Clutch hitting propels Indians into quarterfinals
CAMBRIDGE, N.Y. >> Clutch hitting and solid pitching was the formula for the No. 6 seed Cambridge softball team in their 12-4 win against No. 11 seed Saratoga Catholic on Wednesday, advancing them to the quarterfinals of the Section II, Class C tournament.
Coming into their first round matchup losers of four straight, the Indians found themselves in a uphill battle early on against Spa Catholic, after the Saints took any early lead on a two-run home run in the first inning.
However, like they have had all season long, the Indians came right back in the bottom half of the inning with their explosive offense.
With the bases loaded and two outs, junior Mattie Clifton jump-started the Indians offense, smacking a two-run single to right field to tie the game up at 2-2.
Following up Clifton's huge two out hit was fellow junior Olivia Brownell, who had a two-run single of her own, giving Cambridge its first lead of the day.
"I was just trying to put the ball in play and see what happens," Brownell said. "I didn't harp on it being [with] two out, just trying to get a pitch to hit and get the runners on base home."
Still leading by two runs in the second, Cambridge added to their lead, again doing so with runners in scoring position and two outs.
First it was Miranda Seacord who singled home Rhiannon Darling to make it 5-2, and then after Seacord stole second, Victoria Dupuis lined a base hit up the middle to score her to extend the Cambridge lead to four.
After Kayla Giglio walked, Clifton again with two outs hit a bloop shot down the right field line that scored a pair of runs before she was thrown out at third to end the inning, giving a Cambridge a 8-2 lead.
"I was really happy that I was able to come through for the team in those big situations," Clifton said. "Even though I was nervous up there in those at bats, I was still confident in myself that I could get the job done and get those runs in, and I was really happy that I did."
Clifton finished with a team-high four RBIs and reached base three times.
With a six-run lead in hand, Seacord settled down on the mound for the Indians.
The young righthander did a great job mixing in her off-speed pitches with her great fastball to keep the Spa Catholic hitters off-balance, striking out five in a complete game performance. At one point, she retired 10 Saints in a row.
"I just relaxed more after getting the lead and I was able to get more comfortable on the mound," Seacord said. "I know that I could rebound from that first inning and I think with that confidence and my teammates helping me out in the field, it allowed me to get back to doing my thing on the mound."
Seacord was no slouch at the plate either, going 3-4 with an RBI and three runs scored.
Leading 8-3 in the fourth, the Indians' offense continued to pile up runs and again did so with two outs, with Giglio starting off with a 2-run single to extend the lead.
After Clifton walked, Brownell knocked in her third run of the game on an RBI double, making the first 11 runs of the game for Cambridge to all come with two outs.
The only run Cambridge scored without it being two outs was Dupuis' RBI single in the sixth.
"Our girls go up to bat with confidence and know that they can hit with two outs," said Cambridge coach Gerald Clifton. "All of them have worked really hard in the cage over this past year to become a better hitter and it's been paying off for them all season long."
In the seventh, Seacord closed it out and the Indians were on their way to the quarterfinals, where they will take on the No. 3 seed Maple Hill.
"I'm really proud of the girls in how they came back from being down 2-0 early and the way they all played to get the win," Clifton said. "We have conquered another goal we had this year and now we're on to the next goal, which is to see how far we can go in the playoffs."
With the win, Cambridge improves to 12-5 on the season and travel to Maple Hill in the quarterfinals on Friday at 4:30 p.m.
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