Jun 02, 2013 Phil Blackwell Uncategorized
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.
The Bearcats expanded on that 2-0 lead in the third, with a single and bunt putting runners on first and second with nobody out before Chelsie Delperuto singled home Nicole Antonacci. A passed ball led to Julie Gardner’s two-run single and a 5-0 margin.
“It was good to get on top,” said Merrill. “It helped our team relax.”
With a big lead, Jackie Gardner never let HP respond. She struck out nine Golden Knights in the first four innings while only allowing a pair of hits.
By contrast, Cole left in the fourth, replaced by Leah Harter, but Solvay kept on hitting. It tacked on two more runs on an HP throwing error after Julie Gardner drew another walk, and Kiersten DiBello hit a bases-clearing double that put the Bearcats into double digits.
Cimini’s two-run, two-out single in the fifth put on the final touches, and two innings later, Jackie Gardner finished off her shutout and ignited a celebration years in the marking.