On a day when runs were harder to come by than usual, Windsor relied on its old standbys of pitching and defense to return to the pinnacle of New York high school softball.
Morgan Starley tossed a three-hitter and the Black Knights scored a pair of third-inning runs to take the lead for good on their way to a 2-1 victory over Section 9’s Marlboro in the state Class B title game at the Adirondack Sports Complex on Saturday.
It is the fourth state title for Windsor (24-2) in 10 years. The Black Knights also won Class B titles in 2004, 2008 and 2011.
It was an especially sweet one for Starley, a senior who was the losing pitcher in last year’s 3-0 state semifinal loss to eventual state champion Chatham of Section 2.
“It feels so good, I’ve wanted this since I was in seventh grade,” Starley said. “When I came here in 2011, and saw it, it was so perfect to me.
“Then to come last year and to lose to Chatham, it was so heartbreaking. When the season started, we didn’t think we could get this far, because we’re so young. It feels so good, like I’ve accomplished something. It means a lot.”
Windsor mustered only four hits against Marlboro pitcher Aubrey Bianco, but got two of them in a two-run third inning that was the difference.
With one out, Courtney Vaccaro belted a double down the left-field line, and Paige Rauch followed with a bunt single to put runners on first and third. Windsor then loaded the bases when Allison Lockwood reached on a fielder’s choice.
The next Black Knights batter, Emma Benson, hit a sacrifice fly to left field that scored Vaccaro, and Rauch came in to score later on the play when the throw home from left field got away from Marlboro catcher Nina Wimberly, putting Windsor ahead 2-0.
Windsor’s offense did little after that, but its defense did plenty in stifling several Marlboro scoring threats.
In the fourth inning, with runners on first and second with two out, catcher Lockwood made a diving catch of a foul ball off the bat of Cassie LaPointe to end the inning.
In the fifth, with a runner on first and two out, shortstop Benson made a diving stop of a sharp grounder by Andrea Schoonmaker to rob a hit, getting the force at second for the final out.
Marlboro did plate a run in the sixth on Bianco’s one-out RBI double, and Bianco was on third with two out but Starley got LaPoint to pop out to end the inning.
Marlboro (23-2) went down in order in the seventh, the last out coming when first baseman Ashley Kamp caught Amber Mianti’s liner.
“We were very fortunate to get here, and very, very fortunate to win,” Windsor coach Bill Waldron said. “We wasted quite a few opportunities today, we left a lot of baserunners on in both games, and made it a little harder on ourselves.
“But when you get to this level you have to grind it out. It’s going to be a defensive, well-pitched game that will win you a championship. Our defense was tremendous all day, Emma made two great plays in the title game.”
Marlboro reached the title game with a 3-0, nine-inning semifinal victory over defending champion Chatham. Dukes coach Jennifer Veronesi thought that game may have taken a little bit out of her team.
“We had a long game, we put a lot of emotion and energy into that game,” Veronesi said. “Unfortunately our bats were a little flat and we weren’t able to get that extra run across the plate.”
Windsor defeated Section 5 foe Wayland-Cohocton, 3-1, in the semifinals.
The Black Knights fell behind 1-0 on a line-drive home run by W-C pitcher Mackenzie Weber leading off the fourth inning, a shot that just carried over the center field fence.
Windsor responded with two runs in its half of the fourth. Rachel D’Angelo singled to lead off and after getting sacrificed to second, went to third on a single by Alexa Carey.
Vaccaro laid down a squeeze bunt, reaching for a single as D’Angelo scored to tie it at 1. Two passed balls followed, the second allowing Carey to score to put Windsor ahead 2-1.
Rauch’s RBI single in the sixth plated Liz Wickizer for the third Windsor run.
Starley tossed a complete game, scattering five hits. She retired the last 11 batters she faced.
“She made key pitches in key moments,” Waldron said of Starley. ” Today we talked about, not knowing these teams, that it’s a feeling-out process in those few at-bats. She did a great job on location, Morgan made great pitches on 1-2, 0-2 counts.”