FREWSBURG - One would be hard pressed to find a coach that has a better time watching his team play than Frewsburg's Jon Blanchard.
And given the way they play, who can blame him?
Blanchard's crew was up to its usual tricks on Thursday afternoon against the visiting Randolph Lady Cardinals (2-8, 2-8) - scoring early (and often), taking extra bases despite having only the narrowest window of opportunity and playing error-free defense - with all of it adding up to the customary result, a 15-0 victory.
Above, Frewsburg’s Alanna Blanchard slides safely into third base for the first of her two triples in Thursday’s Division 2 softball game against Randolph. Below, Bethany Steele of the Bears drives in two runs during Frewsburg’s 10-run fist inning. See additional photos at cu.post-journal.com.
P-J photo by Rob Tucker
"It's a special group I've got," Blanchard said with a smile, "and it's just a real pleasure to coach them; no matter what happens. Every day it's been a real pleasure and we're excited about what we're doing."
More excited now, undoubtedly, for the win - the squad's 10th in as many tries in league play this season - clinched for Frewsburg yet another Division 2 crown, which is always the first benchmark for a team with New York State Public High School Athletic Association state title aspirations.
Frewsburg took command from the start on Thursday, plating 10 runs on 10 hits in the bottom of the first; seven of those 10 were tallied with two outs.
Eight of nine Bears' batters delivered at least a hit (and scored at least one run) during the frame, and McKenzie Cass led the way with a pair of singles. Along with Cass, Reyanne Strong and Shawna Raymond scored twice and Strong and Annie Berg drove in two and three runs, respectively.
Despite taking the hefty lead early, Frewsburg never took it's foot off the gas and would tally one more run in the second, two in the third and one in the fifth to reach the winning margin. In all, the Bears drilled 16 hits, including six that went for extra bases.
"At this point (the season) is really about them taking ownership of their team, and that's what they're doing," Blanchard said. "I think you can see it out there with the intensity that they play with the whole game."
Cass finished a perfect 4-for-4 with a triple, three RBIs and three runs scored; Raymond added three hits in three at-bats with four runs scored; Sam Mott had two hits with two RBIs and Bethany Steele chipped in with a pair of RBIs after connecting on a two-run single during the game-deciding first inning.
"We've been hitting the ball real well all year," Blanchard said, "and I have a good group of girls. There's not really much, most of the time, that I really have to do. They're smart on the bases, they hit the ball hard and they play good defense."
And they pitch well, too.
Mott was nearly perfect in the circle, facing just one batter over the minimum (Cortney Wilkins beat out the throw on a swinging bunt in the fourth inning for Randolph's first hit of the game) and fanning seven over four innings. The right-hander then gave way to Blanchard, who closed out the final three frames, allowing one hit to the first batter she faced (Kaylee Hettenbaugh) before sending down the final eight batters in a row.
No Randolph hitters moved beyond first base.
During their outings, both Mott and Blanchard, who together struck out 11 Randolph hitters, benefited from a pair of double plays - one for Mott in the fourth and one for Blanchard in the fifth. Both were turned by the shortstop Raymond, who fielded grounders, stepped on second for the first out and then fired to first ahead of the runner.
"We've talked constantly about doing the little things right," Blanchard said, "and we're harping on them about that. Today defensively we were really sharp, and Shawna was just ridiculous."
Frewsburg will be looking for its 11th straight victory on Monday at Silver Creek while Randolph will be back in action at Salamanca on Tuesday.