SYRACUSE Only one successful conclusion would prove satisfactory to the Solvay softball team in 2013, at least as far as the Section III Class B playoffs was concerned.
When all was settled Saturday night at Syracuse University, the Bearcats had achieved that happy ending, drubbing Holland Patent 12-0 to stay unbeaten and earn its first sectional title since 2007.
Two seasons removed from a 2011 finals loss to Adirondack, and one season removed from a bitter 2012 semifinal defeat to CBA, Solvay went all the way this time.
“It’s so awesome,” said pitcher Jacke Gardner, who tossed a three-hit shutout while striking out 11. “We knew that this was our year.”
“These kids are battlers and have some tremendous perseverance,” said head coach Phil Merrill, drenched with water after a post-game bath from his players. “We’ve been knocking at the door the last two years. They had unfinished business.”
Now that work is finished, and Solvay advances to face Section IV champion Windsor Tuesday night at the Gillette Road complex in Cicero at 7 p.m. The winner of that game goes to next Saturday’s state final four at the Adirondack Sports Complex in Queensbury.
With the memory of Thursday’s narrow 5-4 semifinal escape against General Brown still fresh in its mind, the Bearcats were bent on restoring its season-long trend of starting fast at the plate against Holland Patent pitcher Peyton Cole, who shut out Marcellus 3-0 in the other semifinal.
Neither side got a hit until the second inning. HP’s Korey Bunal led off the top of the second with a single, stole second base and went to third on a wild pitch. But Jackie Gardner struck out Katie Warcup to keep it 0-0, and from there it was all Bearcats.
Walks to Julie and Jackie Gardner in the bottom of the second would get Solvay in front in the bottom of the second. With two out, and the runners on second and third, Warcup dropped Brenna Poli’s fly ball in left field, and both Gardner sisters came home.