3rd inning burst takes South majors deeper into regionals

BRISTOL, Conn. — It may have taken a little longer than it wanted, but South Williamsport’s major softball team dusted the cobwebs off and announced its arrival in the Little League Softball Eastern Regional Tournament with a 4-2 victory over Robbinsville Little League (N.J.) on Sunday morning.

Facing a 2-0 deficit after the first inning, South Williamsport rallied with a two-out, three-run third inning buoyed by three straight RBI doubles from Sage Lorson, Kendall Cardone and Lynna Clark to take a 3-2 lead. Cardone then gave starting pitcher Alizabeth Schuler some breathing room with a two-out RBI single in the fifth to plate Gianna Goodman for a two-run cushion.

“There were some nerves in the first two innings,” said Schuler, who earned the victory with a complete-game effort. “Then we started scoring and I was like, ‘OK. We got this.’ We were very excited, and we were cheering and hopeful.”

South Williamsport head coach Cory Goodman added: “Sitting around all day [Saturday], the nerves kind of built up, I think. That happened to us a little bit in [the state tournament], but overall we played a fairly clean game which helped us.”

Cardone, Lorson and Schuler each collected two hits, and Schuler settled in after the rocky first inning to retire 15 of the final 18 batters she faced, leading South Williamsport to its 11th consecutive postseason victory.

“[Schuler] was dealing so I was comfortable with getting those runs on the board,” Goodman said. “I was kind of mad at myself for not playing a little more small ball there in the first inning. I thought I should’ve bunted the two-hitter to get her to third. It probably would’ve scored a run in the first inning, but our team’s really built around the power in the middle of the order.”

Goodman may have been kicking himself over that decision, but he was able to smile after watching his team show some fortitude — just like it did 12 days ago when it trailed Indiana by seven in the first game of the state tournament.

“Somebody lights a spark, and it just lights a fire under us,” Goodman said. “They just don’t fold. They don’t get down. They know they can score runs in bunches, and that’s what they did in that third inning. Every run matters in a tournament like this.”

Lily Reidy provided South Williamsport’s first spark, popping a shallow single to center field with two outs to start the third-inning rally.

Lorson and Cardone followed Reidy’s hit by rocketing RBI doubles over the head of Robbinsville left fielder Juleesa Alvarado on back-to-back pitches, and Clark roped an RBI double of her own moments later to give South Williamsport a 3-2 lead.

Robbinsville put the tying run on third base in the fourth inning, but Schuler dropped an offspeed pitch on the corner for a looking strikeout to strand the runner. In the sixth, Robbinsville put the tying run on first with an infield single, but Schuler induced a groundout to send South Williamsport to its 11th consecutive postseason victory and set it up with a 4 p.m. game Monday against Peabody Tanners Little League (Mass.).

“I didn’t get a chance to see [Peabody], but I know some of the other parents and some of the coaches did,” Goodman said. “It doesn’t really matter because every day, a different team may show up. We just have to show up. It’s not really what they’re doing. It’s about us and what we need to do. [We need to] do the little things every day, every game.”

South Williamsport 4,

New Jersey 2

SW 003 010 — 4 9 0

NJ 200 000 — 2 6 0

Alizabeth Schuler and Lily Reidy.

Sorella Gallucci and Abby Velsz. W — Schuler. L — Gallucci.

Top South Williamsport hitters: Alizabeth Schuler 2-3; Sage Lorson 2-3 2B, RBI, run; Kendall Cardone 2-3 2B, 2 RBIs, run; Lynna Clark 1-3 2B, RBI.

Top NJ hitters: Sorella Gallucci 1-3 RBI, run; Katie Zillani 3-3 2B, RBI.

COMMENTS