SULLIVAN TWP. — Certain games can define softball seasons. Black River’s 5-4 win over Wellington on Monday might just be that game.
Playing in a Patriot Athletic Conference Stars Division slobberknocker that could have gone either way, the Pirates (4-8, 2-4) walked off winners with a two-out, seventh-inning single by Bailey Scheck.
For a team that started two seniors and five freshmen, the victory was more than just a league win, it was a morale builder.
“It’s dynamite,” Black River coach Lauren Rogers said. “It’s proving to them they can pitch games and win them. It’s proving they can get that big hit. It’s proving to each other they can work together. This is a big confidence booster.”
The Pirates showed their resolve after Hannah Barco (2-3) allowed Wellington (8-5, 4-3) to take the lead on a wild pitch in the top of the seventh. It was the third time Barco’s lack of control allowed the Dukes to score.
In the bottom of the inning, three freshmen took over for Black River.
Kayla Gardener started the rally with a one-out single to right and stole second after Tori Smart popped out to third.
Up stepped Barco, who slapped a single right back up the box to tie things. Scheck followed with a single to left that Sami Cucuzza misplayed into a two-base error as Barco raced around the diamond with the winning run.
“It’s huge,” Scheck said. “It’s indescribable. We went in there, wanted to win so bad and we did. We came through.
“Our team pulled it together. I’m so happy. We have to start thinking we’re a good team and it will keep going. I was thinking, ‘I have to get this ball in play, get on base, move the runner and not get out.’”
Barco wasn’t thinking anything at all in her at bat. She was staring at a defeat despite a complete-game performance where she gave up only four hits, two earned runs and struck out 10.
So when her two-out single found grass, Barco was elated.
“Oh my God, it was a weight off my shoulders,” she said. “I was so happy when I hit it. I don’t even know how to describe it.
“In that situation I don’t think. I don’t like to put pressure on myself. This was big for our team. After this game, we believe more in ourselves. We know we’re a good team. We’ll just keep building off this one.”
That’s what Rogers is banking on as the Pirates travel to Wellington today in hopes of completing a two-game sweep. Black River has won three of its last five games and Barco is on a two-game winning streak in the circle.
“This has been something we’ve been preaching all along,” Rogers said. “You have to stay mentally focused for seven innings. The game is not over until that third out in the seventh inning. This proves if you stay in it, you can fight back and win.”
Contact Brad Bournival at firstname.lastname@example.org.