A midseason call-up from the junior varsity softball team, Thomas A. Edison freshman McKenzie Slaven rose to the occasion in Wednesday’s Interscholastic Athletic Conference Small School championship game at Cornell’s Niemand-Robison Field.
The right-hander pitched a one-hitter with 10 strikeouts and one walk as the Spartans claimed their second straight title with a 5-0 win over Union Springs. Edison defeated the Wolves, 13-0, in last season’s championship game.
“She did a phenomenal job,” Edison coach Becky Cooper said of her freshman pitcher, who improved to 11-0. “That kid is like a rock. She just doesn’t rattle and I like that in her. She just doesn’t think about the stress and the pressure that this game has. I love how she works with (catcher) Kate (Warren). She’s been working really hard to develop different pitches, so she’s not just that power pitcher, she wants to be that finesse pitcher and hit her spots.”
“I don’t think I’ve ever seen a freshman throw like that,” Edison senior third baseman Chelsea Storch added. “She’s stepped up to the plate so much this year that we can’t thank her enough. She works so hard and that shows clearly every day.”
The Spartans stranded runners at second and third to end the bottom of the first inning. The game was scoreless through 3½ innings, but Edison broke through in the bottom of the fourth.
Junior Michelle Woychak walked to lead off the inning. That was followed by a sharp single to right from Storch, another single to right from senior Megan Cook. Junior Zoe Derr had the big hit of the inning with a two-run double that was nearly foul down the third-base line.
Alle Jamison reached on an error by the Union Springs first baseman and ultimately scored on Warren’s double to left center. Five runs scored on four hits during the inning for the Spartans.
“I said to the girls that we needed that breakthrough hit and I really think that walk to lead off the inning was key,” Cooper said. ” … Sometimes once we get started, it just moves on from there.”
“We only had one really good inning, but hey, one inning is just enough to win the ballgame,” Storch added.
Sam Walawender had the lone hit for the Wolves. She also walked to lead off the fifth inning. Marisa Valentino allowed six hits, struck out two, and walked two.
Cook finished with two hits for the Spartans, including a triple in the sixth. She tried to stretch the triple into an inside-the-park home run, but was thrown out at home.
“It feels really good,” Cooper said. “This is something that the girls have been working for the last few years. These seniors I’ve had since they were in eighth grade, so it’s something they’ve been working really hard for and they really wanted to prove that they were contenders in this division.”