From terrific pitching to timely hitting, whatever the Bishop Ludden softball team needed to earn the Section III Class C-1 championship, it found in abundance.
That was true in Wednesday’s C-1 final against Sauquoit Valley at the Gillette Road complex in Cicero, where two offensive surges and calm pitching in a frantic homestretch led to a 7-5 victory over the Indians.
From its no. 5 seed, Sauquoit had already done lots of damage in these playoffs, first by toppling defending champion South Lewis 6-2 in the quarterfinals and then stunning top seed Herkimer 1-0 in the semifinals.
Ludden, determined to avoid that same fate, sneaked across a run in the bottom of the first, and then expanded the lead to 4-0 in the third. Just for a cushion, the Gaelic Knights tacked on three more runs in the bottom of the sixth.
Amid all this, Lauren Roy, gaining a reputation for clutch hits (her three-run triple beat Thousand Islands in the semifinals on May 26), struck a three-run home run. Jessica Sciore doubled, singled and drove in two runs, while Kayla Kibling added a triple and RBI as she pounded out four hits overall. Ally Wiegand had three hits and three runs scored.
Yet it almost wasn’t enough. Korey Kibling, who piled up 14 strikeouts on the day, tired in the seventh as Sauquoit struck for four runs, cutting the margin to two. But Kibling managed to get the final out, clinching the C-1 title.
There's still an overall Class C championship to attain Saturday at Hopkins Road Park in Liverpool, and to get it, Ludden has to conquer perennial power Sandy Creek, who had not allowed a run in three playoff games so far, including a 4-0 shutout of Weedsport in the C-2 final.
Meanwhile, Both Solvay and West Genesee wanted another shot at Section III titles, but they would each fall one step short of returning to the championship games that they reached in 2011.