By Mikai Bruce
In its first conference games of the season, the SUNY Plattsburgh softball team played two double headers, one against the Oswego Lakers, and the other against the Cortland Red Dragons, its first conference games of the season. The games were dramatic and action-packed and the weekend was a huge success for the Cardinals as they went 4-0, bringing their overall record to 11-3. It now tops the SUNYAC standings.
The weekend featured not one, but three walk-off victories by the Cardinals. In game one against Oswego, after being scoreless for the first seven innings, the game tied in the eighth inning. In the ninth inning, Julia Golino hit a walk-off single to right field to bring Claire Palmer home and win the game.
“I was super excited, I didn’t produce at the beginning of the game, so I knew I had to come in clutch,” Golino said.
The second game against Oswego went even better for the Cardinals, as it blew the Lakers out 9-1. This game started off close and seemed to be heading toward a similar ending to the first game, but that all changed in the fifth inning. The Cardinals scored eight runs, leading to the game being called.
A staggering amount of errors in the fifth inning by Oswego led to the Cardinals getting multiple unearned runs, causing the run-ahead rule to be put into effect. The rule states that if one team is up by eight or more runs after five innings, the umpire can stop the game.
This dominant showing capped off a successful Friday afternoon for the Cardinals.
“Our bats were on fire this game — that’s really what it was. We had good defense, good pitching, and just great at bats,” Maggiacomo said.
Winning its first two conference games is huge for morale and truly bodes well for the season when it started off so hot.
“I think we started our season off with a bang, especially our season opener playing at home. I just think the sweep kind of gave us a little boost moving forward,” Head Coach Sam Van Dorn said.
The next day, the Cardinals faced off in a double header against Van Dorn’s alma mater in the Cortland Red Dragons.
“It’s definitely surreal, you know? It feels like a fever dream, being on the other side of the line,” Van Dorn said.
Game one saw the Cardinals take an early lead of 4-2, which was extended to 5-2 until the Red Dragons caught fire in the seventh inning. After some outstanding hitting by the Red Dragons, including a home run, things were all knotted up at five. For the Cardinals to avoid extra innings, it had to come up big in the final inning. After Maggiacomo found her way to third base, it was Kelsy Waite who stepped up and hit a walk-off single to bring Maggiacomo home and ultimately win the game.
Game two saw the Cardinals yet again jump out to an early lead of 4-2. Toward the end of the game, Plattsburgh relinquished the lead after some inexplicable errors in the 6th inning, giving the Red Dragons a one-run lead. This was another moment where the Cardinals had to find their composure and dig deep in order to pull out the win.
The team’s confidence never waned after they lost the lead — the coaching staff and the dugout encouraged its defense.
At the bottom of the seventh inning, Maggiacomo was at bat, and hit a single to right field, sprinting to second on the throw. Her hit brought Kristen Langdon home, tying the game.
After a heroic performance in game one, Waite was up to bat next. Waite had two runners on base, including one at third. Once again, she stepped up in a high pressure moment by connecting with the pitch for a sacrifice fly, bringing Gwen Noll home and sealing the second game for the Cardinals.
“I just put it in place somewhere and hope for the best,” Waite said. “The team did well, and I was happy I could add on to that”.
These were two statement wins by the Cardinals against a Cortland team that was on top of the conference standings.
“Coming out on top, especially coming 4-0 in the beginning of the season, it’s a great feeling, unmatched,” Van Dorn said.
The Cardinals were the embodiment of clutch, with some fantastic wins that showed that it will be a force in the conference this season. The pitching was strong and the batters stepped up every time it needed them to, making for an incredible weekend that should boost the confidence of the Cardinals going into the rest of the season. The Cardinals play an away series April 14 and 15 against the Potsdam Bears.