Marsh throws shutout to lead Lady ‘Billies to 4-0 playoff win

A playoff shutout for Fredonia

OBSERVER Photo by Braden Carmen Fredonia’s Sydney Bigelow settles underneath a fly ball to make a catch during Thursday’s game, in Fredonia.

The last time Fredonia starting pitcher Maddy Marsh stepped into the pitcher’s circle at SUNY Fredonia, the then-freshman picked up a win over the Dunkirk Lady Marauders to earn a spot in the sectional finals a year ago.

This time around, the sophomore starter for the Lady ‘Billies looked as comfortable as ever.

Marsh pitched a complete game shutout to lead Fredonia to victory, 4-0 over 6-seed Wilson, in the Section VI, Class B2 softball quarterfinals on Thursday at SUNY Fredonia.

“I told the girls afterwards, at this stage of the season, it’s survive and move on,” said Fredonia head coach Jesse Beers. “There’s no such thing as an ugly playoff win, especially when you shut a team out.”

Fredonia (12-2, 3-seed) gave Marsh an early lead in the bottom of the first inning, as three runners came across to score, despite one hit in the inning. Kazlin Beers scored the first run of the game on a dropped fly ball to right field — which likely would have been a sacrifice fly had the ball been caught — off the bat of Grace Mroczka. Later in the inning, Maggie Mignoli drove in a run on a fielder’s choice and Sydney Bigelow came in to score on a throwing error by the Wilson catcher on a stolen base attempt by Fredonia. All nine batters came to the plate in the first inning for Fredonia, and while the bases were left loaded, Fredonia held a 3-0 lead after one inning of play.

OBSERVER Photo by Braden Carmen Fredonia’s Maddy Marsh releases a pitch during Thursday’s Section VI, Class B2 softball contest, against 6-seed Wilson, at SUNY Fredonia. Marsh threw a complete game shutout in the victory.

“Kazlin (Beers) led off with a base hit and we had her in scoring position right away. I thought Caelin (Holt) got a tough called third strike, the ball almost bounced. But the ball Grace (Mroczka) hit into right field was no easy play. I can understand it being an error, but on a day like today, that’s a tough play,” said Coach Beers. “I thought we did a nice job with discipline at the plate. … Even though we technically only had one hit in the inning, we hit the ball hard two times besides that in the inning and we also took bases on balls.”

The rest of the contest was not as favorable for the Fredonia offense, as time after time a Fredonia threat was put to rest by solid Wilson defense and unfortunate luck for Fredonia. The Lady ‘Billies had their chances, but the ball always seemed to be hit right at a Wilson defender. Marsh was thrown out at first base from the outfield grass to end the third inning, which kept Mignoli from scoring. The next inning, Caelin Holt was thrown out at the plate after a fly ball off the bat of Bigelow to end the fourth frame.

“People are going to look at this and see we only had five hits, but we hit the ball well today,” said Coach Beers after Thursday’s game. “We probably hit six or seven at-’em balls, either in the infield or right at someone in the outfield. It wasn’t like we weren’t hitting the ball hard.”

Fredonia manufactured a run in the bottom of the fifth inning after a leadoff single by Kelly Gullo. A sacrifice bunt by Mignoli resulted in an errant throw to first base. Gullo never hesitated on the basepaths and scored all the way from first base on the play for the fourth run of the game. Fredonia threatened again in the sixth inning, but the bases were left loaded.

“All the little things we’ve worked on since March 9, little things are going to be the difference in tight games — I thought we did the little things right today,” said Coach Beers.

OBSERVER Photo by Braden Carmen Fredonia’s Kazlin Beers slides into third base safely during Thursday’s playoff game at SUNY Fredonia between Fredonia and Wilson.

With the way Marsh pitched on Thursday, Fredonia could afford to be a little unlucky on offense. The closest Wilson came to threatening Fredonia’s lead was with one out in the top of the sixth inning, with runners on second and third. Marsh responded with a strikeout and a lineout induced to end the half inning.

“I don’t think there was any panic on our team. Even when they had their little rally with girls on second and third, you could see that our girls were okay. They were fine, they’ve been in this situation before,” said Coach Beers.

Marsh finished with only three hits allowed and just one walk issued, with five strikeouts in the complete game shutout.

“She was amped up, you could tell,” said Coach Beers of Marsh on Thursday. “Three hits in seven innings, and they’ve (Wilson) won some games this year so it’s not like they’re slouches. Plus with five strikeouts, that means 16 outs behind her. We played great defense. … Teams might get some hits off us, but you’re going to earn it.”

Fredonia now moves on to the Section VI, Class B2 semifinals on Tuesday, where the Lady ‘Billies will match up with the winner of 2-seed Royalton-Hartland and 10-seed Southwestern.

Twitter: @bradencarmen