May 31, 2012 Phil Blackwell Uncategorized
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.
For the Bearcats, the no. 2 seed in Class B, the end was particularly painful as no. 11 seed Christian Brothers Academy continued its string of surprises by knocking off the Bearcats 6-3 in the Class B semifinals at Gillette.
And at Hopkins Road Park, WG could not beat Liverpool for the second straight time in the Class AA semifinals, dropping a tough 5-4 decision to the Warriors.
Solvay’s 18-1 record and no. 6 state ranking, combined with early playoff ousters from the likes of Adirondack and Westhill, had made the Bearcats the consensus favorite to win it all.
However, CBA had momentum built up from road playoff wins at Homer and General Brown in the previous two rounds, and also had a pitcher, Jordan Sheridan, fully capable of containing the potent Bearcats lineup.
Sheridan lived up to her billing, keeping Solvay off the board in the first five innings, even though Nicole Antonacci would double three times off her and get four hits overall, while Taylor Guinta added three hits. But two of Solvay’s most potent hitters, Chelsie Delperuto and Julie Gardner, did not manage a hit in six combined plate appearances.
Still, the game was only 1-0 when, in the top of the sixth, Sheridan’s run-scoring hit keyed a four-run rally where Gabby Damico also drove in a pair of runs.
Down 5-0, Solvay would make a comeback attempt, earning a run in the sixth and two more in the seventh before Sheridan, who finished with eight strikeouts, got the final out. In defeat, Bearcats pitcher Jackie Gardner struck out six.
Hours later, West Genesee went after a Liverpool side bent on avenging last year’s AA semifinal defeat to the Wildcats, and nearly made it two years in a row.
All game long, WG was battling from behind after the Warriors struck for three runs in the bottom of the first. From there, pitcher Morgan Nichols settled down, not allowing any runs over the next four frames.
WG poked across a run in the top of the sixth, but Liverpool countered with two runs in the bottom of the sixth, making it 5-1 – and they would prove pivotal.
For in the seventh, the Wildcats, down to its last three outs, erupted for three runs, Nichols smashing a home run and earning a pair of RBIs as Tess Andrews and Trish Andrews also drove in runs. But the Warriors held on as pitcher Dana Nicoletti escaped that last jam.