The Bombers softball team won the Empire 8 regular season conference title with a sweep of the St. John Fisher Cardinals at Kostrinsky Field yesterday afternoon. They tacked on runs in late innings that powered them to 9–4 and 2–1 victories, respectively.
Ithaca had a season-best 14 hits in game one, and were down 4–2 before scoring seven unanswered runs over the fifth and sixth innings. Freshman outfielder Rachel Dell’Orto was 3-for-4 at the plate and had the game tying RBI single in the fifth inning. She also scored two runs.
Dell’Orto said the offensive adjustment late in the game was all about staying calm at the plate and taking outside pitches.
“At first we let the ball come to us instead of us going to the ball,” she said. “When we get anxious, we don’t hit as well and tend to jump on pitchers out of the strike zone.”
Sophomore first baseman Carianne D’Alessandro had a two-out, two run single in the fifth inning that gave the Blue and Gold the lead for good. She finished the game 2-for-3 and was one of four Bombers with multi-hit performances.
Senior pitcher and third baseman Allison Greaney threw a complete game without giving up an earned run, picking up her 10th win of the season. She said she it was important for the Bombers not to give the St. John Fisher too much confidence.
“(St. John) Fisher is a big momentum team,” she said. “If you give them a mistake they’ll run with it, so we had to make sure we put the clamp down each time they got a runner on.”
The Cardinal hitters never went down 1-2-3, but they left 10 runners on base over the course of the game thanks to Greaney’s effort.
The Bomber bats were quiet for six innings in game two, but Ithaca stayed within a run of the Cardinals in large part because of their defense. Senior pitcher and outfielder Britt Lillie earned an outfield assist in the fifth when she threw out St. John Fisher junior outfielder Megan Rogers at the plate. Freshman starter Jillian Olmstead completed a heads up double play after catching a ball hit at her and throwing to first base. Greaney made a diving catch in foul territory in the seventh inning for the second out.
Dell’Orto said the most pivotal defensive play was Greaney’s catch in the seventh inning.
“The ball was very well placed and the out inspired us to go all out on every play after that because we knew it was our last chance at controlling our chances at the conference title,” she said.
But the victory was not sealed until a walk off two-run double to left center field by sophomore outfielder Jen Biondi won the Bombers the game and the right to host the Empire 8 conference championship May 6. Sophomore first baseman and third baseman Molly O’Donnell led off the inning with a single and sophomore outfielder Adrienne Walters got on with her second bunt base hit of the game.
Biondi said she was looking to drive the ball into the gap, making sure not get too much air under it.
“I tried to keep my shoulder’s square and just get the ball out of the infield,” she said. “When I saw it in the air I was just hoping it would drop and it did.”
Greaney said the batters at the top of the order told the batters at the bottom of the order what to look for from the Cardinal pitchers throughout the afternoon.
“Early in the game the first couple batters tried to find a pattern with the other team’s pitcher and tell the lower batters what to expect,” she said. “We really paid close attention to that today and it ended up working out for us in the end.”
The South Hill squad’s five seniors were honored in a post-game ceremonies. The class of 2011, which includes Greaney, Lillie, second baseman Kait Dolan, designated player Kerry Barger and first baseman Courtney Noster, now has an all-time record of of 122–52.
The Bombers will play a doubleheader at 1 p.m. today at Buffalo State College.