Bearcats reign as Class B softball champs

Everyone on the Solvay softball team watched as Adirondack's Suzanne Jokajtys raced home with the winning run in the bottom of the seventh inning, signaling the end of Saturday's Section III Class B final at Gillette Field, and the end of a magical post-season run by the Bearcats.

Only it wasn't the end.

Not even a half-hour later, it was the Bearcats' turn to celebrate -- and this one counted. Solvay's 4-2, eight-inning victory gave the team its first-ever overall Class B title, all pulled off by a team with just one senior on its roster.

"It's just a dream come true," said head coach Phil Merrill. "These girls played their hearts out. Who ever thought we would get here?"

A little fortune didn't hurt, either, and two bits of fortune played a big part in the Bearcats' rally past the B-2 champion Wildcats.

Down 2-1 going into the top of the seventh inning, Solvay's lone senior, Stacy Kaltenbach, ripped a one-out triple to the wall. Kylie Scoville then fought off several 0-2 pitches from Halie Tyler before lifting a fly ball not deep enough to bring Kaltenbach home -- but it was dropped, and when Kaltenbach scored, it was a 2-2 tie.

Now Gabrielle Nurod, the talented Solvay freshman on the mound, tried to force extra frames. Adirondack's Amanda Pratt doubled and Ashley Ziegler singled, brining Tyler to the plate. Tyler had doubled home a run off Nurod two innings earlier.

Tyler came through again, ripping a shot fair just inside the left-field line. Jokajtys, pinch-running for Pratt, raced around third and, as her teammates spilled out of the dugout, jumped across home plate.

But Jokajtys didn't touch home plate, a fact pointed out by one of the Solvay coaches.

"I didn't notice it," said Kaltenbach, the Bearcats' catcher.

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