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Solvay softball blanks Homer, clinches league title

Baseball Bearcats also win, hands Liberty title to Westhill

Solvay's softball team was not in a sharing mood Friday afternoon.

With a chance to snatch the outright OHSL Liberty division regular-season championship in Friday's showdown against Homer, the Bearcats seized it, combining offensive opportunity with defensive efficiency to beat the Trojans 5-0.

Going in, the math was rather simple. A Solvay victory meant the league title, but a defeat would bring a tie between the Bearcats and Trojans - and Homer would have bragging rights because it beat Solvay 5-3 back on April 17.

That first game saw Solvay throw away runs due to defensive mistakes. Right from the start, the rematch was a different tale.

After Katie Sinclair led off with a single, Nikea Ulrich hit it right back to pitcher Jackie Gardner, whose snap throw to first forced out Sinclair, too, for a double play, halting the Trojans' first threat.

The Bearcats stranded two in the bottom of the first, but it proved different in the second. Nicole Groth and Sydney Cimini both reached base on Trojan errors, putting Groth and courtesy runner Shannen Sullivan (back from a bout with mononucleosis) on second and third with one out.

Brenna Poli popped out, but Nicole Antonacci did not, doubling down the left-field line to score Groth and Sullivan. Then, after Taylor Guinta drew a walk, Chelsie Delperuto tripled into the gap, allowing Antonacci and Guinta to race home and make it 4-0.

Jackie Gardner's biggest crisis came in the third. With two out, Homer loaded the bases, but Gardner threw a called strike three past Kelsey Root, ending the threat and maintaining the shutout.

Then Solvay's defense really took over. Groth and Delperuto both made terrific catches in the outfield in the fourth, and Julie Gardner snatched a line drive and turned it into another double play in the fifth. Gardner also drove Delperuto home for the game's last run with a sacrifice fly in the bottom of the fifth.

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