After falling into an early three-run hole, Thomas A. Edison powered to a 9-6 softball victory over Elmira Notre Dame on Friday afternoon to take a big step toward the Interscholastic Athletic Conference South Large School title.
Katelyn Warren, Molleigh Malanoski and Dannielle Callear hit two-run homers and Michelle Woychak swatted an RBI double in the fifth inning that gave the Spartans the lead for good.
Edison (12-2, 10-1 IAC) could have been looking at a three-way tie for first in the loss column with Notre Dame and Waverly. Instead, the Spartans are alone atop the standings heading to their final two league games. They host Tioga at 10 a.m. Saturday in a suspended game that will be resumed in the second inning, then travel to Watkins Glen on Monday.
“There was a lot riding on today and we just put the fun back in it,” Edison coach Becky Cooper said. “We had to put the fun back in our dugout and that’s kind of what they were working on today, just having fun playing the game.”
Alivia Clark went 2-for-3 with a solo homer, RBI double and a sacrifice fly that gave the Crusaders a 3-0 lead in the third inning. Mackenzie Maloney added two doubles, a single and three RBIs for Notre Dame, and Mackenzie Mahajan had two hits and scored twice.
Notre Dame’s 15-0 loss to Edison on April 9 was called after five innings because of the mercy rule. Despite falling short in the rematch against the state’s third-ranked Class C team, the 11th-ranked Crusaders (14-3, 10-3) were much sharper this time around.
“It was a great game for people to come and watch,” Notre Dame coach Steve Weber said. “The way we looked the first time, this shows how far we have come as a team this year. … I’m proud of how our kids played today. We just kept battling the whole game.”
Said Warren: “We definitely thought they were going to come back like they did and they were ready to play us this time. I think the first time was just a little mistake. They definitely came back and they were hungry and we just had to fight it out.”
The Spartans were coming off a 2-0, 11-inning loss to Waverly on Thursday in which Edison pitcher Mckenzie Slaven had a perfect game into the eighth inning. She returned to pitch a complete game Friday.
“Sometimes it’s really hard to just come back and forget about it, but I think we did very well mentally in preparing ourselves for this game and just forgetting about (Thursday),” Warren said.
With a steady breeze blowing out, Warren’s long two-run homer brought Edison within 3-2 in the bottom of the third. Once they found their stroke Friday, the Spartans were hard to stop. All of their runs and all 11 of their hits came in their final four offensive innings. Eight players had hits, with Warren, Woychak and Alle Jamison contributing two apiece.
“Once we got our first hit I think everyone saw that it is easy to get a hit if you just believe in yourself and trust yourself,” Warren said. “Once we get one hit we just keep rolling.”
Malanoski pulled a homer over the right-field fence to give the Spartans a 4-3 lead in the fourth. After the Crusaders scored on a Maloney single to tie the score in the fifth, Edison took the lead for good with three runs in the bottom of the inning after Clark retired the first two batters. Woychak stepped up in the batter’s box on a pitch and doubled over the shortstop’s head to drive in Zoe Derr with the go-ahead run. Kristina Lashik followed with a two-run single.
Callear’s two-run homer in the sixth made it 9-4.
“You look and see she gave up nine runs, but I thought Alivia pitched pretty well,” Weber said. “There were a couple of walks to lead off the inning that ended up scoring. I think their lineup’s tough. I’m surprised they don’t score more runs. I’m not sure what it is with us. They seem to score with us better than some of the other teams.”
Three straight doubles from Mahajan, Clark and Maloney plated two runs in the seventh before Slaven capped a 10-strikeout effort with back-to-back strikeouts to end the game.