Jun 15, 2014 Phil Blackwell Uncategorized
History, in the form of a first state championship, was right within the reach of the Solvay softball team as it took to the field at South Glens Falls’ Moreau Recreation Center Saturday afternoon, one victory away from the biggest prize of all.
And while the Bearcats gave its full effort, it never could solve Jill Murray, pitching ace for Eden, who threw a no-hitter to lead the Raiders past Solvay 1-0 in eight innings to claim the state Class B title.
Eden, a Section VI school located nearly 20 miles south of Buffalo, had required two runs in the bottom of the seventh inning just to make it out of its state semifinal with Center Moriches (Section XI), prevailing 4-3, while Solvay had topped Mechanicville (Section II) 2-0 in the other state semifinal.
What’s more, the Bearcats’ semifinal game finished much earlier than the Raiders’ did. Consequently, Solvay had time to rest, while Eden had to go through a quicker turnaround.
But as it turned out, Eden didn’t need much rest – especially Murray, who would engage in a pitcher’s duel with Solvay ace Jackie Gardner that few would ever forget.
Each pitcher zipped through the first two innings. Then, in the top of the third, Solvay got its best opportunity, as Murray walked one batter and hit another, but the Bearcats could not get the hit it needed to move out in front.
Gardner, meanwhile, surrendered a handful of hits in the early innings, but shut things down when she needed to, keeping the game 0-0. But the toll of pitching back-to-back games would finally get to Gardner at the end.
Back-to-back hits helped Eden move the winning run into scoring position in the bottom of the seventh, and while Gardner again escaped, she would not be as fortunate an inning later.
Following Murray’s latest 1-2-3 effort in the top of the eighth, Gardner retired the first two Eden batters she faced in the bottom of the eighth before Murray singled.
Trying a hit-and-run, Eden whiffed on it, but was saved when no one covered second base, allowing Murray to reach. Then Hayley Kobie got a piece of a Gardner delivery and poked it into right field for the Raiders’ ninth hit, allowing Murray to race home with the winning run.
All of this followed Solvay’s state semifinal against Mechanicville, a team with a rich history of success that includes six state championships in the last 15 years.
Neither side budged until the top of the third, when the Bearcats got to Raiders pitcher Kristyn Alonzo, starting with Jordan Micheletti’s double off the wall that Micheletti thought was a home run, but fell just short of going out.
Though Brandi Pidkaminy struck out, the third strike was dropped, and Micheletti raced to third. Then a passed ball allowed Micheletti to speed home and put Solvay ahead 1-0.
Mechanicville’s lone hits against Gardner came in the bottom of the fourth. Neither of them left the infield, and Gardner prevented anything further.
Then Solvay’s defense took over. Micheletti’s diving catch in the fifth prevented one Raiders hit, while Molly McGuire and Sydney Cimini dove for foul balls and snagged them to help preserve the shutout.
Not content with that, McGuire, in the top of the sixth, singled home Brenna Poli with an insurance run that, as it turned out, Gardner didn’t need as she shut down Mechanicville to send the Bearcats to the brink of ultimate glory – where Eden, and Jill Murray, would keep them from taking that final step.