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Division I State Softball: Amherst's defense has delivered all season

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The best offense is a good defense is a phrase not usually heard on the softball field.

The way Amherst has played defense this year, that could change.

The Comets have committed only 25 errors in 30 games and their defense is one of the big reasons the team is headed to Akron today to play in the school’s first state tournament.

“At some point this season all 12 girls on this roster have made a big play in the field,” Amherst coach Lacey Reichert said. “They know it takes more than just scoring runs to win games and our defense works hard, goes all out for balls and they’ve got their pitcher’s back.”

No Comets player has committed more than five errors this season.

“Our defense has been really strong all year and kept us in a lot of games,” said junior first baseman-pitcher Madison Spataro, who has committed only one error. “Every day we work on fundamentals and all of the little things in practice, and that carries over into the games.”

In her first full year behind the plate, sophomore Lauren Kachure has became one of the area’s top catchers. She threw out a runner trying to steal second in both of Amherst’s regional tournament wins.

“Kachure has just been phenomenal this year, I could not ask for anyone better back there,” Reichert said.

Freshman Kasey McGraw has been equally as impressive stepping into the starting shortstop role, committing only five errors.

“We’re solid at every position,” McGraw said. “We work really hard on our defense, laying out for balls in practice. We just want to do what we can to help our pitchers out.”

Despite playing one of the toughest positions, McGraw said she hasn’t felt any nerves.

“I just tell myself don’t make any errors,” McGraw said. “And if I make an error, I know my teammates have my back and I’ll get the next one.”

To make room for McGraw at short, junior Sarah Miller moved to left field to solidify a veteran outfield along with seniors Ashlee Dahman and Madyson Harris. The three outfielders have combined for a mere five errors.

“It’s got to give our pitchers confidence to know they can put the ball in play and they’ve got eight girls behind them that are going to make plays,” Reichert said.

Spataro, who made a number of big plays at first base in the Comets’ regional final win over Brecksville, split the pitching duties with freshman Madison O’Berg this season so she knows what it’s like to watch the defense work its magic behind her.

“As a pitcher, it’s frustrating when your defense isn’t doing stuff for you to help you out,” Spataro said. “But I’ve had the pleasure this year of always being able to count on my defense and know they would be there for me.”

Senior Ashley Cogdell helped anchor the defense with her play at third base and junior Madison Cruzado has played second base all season while committing only two errors.

“I told the team before the season, we’re going to win games out in the field,” Reichert said. “The one thing you can always control is your defense.”

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