A few hours before Wednesday's CCAA Division 1 high school softball game against rival Fredonia, Dunkirk coach John Sliwa told Emily Hanlon she'd be called up from jayvee to lead off the batting order.
The seventh grader went 3 for 4 with an RBI and two runs scored while Joyce Bomasuto went the distance in the circle as the Lady Marauders downed the Lady Hillbillies, 6-5, in a back-and-forth struggle that went down to the final out.
OBSERVER Photo by Roger Coda
Katie Hanlon?(5) is congratulated by teammate Joyce Bomasuto (11) after scoring a run during their CCAA?Division 1 high school softball game against Fredonia. The Lady Marauders were victorious over the Lady Hillbillies, 6-5.
"She's fast," Sliwa said of his new addition. "She puts the ball in play. It's tough to get her out."
Bomasuto allowed four runs and struck out two in seven innings of work.
"She would not let me take the ball out of her hands," Sliwa said.
"I asked her a couple of times and she said, 'No way, this is my game.' She stepped up and we played a better game because of it. That's what leadership is all about."
Fredonia struck first as McKenna Leid scored on a sacrifice fly in the top of the first. Dunkirk answered back with two in the bottom half of the inning as Bomasuto helped her own cause by crossing home plate on a Lacy Clark pop fly.
The Lady Marauders added another run in the bottom of the third as an Emily Hanlon reached base on an error. Bomasuto reached on a botched double-play attempt while Khee Nance did the same after another Fredonia error. A Kelsey Drummond sacrifice fly allowed Hanlon to score and extended the lead to 3-1.
Dunkirk added another run in the fourth as Emily Hanlon scored sister Katie on an RBI single.
However, the Lady Hillbillies came back in the top of the fifth as a Katie Webster pop fly was dropped to put her on second. A bunt by Maddie Crandall allowed Webster to score after a throwing error. Fredonia tied the game after a passed ball brought Crandall home. After Bre Dahn was hit by a pitch, Baylee Tarnowski singled to bring home Morgan Genovese and give Fredonia a 4-3 lead.
The advantage wouldn't last for long as Emily Hanlon scored Clark to tie the game at 4-all after five innings.
Dunkirk tallied the eventual go-ahead runs in the bottom of the sixth as a Bomasuto grounder was misplayed and allowed her to reach with a single. Nance moved to first on a throwing error which moved Bomasuto to third. Drummond hit a sacrifice fly to deep center field to bring both home and provide the Lady Marauders with a two-run lead.
"She struggled," Sliwa said, regarding Drummond. "She had a couple tough at-bats and she knows it. When it came down to crunch time, she hit a two-RBI sacrifice fly. You don't see those very often."
It wasn't over yet as Fredonia attempted another comeback.
Genovese reached with a single and Nicole Balzer brought her home with a double. With a runner on second and two out, Tarnowski hit a liner directly to Sarah Hanlon and ended the game.
"It's great softball," Sliwa said. "It's a tough division. Every day is like another battle. You don't know who's going to win. We've been struggling through some things as a team and we have to work on them. Today, we picked it up and played intense, emotional ball."
Nance supported the Lady Marauders with a 2-for-3 afternoon as she also reached on a fielder's choice and an intentional walk. Katie Hanlon recorded two hits off the bench for Dunkirk.
Tarnowski gave up six runs on 12 hits and struck out seven opponents in defeat for the young Lady Hillbillies.
"It was well-played, but we had a few mental lapses," Fredonia coach Joe Pucciarelli said. "Those were our young kids. We have an eighth-grade shortstop, seventh-grade third baseman. The only thing about this is they can get better in these situations. Every game, we've been getting better. We'll overcome this and hopefully next time we'll really be clicking.
"We got behind early, battled back, went ahead, battled back," he continued. "There's no time clock in baseball or softball. They have to get you out. Today we almost did it."
Fredonia plays Jamestown while Dunkirk hosts Southwestern today.