Coming into Tuesday’s South, Group 2 sectional semifinals there was no doubt in the minds of the Pirates softball team that they could hang with #1 West Deptford.
#4 Cinnaminson proved it could play with the best of South Jersey by forcing the Eagles to win the game on a walkoff hit in the bottom of the seventh inning to fall 9-8.
The Pirates (12-13) went down 2-0 in the first inning, but got one back in the top of the second on an infield RBI single from second baseman Tori Robinson.
Cinnaminson tied the game at 2-2 in the top of the third on an error.
West Deptford responded with four runs in the bottom of the third on a two-run home run, an illegal pitch and an RBI single.
If it were any other team taking on West Deptford, this might have been the end of the game. But this group of resilient Pirates would not go down without a fight.
Chelsea Price relieved starter Rebecca Martino in the third and calmed things down. She allowed a run in the bottom of the fourth to make it a 7-2 game before the Pirates bats exploded.
“When you go down 7-2, you could quit,” head coach Tracy Bart said. “Your kids could just quit on you, but they didn’t. We said one at-bat at a time, one inning at a time.”
Cinnaminson, having hit one homerun all season, blasted three long balls in the top of the fifth for four runs.
Senior centerfielder Brooke Figiel got it started with a two-run shot. Senior catcher Olivia Pestridge followed with a solo shot to cut the Eagles lead to 7-5.
“They have been great role models in their play on and off the field in how they carry themselves,” Bart said of her seniors. “It’s something that the younger kids can look up to.”
“We talk a lot about character. To me, that’s more important than the wins and losses of the game sometimes. It’s who you are and what people remember you by.”
After a groundout for the first out of the inning, designated player Jess Ferris added a solo shot of her own to make it a 7-6 game in favor of West Deptford.
“We had that big inning with the three homeruns that pulled us right back into the game,” Bart said. “You can’t ask for anything else. These kids gave me everything they had all season long.”
“I told them that there’s plenty of game left. We’ve scored multiple runs in an inning before and we can do it again.”
The four-run explosion brought the Pirates right back into the game headed into the bottom of the fifth down 7-6.
Price held the Eagles scoreless to bring the Pirates back to the plate top six.
Cinnaminson started the inning on a perfectly placed bunt single by right fielder Brenna MacNair, who subsequently stole second.
Shortstop Gia Trzaska stepped to the plate and laid down another perfect bunt that was thrown past the first baseman and into right field, scoring MacNair from second to tie the game at 7-7.
Trzaska advanced to third on the error and then scored when the throw from right field sailed past the third baseman and into foul territory, giving the Pirates an 8-7 lead.
It was the first lead of the day for the Pirates and the most runs scored against West Deptford (20-2) in a game all season. The previous high was six in a 6-3 loss in April to Rancocas Valley.
Price held the Eagles in check in the bottom of the sixth despite allowing a leadoff double. After the double, Price induced two infield pop outs and then snared a line drive back to the circle to end the Eagles threat.
Cinnaminson did not score in the top of the seventh, sending the game to the bottom half holding on to an 8-7 lead.
West Deptford started the bottom of the seventh with a hit batter, who was sacrificed to second and then scored on an RBI single to left-center. The throw home was not cut off and the runner advanced to second.
Price induced a groundout to second for the second out of the inning that advanced the runner to third. An infield bunt single scored the winning run from third as the Eagles walked off into the South, Group 2 sectional final.
“I told the girls to remember this moment, to remember this feeling. Next year we want to be here, but we want to be on the other side of it next year,” Bart said.
“We want to take that next step next year. I told them all the hard work they put in during the winter and summer, it pays off. The more they play, the better they’re going to be.”
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