Thursday June 6, 2013 | By:Michael J. Petro | Sports
Pictured above top, Carly Nasca slides in safely at the plate in Eden’s Class B-1 championship victory over Depew. (Photo courtesy of David Eckhardt)
Eden nearly continued an incredible run as a playoff underdog into at least extra innings in the Class B crossover final but its season came to a screeching halt with a play at the plate.
Monday’s (June 3) game, which was started in the third inning after being postponed from two days earlier, ended with a Raiders’ pinch runner being thrown out at home trying to take an extra base on a Carley Nasca sacrifice bunt.
After knocking off the top three seeds to win a Class B-1 title, Eden fell just a little bit short to a fellow sixth seed and the Class B-2 champion Falconer, 1-0, at Dunkirk. It was Eden’s first sectional title since the early-1990s.
The crossover final had been postponed Saturday at Sunshine Park in West Seneca due to rain and lightning with same score in the bottom of the third.
Sophomore Abby Courtney finished off her shutout Monday, showing poise in escaping a few Eden rallies. Eden freshman Jill Murray also threw four scoreless innings Monday after Nasca pitched the first three in the portion of the game played two days earlier.
“We just didn’t get our bats moving. We were waiting and waiting and you can’t do that against an experienced team and good pitcher,” Eden head coach Marisa Fallacaro said. “I was happy with our defense and Jill came in and pitched a great game, but we just didn’t get the offense going. We knew with only four more at-bats that we’d have to get it done quickly.”
Falconer, typically a sectional power, was like Eden this season in that it was a younger team that came of age in the playoffs. The Golden Falcons completed the game-ending double play starting with catcher Shannon Gunnell throwing out the runner at first and then Allison Minella sending the ball back to the plate where the tag was applied in plenty of time.
Sabrina Kraska had led off the inning reaching on an infield error. Falconer’s heads-up play to end the game actually came from a team that has experienced some defensive hiccups this season.
“We made them commit to coming home,” Falconer head coach Paul Lombardo said. “My catcher jumped on that and she blocks the plate so well. She’ll sacrifice her body. Allison did a good job, running to the play and didn’t make the throw until she saw the runner commit.”
Eden also had a runner reach third base in the bottom of fourth when Murray doubled and moved over before being stranded. Nasca started the fifth with a hit and moved to second but Eden couldn’t bring her in either.
“We came in with the same gameplan that we’ve always had, which is to play fundamental softball,” said Fallacaro, who stayed with the same batting order. “Offensively we’ve always been aggressive and try to put down a bunt when we can. We were hoping to wait on a few of her pitches because she walked a couple of batters on Saturday but she was sound.”
Falconer scored the game’s only run on Saturday as Kaylei Russell tripled home Katie Hines with one out. Nasca got out of a first and third jam with a strikeout.
“We can overcome an error or a double to lead off the inning as long as we react to the plays that are in front of us,” Lombardo said. “We talked a lot about fielding bunts. When you get in a game this close, you know teams are going to bunt. We tried it, they tried it. It’s the team that makes the fewest mistakes that wins.”
From left: Eden softball captains Cassidy Genco, Jocelyn Armbruster and Courtney Cross hold up the championship plaque. (Photo courtesy of David Eckhardt)
Led by Murray in the pitching circle, the sixth-seeded Raiders claimed the Class B-1 Section VI championship with a 6-5 win over top-seed Depew on May 29 at Sunshine Park.
“We’re a six-seed — we struggled in division play, we just didn’t play that well but we kept getting better. And to come in here and beat a team like Depew, it’s crazy,” Fallacaro told The Sun that day.
Once down 6-2, Depew closed to 6-5 and had the tying run on third base, but Murray finished her gem with her 15th strikeout to end the game. “I just knew we couldn’t let that run score,” Murray said afterward.
Kraska was 2-for-3 with a run and an RBI and Liz Karstedt also had a run and RBI, while Lauren Gugino and Kelly Staub each reached base three times. Eden scored two runs in each of the first three innings.