Elmira needed a win in Thursday’s softball game with Binghamton to capture their first Southern Tier Athletic Conference West Division title, but with strong pitching and timely hits the Patriots were the spoiler.
Makayla Pourby held the Elmira bats in check and the Express defense faltered in a 9-3 loss at Elmira Free Academy. An idle Horseheads team captured its third consecutive STAC West title with the Elmira loss.
The Blue Raiders (12-6, 9-5 STAC) advance to play a STAC semifinal Monday at the BAGSAI Complex in the Town of Dickinson. The winner will play in the championship game later in the day. The Blue Raiders are seeking their third consecutive championship. Start times and the other teams are to be determined.
Pourby, an eighth-grader, struck out 11 and walked none over seven innings. All of Elmira’s seven hits were singles. Kaily LaForce led the Patriots attack, going 4-for-5 with two RBIs.
Lindsay Roman was 2-for-3 and Emily Saltsman had two RBIs to lead Elmira (10-9, 8-6 STAC).
Elmira starting first baseman Abbie Topping injured her leg while stretching for a throw in the second inning and left the game.
“The injury kind of turned our whole team around, but give credit to Binghamton,” Elmira coach Jeff Edwards said. “They had a strong pitching outing today and hit the heck out of the ball.”
Binghamton (9-7) scored two runs in the second, one in the third and four in the fourth to take a commanding 7-0 lead before Elmira plated a run on a Sarah Topping RBI single in the bottom of the fourth.
The Patriots responded with two runs in the fifth before Elmira rallied for a pair of runs in the seventh on an Emily Saltsman two RBI single. Pourby ended the threat by striking out the last two batters.
Edwards was “very disappointed” in the game in which the Express committed six errors.
“We had bad luck, a bad injury, and bad umpiring,” Edwards said. “It all culminated and it just wasn’t our day.”
Edwards was ejected from the game in the fourth inning. He pulled his team off the field, thinking they had recorded the third out by tagging one of two Patriot runners out at second base. One runner, however, was the batter who had continued running after flying out to center field, so play continued.