A four-run second inning put Maine-Endwell in control for keeps on the way to an 8-3 softball win against The Ursuline School on Saturday at Union-Endicott High.
The Spartans held an 8-1 lead through six before matters grew oh-so-mildly interesting in this Class A state quarterfinal, played in 80-ish temperatures and through an early-game spritz of refreshing precipitation.
The guests from New Rochelle turned their first five batters of the seventh into baserunners before going quietly from there.
Maine-Endwell most recently won a state championship in 2018, its third in succession. Of course, the tournament was contested in neither 2020 nor 2021 (COVID-19), putting the Spartans in position to win four of the most recent available six Class A titles.
M-E moves along to 10 a.m., June 9 semifinal at Moriches Athletic Complex (Suffolk County) against Section 11 champion Bayport-Bluepoint, 4-2 winner Friday against fellow Long Islander MacArthur.
The final is to be played beginning 11 a.m. June 10.
By the numbers
Maine-Endwell: Lauren Dundon 2-for-4, two RBI; Olivia Lewis 2-for-4, two RBI; Aleciyah Brodley 2-for-3, two RBI; Kaety L’Amoreaux 1-for-2, two runs, two walks.
Ursuline: Emilia Mancusi 2-for-3, run RBI; Ava Papaleo home run.
Big lead constructed
Maine-Endwell scrounged its first run of the second on a walk and an error, made it 2-0 on a groundout, then 4-0 _ following a hit by pitch, Kaylee Hurba’s single and a walk to L’Amoreaux − when Dundon’s base hit to right-center scored a couple more.
Ursuline drew within 4-1 in the fourth when Mancusi singled in a two-out run.
L’Amoreaux singled and scored in the fourth to make it a 5-1 difference, and M-E stretched it to 8-1 in the sixth on a run-scoring single by Lewis and, following a blooped double to center by Isabel Hunter, Brodley’s two-run single to center.
A tad interesting late
The Koalas’ seventh-inning mini-rally commenced with a blast of a home run to left field by Papaleo over the fence by a bunch, it was.
“Yeah, she’s a nice player, second year on the varsity,” said Ursuline coach John Pirone, who believed that to be the freshman’s eighth homer of the season.
A runner was walked in to make it 8-3. Baserunner interference and a last-batter strikeout − following a controversial HBP/foul ball ruling − concluded matters.
Lewis sound in circle
Lewis allowed six hits, struck out nine and walked two. She was well in control of Ursuline batters before running into that spot of trouble in the last.
“She threw very well today,” said M-E coach Karleigh Eaton. “She made the batters work, through a lot of her strong pitches today. She made them swing, which is always our plan.
“She does her job, she does a great job at her job. I felt very confident in her today.”
Play of the Game
With an Ursuline runner at third and one out in the fourth, Papaleo delivered a soft liner to right field. Maine-Endwell junior Lily McNeill scooted in and made a splendid catch while easing confidently into a slide that was as potentially dicey as it was heads-up.
While the runner from third scored a batter later, that wonderful piece of defense headed off what was assuredly bigger Ursuline production.
“Just a huge game-changer in terms of our mood,” Eaton said. “It really brought us up and it brought some excitement to the game. She made an awesome play on that and I was proud of how aggressive she was.
“It just goes to show that our girls are great defensively and they’re willing to work behind our pitcher.”
** Pirone: “It was tough. Going into the last couple innings we were one ground ball away, making a play and it being a closer game. But even closer to the end, we’ve been very resilient all year and today we fought.”
** And more from Pirone, on the Koalas’ season: “We started off 1-3 and after that went on a 19-1 run. We were resilient, we had great senior leadership, we got a lot from the young girls, 9th- and 10th-graders. I’m proud of the girls, the season was great, and I hope we get back here next year.”
** Eaton, on what grew somewhat tense late-game: “We’ve been in that situation before. I trust them defensively, so I wasn’t too worried as a coach_ maybe they were a little bit on their toes as players. But I trust them to make plays in the field and it was a matter of get the ball, make an out, keep it simple.”
** More from Eaton, looking forward: “Let’s go to work, let’s get the job done. We’re getting toward Long Island next week so, we’ve got to be focused in practice this upcoming week.
“We have a goal in mind and that goal is to be in the championship game. We’ll take it one game at a time.”
This article originally appeared on Binghamton Press & Sun-Bulletin: M-E on to Class A state softball final four with win against Ursuline