Windsor has won its share of Section 4 and state softball titles, but a Southern Tier Athletic Conference title had eluded the Black Knights.
Paige Rauch’s RBI triple plated Danielle Cary in the fifth inning for the winning run and Mara Kohlbach tossed a five-hitter as Windsor edged Maine-Endwell, 2-1, in the STAC title game Monday at the BAGSAI Complex.
The victory followed an impressive 7-2 semifinal victory a couple of hours earlier over defending champion Horseheads in a rematch of last year’s STAC final won by the Blue Raiders, 12-4.
“It means a lot, getting this for the first time,” Windsor senior first baseman Kylie Buchek said. “We’ve always fallen short, but I think this will really propel us into Sectionals. We’ve always gone in with a loss and hung our heads.”
Neither Windsor or Maine-Endwell had reason to hang its heads after a well-played final, one the Black Knights finally managed to gain the upper hand in late thanks to the hitting of Rauch and pitching of Kohlbach.
With the score knotted at 1, Cary reached on a bunt single with one out in the top of the fifth inning. Cary stole second before Rauch launched a deep shot to right for a triple that easily scored Cary to put Windsor ahead 2-1.
Rauch was thrown out at the plate trying to score on the hit, suffering a right wrist injury in the process that forced her exit from the game, but she had dealt the decisive blow.
“When I’m hitting I imagine a triangle, and (the pitch) was in the triangle which was my strike zone,” said Rauch, who said she should be fine for Windsor’s first Section 4 playoff game in a week. “I wasn’t hitting the ball well in the beginning of the game, but I got that one.”
Kohlbach took care of the rest. She allowed a one-out single by M-E’s Taylor Chidester in the bottom of the fifth before retiring the final eight batters, the final out coming when pinch-hitter Brooke Singer grounded out to first baseman Buchek.
The sophomore struck out six, her calm demeanor in the circle belying what she was feeling throughout the game.
“I was definitely nervous,” Kohlbach said. “But then I realized I had good backup behind me defensively and we were making good contact. I was getting more confident as the game went on.”
Kohlbach and M-E pitcher Kim Jones traded zeros over the first three innings before Windsor scored the game’s first run in the fourth.
Allison Lockwood singled to left to lead off the inning, then stole second base. One out later, Emma Benson boomed a double to deep center that scored Lockwood for a 1-0 Windsor lead.
M-E came back with a run in the fourth to tie on Daniella Dean’s two-out single up the middle that plated MiKayla Garbarino. But with runners on first and second and a chance for M-E to grab the lead, Kohlbach got MiKayla Klym to ground out to the shortstop to end the threat.
Jones tossed a six-hitter for M-E (14-4), striking out six.
In the semifinal victory over Horseheads, Windsor took command early with a six-run first inning.
Jordyn Steele had a two-run double in the inning, that following RBI singles by DeAngelo and Kohlbach. That was more than sufficient support for Rauch, who pitched a seven-hitter with eight strikeouts.
“This truly tested us, those are teams that put the ball in play,” Windsor coach Bill Waldron said of beating Horseheads and M-E. “They’ll make you earn most of those 21 outs, and that will prepare us for the next couple of weeks.”
M-E advanced to the title game with a 3-2 victory in 10 innings over Susquehanna Valley, breaking a 1-all tie with two runs in the 10th inning. Natalie Longo’s sacrifice fly put M-E ahead 2-1, and the Spartans added another run later in the inning on an error.
Chidester had a solo homer for M-E and Kasey Petrysyn a solo homer for SV (9-8). Chidester’s blast came in the first inning and Petrysyn’s homer was in the fifth.