we go into it playing hard all game, I think we’ll have a great game.”
Ketcham beat Jay twice last year. This year, Jay twice returned the favor as RCK had four errors in the first game loss and then blew a 9-1 lead in the fifth inning of an eventual 11-9 loss to the Patriots in the second game.
Ketcham made this one against Clarkstown South look easy, though. With two outs and two on in the bottom of the first inning, Abby Canning went the other way and roped a double to the gap in right centerfield to give RCK a 2-0 advantage.
Two innings later, a walk and an error put the first two runners on and Bombace absolutely unloaded on a pitch, sending 25 feet past the fence in left field for a three-run home run.
“I saw a good piece of it. She pitched it right where I like it, middle inside,” said Bombace, who is just a freshman.
Up 6-0 in the fourth, junior Marlene Cuevas hit her first career home run with a two-run shot to dead center field to close out the scoring.
“The girls were bringing it today in every aspect,” Zehr said. “We work hard on hitting in practice and today they brought it to the game.”
Herzog, a sophomore right-hander, just cruised. Though South had runners on base, Herzog was never really in trouble.
“I just throw my game no matter what,” she said. “Nothing changes. We just want to go out and win.”
Herzog said it was “awesome” to be back in the championship game, but when asked about playing John Jay for a third time, she said, “It’s just another game. We’re just going to go out and play our game and see what we do.”