Twice, the No. 2 Dunkirk Lady Marauders faced deficits of three or more runs.
However, the Lady Marauders proved why they earned the No. 2 seed as they rallied to down the No. 7 Alden Lady Bulldogs in an intense 9-8 victory in the quarterfinals of the Section 6 Class B-1 high school softball playoffs.
"I've told the girls all season long that sports are meant to beat you down," Dunkirk coach John Sliwa said. "It is all about how you recover and we recovered nicely."
OBSERVER?Photo by Roger Coda
Dunkirk’s Brittany Collins, Kati?Hanlon and Kelsey Drummond congratulate each other after scoring runs during Tuesday’s Section 6 Class B-1 quarterfinal softball game.
The Lady Bulldogs led off the game with three straight singles, all of which came around to score.
Alden also scored one more run to make the game 4-0 before Dunkirk even had a chance to bat.
"We know we didn't play our best ball," Sliwa said. "Aldyn (Carlson) wasn't very sharp early, but a lot of the hits she let up were little dribblers."
The Lady Marauders started the first of their comebacks in the bottom of the first when they put up three runs.
Khee Nance reached base on a fielder's choice which was followed by a ground-rule double by Kelsey Drummond.
Nance scored on a groundout by Kati Hanlon and Drummond scored when Joyce Bomasuto reached on an error.
Lacey Clark reached base on a walk and eventually scored on a passed ball to cut Dunkirk's deficit, 4-3.
The Lady Bulldogs threatened again in the second, but with one out and two runners in scoring position, Dunkirk centerfielder Joyce Bomasuto caught the second out and threw the third out at the plate.
"Joyce made a couple mistakes and could have buried her head, but she didn't," Sliwa said. "She kept battling. There are times I think she wants to quit, but the winner in her takes over and won't let her."
The play caused a momentum shift in the Lady Marauders' favor, but not before Alden scored another run to make it 5-3 in favor of the visitors.
While the home team may have settled down in the field, at the plate, it was still struggling to close the gap.
Dunkirk left runners on base in the second and third innings, before finally scoring in the fourth.
Alayna Carlson reached base on a fielder's choice and was batted home by Drummond's single to make it 5-4.
In the bottom of the fifth, Dunkirk came all the way back to tie the game 5-all.
Lacey Clark led off the inning with a walk and then was sacrificed over by Brittany Collins.
"Lacey had the best at-bats all game," Sliwa said. "She had two walks, was hit by a pitch and had a home run robbed from her. The three times she got on base she scored three big runs for us."
Nicole Balzer hit an RBI double to plate Clark and tie the game.
With two outs in the sixth, the Lady Bulldogs were able to string together two hits, before a ball was hit to deep center to score all three runs and give Alden an 8-5 lead.
"Aldyn came around and pitched very well in the third, fourth and fifth," Sliwa said of his pitcher. "But in the sixth, with two outs, she had a little bit of a letdown, letting the runners on and then the big hit."
Dunkirk bounced back in a big way in the bottom half of the inning.
Alayna Carlson led off with a walk and was scored by an RBI double by Nance.
Next up, Drummond was robbed of a home run, but the play advanced Nance to third in the process.
"We got robbed of two home runs," Sliwa said. "You have to give Alden all the credit in the world. They came to play and kept battling."
Nance scored on a Hanlon single which was followed by Clark being hit by a pitch.
Bomasuto reached on an error to score Hanlon to tie the game.
With two outs, Balzer laid down a squeeze which scored Clark and gave the Lady Marauders their first lead of the game.
"Nicole had a big game for us at the plate," Sliwa said. "She had an RBI double in the fifth and the squeeze in the sixth which were two big runs for us."
Dunkirk held off the Alden attack in the seventh as the Lady Bulldogs were able to load the bases, but the Lady Marauders ended the threat to advance to the Class B-1 semi-finals.
"There were times we could have made excuses," Sliwa said. "But losers make excuses. Winners find a way to win."
Aldyn Carlson finished with 10 strikeouts while scattering nine hits.
Nance led Dunkirk at the plate as she had three hits.
Dunkirk will host No. 3 Olean on Friday at 4:45 p.m.