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High School Softball: Hamburg distances itself from Frontier in victory

Bridget Hogan struck out 15 batters in leading Hamburg to a 6-1 win over rival Frontier on May 13. (Photo courtesy of Ron Larson)
It’s taken a little time for Hamburg’s bats to warm up, but ever since a hitting outburst the last weekend in April at the Depew Tournament they haven’t stopped sizzling.

The Bulldogs have hit pretty consistently throughout a seven-game winning streak, which included running away with a 6-1 victory at Frontier on a cold and windy afternoon Monday (May 13).

The win streak includes four wins in a tough ECIC I and three more in earning that tournament bracket championship, which included run-ruling WNY-small school power and host Depew.

“We kind of came out of our shell at the Depew Tournament,” said Hamburg head coach Lisa Palma, who comes off helping lead a 21-1 campaign and state semifinalist season in 2012. “We mercy-ruled Depew in the fifth inning and they’re a really good team.”

Hamburg pulled away from a Frontier team it beat only 2-0 early in the season and then 4-3 in extra innings in the championship of the Depew Tournament. A hard-luck Frontier squad, which has now lost four straight, dropped to 2-9 in division and 6-11 overall.

“For us to come here and put up six runs against Frontier, I’m very pleased,” Palma added. “Our games with Frontier have been very close. The first one was a lot of three-up-and-three-down and finished in 50-something minutes and in the second one, we went eight innings.”

Leading Hamburg’s hitting attack was senior Bridget Hogan, who finished 3 for 3 with a walk and two RBI and fellow upperclassman and leftfielder Kailee Ramaekers, who enjoyed a multiple-hit game which included a two-RBI drag bunt.

Junior third baseman Allison Salerno scored twice and eighth grader Heather Haberman was 1 for 3 with a walk as she filled for senior catcher Sarah Mertowski, who came late to the game due to taking an AP exam.

It also didn’t hurt to have Hogan on the mound. The Niagara University-bound hurler threw a three-hitter, striking out 15 Falcons. She gave up one hit in the first inning and then two in the seventh when the shutout was broken up. She also walked only one.

Hamburg opened a 1-0 lead in the first and later added runs in the fourth and fifth. In the bottom of the seventh, Frontier junior Melissa Woods doubled with one out and scored on a single from sophomore Lexi Simmons.

Also during this streak of victories, Hamburg avenged an earlier-season loss to Lancaster with a 2-1 win on April 29 just a day after the Depew Tournament.

“We got a big win against Lancaster and that really catapulted us, too,” Palma said. “We’ve been playing error free and getting down our bunts.”

After going undefeated during last year’s regular season, Hamburg lost three times in moving up from ECIC II to I in 2013 but could still finish tied for second place with Lancaster with a win over Orchard Park this week in the division finale. Only defending Class AA state champion Clarence will finish ahead.

Not bad for playing in a division stacked with pitching. A win over O.P. could also put Hamburg in the driver’s seat to again be the top seed in Class A-1. All of the other teams from ECIC I will be playing in Class AA.

“We’ve faced really good competition and I really think all of the best pitching was in AA this year which will only help us in the playoffs,” Palma said. “We control our own destiny so with a win we should have enough power points to get the one seed. Starpoint, Iroquois and Will. East (all 9-3) beat each other up in ECIC II.

“That’s a great year considering our team batting average was lower this year than it was last season. I’ll take that,” she added.

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