Mineau Just About Perfect In Season Opener
Also check out our full softball season preview in Saturday's Record.
SCHAGHTICOKE – Usually, it only seems like Jen Mineau strikes out four batters an inning. But that’s exactly what the Hoosic Valley hurler did in the opening inning of Wasaren League play against Tamarac Thursday afternoon.
Tamarac’s Sam Loiselle struck out in the first inning, but reached base when the third strike sailed high of catcher Emilee Bonnier’s glove.
Mineau got the Bengals’ number three and four hitters swinging, striking out the side, plus one.
The Indians were themselves stymied by Tamarac’s Megan Fitzgerald, but finally got rolling offensively in the bottom of the seventh. Ninth-place hitter Cassandra Chapko drilled the game-winning hit straight up the middle, sealing a 1-0 victory for Hoosic Valley and a no-hitter for Mineau.
Mineau totaled 20 strikeouts, allowing only one baserunner – a strikeout victim.
“It’s good to get the jitters out,” grinned Mineau. “Everyone was really nervous, so it’s nice to have a hard, nerve-wracking game.”
“There is no secret with Jen,” said Tamarac (0-1, 0-1) coach Randy Foster. “She throws the ball hard and keeps the ball moving.”
As impressive as Mineau was, Tamarac’s Megan Fitzgerald rose to the occasion, not allowing a run through her first six innings of work.
“Megan was a good pitcher, but Jen threw 20 (strikeouts), so it’s tough to score too many runs on that,” laughed Hoosic Valley head coach Jim Seeley. “When you’ve got two good pitchers like that, you have to take advantage of mistakes when they happen.”
The Indians (1-0, 1-0) had runners on base in the first, third and sixth innings, but were unable to capitalize on any of those opportunities. Mineau came to the plate with two runners in scoring position with two outs in the third, but flied out to right to end the inning.
Tamarac’s Fitzgerald also got out of a jam in the sixth inning. Bonnier and Mineau then reached base on a fielder’s choice and an error, respectively, advancing to second and third with only one out recorded. Fitzgerald then struck out Carolyn Houston and got Sam Anderson to ground out to second to end the threat.
“We threatened a couple times, but we just needed that one extra base,” said Seeley.
Carlee Chapko reached first on an error to start the Indians’ game-winning rally. Rightfielder Eileen Farrell sacrificed Carlee Chapko to second, putting her in scoring position for Cassandra Chapko to drive in the winning run.
“I knew it was going to be that way, 1-0 or 2-1, unless someone made a lot of mistakes,” said Seeley.”
The Bengals knew they would have to play a perfect game against Mineau, who led the Indians to the class C state championship in 2007. Last season, Mineau was 24-0 with 426 strikeouts and five walks in 186 innings pitched.
“If we’re going to be a championship team, we can’t be making mistakes,” Foster said. “For us to win, we have to be mistake-free.”
Mineau struck out the side five times in seven innings, and she fielded a ground ball for another out in the fifth inning. As the game wore on, both pitchers seemed to improve their game, reaccustoming themselves to the pitcher’s circle after a long winter.
“I think I had to warm up a little,” Mineau grinned. “I had not pitched on that mound since last year. We had the grounds crew out here for two and a half hours today, thank God for them. They somehow repaired the field from the marsh it was yesterday.”
Seeley figures Tamarac to be among the Wasaren’s best this year, thanks to Fitzgerald’s arm.
“We’re just happy that we were ready enough to beat (Tamarac) the first time through,” he said. “I think we play the toughest two games our first two games, since we play at Schuylerville on Monday.”
While the late-inning dramatics were fun for the fans, Seeley thinks the Indians’ offense will begin to warm up as the season progresses.
“I was hoping it wouldn’t go any longer, because it’s anybody’s game at that point,” said Seeley. “Whoever pushes a run across in the sixth or seventh inning is usually the winner. We’re just fortunate that Jen pitched strong and we got the one key hit when we needed it - as the clock was expiring.”
HOOSIC VALLEY 1, TAMARAC 0
TAMARAC HOOSIC VALLEY
ab r h bi ab r h bi
Fitzgerald p 3 0 0 0 Polmateer 1b 3 0 1 0
Loiselle 3b 3 0 0 0 Pipino 2b 3 0 1 0
Kinner cf 3 0 0 0 Bonnier C 3 0 1 0
Vickerson ss 3 0 0 0 Mineau p 2 0 0 0
Kultzer rf 2 0 0 0 Houston ss 3 0 0 0
Squad DH 2 0 0 0 Anderson cf 3 0 0 0
Thomas 1b 2 0 0 0 Car. Chapko 3b3 1 0 0
Darby 2b 2 0 0 0 Farrell rf 2 0 0 0
Ryan lf 2 0 0 0 Cas. Chapko lf 3 0 1 1
Totals 22 0 0 0 Totals 25 1 4 1
Tamarac (0-1, 0-1) 000 000 0 – 0 0 3
Hoosic Valley (1-0, 1-0) 000 000 1 – 1 4 0
Tamarac IP H R ER BB SO
Fitzgerald, L (0-1) 6.1 4 1 0 1 6
Mineau, W (1-0) 7 0 0 0 0 20