Ludden softball stopped by Sandy Creek in Class C final

Game-opening home run sets tone in Gaelic Knights' 5-0 loss

— Two pitches were all it took for the decisive blow to be struck in Saturday's Section III Class C softball final between Bishop Ludden and Sandy Creek at Hopkins Road Park.

It was that second pitch, thrown by Korey Kibling and hit over the fence by Chelsea Claflin, that proved the defining moment of the Gaelic Knights' 5-0 defeat to the Comets.

Having just grabbed the Class C-1 title by virtue of a 7-5 victory over Sauquoit Valley three nights earlier, Ludden now turned its attention to Sandy Creek, a long-time power from the Frontier League.

On its way to the C-2 title, the Comets, with Claflin working from the pitcher's circle, had not allowed a single run, shutting out Waterville (14-0), Fabius-Pompey (2-0) and Weedsport (4-0) to set up its match with the Gaelic Knights.

So when Kibling went to the pitcher's circle in the top of the first inning, she knew the importance of containing Sandy Creek and making them work for any offensive production.

Claflin led off the game. After taking the first pitch, the right-hander swung at Kibling's second delivery - and it took off on a rising arc, not falling until it had landed beyond the right-field fence.

Instead of getting a chance to settle into the contest, the Gaelic Knights were instantly trailing, 1-0, and would spend the rest of the game in catch-up mode.

In the bottom of the first, Korey Kibling got an infield hit and Kayla Kibling drew a walk, putting runners on first and second with one out for Lauren Roy, who had big hits in each of the previous two Ludden playoff wins. But Claflin coaxed Roy to fly out, and a strikeout ended the Gaelic Knights' threat.

Up until the fifth inning, Korey Kibling kept it at 1-0. But in the fifth, with Gabriella Guarasce on first, Karintha Myslivecek singled - and an error in right field allowed both Guarasce and Myslivecek to score, expanding Sandy Creek's lead to 3-0.

Two more Comets runs followed in the top of the seventh, but Claflin didn't need anything more. Mixing up her pitches - from speed to off-speed - Claflin limited Ludden to two hits and picked up eight strikeouts.

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