SEWELL – After it was over and the Cedar Creek High School softball season officially came to an untimely end, it was left up to junior Venizya Sanchez to put the whole thing in perspective.
“This is the first time we’ve ever been here ,” said Sanchez after her team lost a 10-0 decision to Robbinsville in the state Group 2 semifinal game. “But it definitely won’t be the last.”
In a game played at Rowan College at Gloucester County, the Pirates were badly overmatched by a team that has established itself as one of the state’s small-school powers.
The Ravens rode the one-hit pitching performance by Kate Hunter, who helped her own cause with five RBIs to reach the state championship game for the sixth time in seven years.
Hunter had a no-hitter going into the sixth inning before Sanchez hit a two-out double, long after the game was already out of reach.
“She was by far the best pitcher we’ve seen controlwise,” Sanchez said. “She had a lot of movement and I think that was the best pitcher we’ve been against. But I feel like we battled. It was our first year here, so now we know what to expect.”
Hunter was in command throughout the game She struck out 10 before the game was called in the sixth inning for the 10-run rule and she only walked one – that on a check swing on a 3-2 pitch.
Her first thoughts were about her teammates.
“I think we played really well,” Hunter said. “This is probably one of the best games we’ve had. All-round we all did well and we’re really excited about getting a chance to play for the championship.”
Asked to assess her own performance, Hunter said she thought all of her pitches worked well.
“I felt like I was in control the entire game,” she said. “I’m pretty happy.”
Cedar Creek coach Shawn Collins admitted after the game that he suspected his team would be in for an uphill battle after it finished with a record of 16-11.
“We rode the high of winning the South Jersey Group 2 title and practice went well (Wednesday),” he said. “There was a lot of hope and a lot of good vibes, but we really didn’t know what to expect. Now we know.”
Despite being the decided underdog, Cedar Creek managed to keep the game close for a couple of innings.
Pirates staring pitcher Ally Schlee gave up a run in the top of the first inning when Hunter accounted for the first of her RBIs with a single.
But Schlee then got the next two outs, stranding runners on second and third. Schlee then pitched a 1-2-3 second inning, but the Ravens began to pull away with three runs in the third inning.
With the help of an error the Ravens loaded the bases with no outs and once again Hunter delivered, this time with a two-run single.
She tacked on two more RBIs with a single that highlighted a three-run fourth inning.
“That was definitely the sign of a good day,” Hunter said.
Down 7-0 at that point, the Pirates finally got their first base-runner when Brianna Young drew a two-out walk. But she was stranded at first base.
The game came to an end in the sixth inning when Mackenzie Medders cleared the bases with a two-out, three-run triple.