U-E's softball season ends with a thud
Valley Central rolls past the Tigers
NIMMONSBURG -- Two days after reaching a peak, Union-Endicott couldn't get through a Valley.
The Tigers' impressive late-season push, which was highlighted by Saturday's sectional final win over Binghamton, came to an end Monday afternoon with a 9-0 loss to Valley Central in a first-round Class AA state softball playoff at the BAGSAI Complex.
Vikings pitcher Jane Pinckney quieted the U-E offense with a four-hit shutout, and while the Tigers continued to turn in some inspired defense, they also aided Valley Central with an error in all three innings that the Section 9 champs scored runs.
"Right from the first pitch, they had a great day," U-E coach Jim Testa said, "and we just struggled to keep up."
Valley Central, which is from Montgomery, about 12 miles northeast of Middletown, advances to host Section 1 champion North Rockland on Wednesday. The Vikings will look to earn the program's first berth in the state final four.
"Basically, I told them, 'You guys are champions. ... You're Section 4 champions,' " Testa said of his team. "We got to move on. We had a bad day at the office today. You know, you don't get a second chance in these things to come back.
"We didn't play anywhere near the way we have played the past month or so. It happens, and that team over there had something to do with it. They hit the ball hard, they forced us to make plays, they got great bunts down. So that's just what happened."
Just as U-E did to Binghamton on Saturday, the Vikings (21-2) wasted little time jumping on the scoreboard Monday, as right fielder Amber Corrigan led off with a line-drive single up the middle. Taylor Concklin then reached on a fielding error after laying down a sacrifice bunt, and Tessa Brown drove a two-run double to the fence in left-center field.
Before there was an out in the books, Valley Central led 2-0.
"I think being able to jump on them early, and kind of getting ahead and taking a little bit of the pressure off ourselves, it definitely helps us," said coach Frank Jordan, whose Vikings tacked on three more runs in the fifth and another four in the sixth.
That proved more than enough support for Pinckney, who struck out five.
"Jane was a lot sharper today than she even was in our finals back in our section," Jordan said. "She was really able to move the ball. Her change-up was working a lot better today than it had been in previous games. She was just mixing (her pitches), going up high, going in and out, and keeping their hitters off-balance. So, excellent job. Really set the tone for us."
Senior center fielder Sarah Koral had two of Union-Endicott's four hits. Leadoff hitter Kaitlyn Hewitt was 1-for-3, and left fielder Kate Baldwin was 1-for-1 with a walk.
The Tigers had a chance to cut into Valley Central's 2-0 lead in the bottom of the second, when Baldwin hit a two-out single to center, but Concklin -- the Vikings' center fielder -- threw a strike to the plate to catch Koral trying to score from second.
"It was two outs, we had to send her, and their girl made a terrific throw," Testa said. "That's what championship teams do, and this (Valley Central team) is obviously a championship team."
The Tigers will graduate four seniors from their squad: Koral, Baldwin, second baseman Colleen Cook and outfielder Cassie Diorio.
Among those back are freshman pitcher Rachel Mouillesseaux, who held Binghamton to one run on five hits in the Tigers' 3-1 sectional final, as well as catcher Sarica Pedley, shortstop and leadoff hitter Kaitlyn Hewitt, third baseman and No. 2 hitter Mandy Seccia, and No. 3 hitter Griffin McIver.
"I think they got a lot out of this," Testa said. "The younger players realize what it takes, and we've got girls that we really like there. ... We'll be back. This wasn't a one-shot deal, I don't believe, for us. We've got a group of girls that are going to compete for years to come."