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SECTION IV SOFTBALL: SVEC RALLIES LATE, FALLS IN EXTRA INNINGS (2024-05-16)

By TIM TAYLOR
Tioga County Sports Report
SPENCER — The Spencer-Van Etten/Candor softball team staged a valiant comeback in the seventh inning of the Section IV Class B preliminaries before dropping an 8-7 thriller to Sidney in eight innings Thursday.

The Eagles went into the bottom of the seventh trailing 7-3, but put together a last-ditch rally to extend the game.

With one away, Jill Holmes and Katelyn Klym singled up the middle, and Faith Brenchley walked to fill the bases. Roni Presher followed with a single to score Holmes and Phoebe Swartz would reach on a fielder’s choice as the Sabers forced Klym out at the plate.

Down to its last out, SVEC got an RBI single from Nicola Soper and a two-run single by Aubrie Kastenhuber to tie the game.

“We were up and down throughout the game and we came together at the end, and we made it happen and we made them earn it,” SVEC co-head coach Mike Swartz said. “We didn't give them anything. We fought hard right to the very end and we’ve got to be proud of that.”

Sidney’s Bella West led off the eighth with a single, then Presher walked Ava Cirigliano, who had homered, doubled, singled and reached on an error in her four previous plate appearances.

Raegan Sudnikovich threw out Cirigliano stealing second, but West was able to beat the throw to the plate to give the Sabers an 8-7 edge.

Cirigliano, a 6-foot tall three-sports standout who came into the game with more than 500 career strikeouts, retired the side in the bottom of the eighth on a strikeout, fly out and ground out.

SVEC started out strong on defense as Sudnikovich picked off Bella West, who had been hit by a pitch, at first. Following base hits by Cirigliano and Andrianna Tanner, the Eagles caught Cirigliano in a rundown between third and home, then Presher struck out the next batter.

In the home half of the first, Sudnikovich belted a solo homer for the early lead. Holmes and Brenchley would add singles, but were left stranded.

West singled to lead off the third and Cirigliano followed with a dinger to push Sidney in front, 2-1, but the Eagles tied the game in their half of the inning on a Holmes single and Brenchley triple.

The Sabers took advantage of three SVEC errors in the fourth to grab a 4-2 advantage. With two down, Emily Russo reached on an outfield error and scored on Sam Constable’s single. Back-to-back infield errors by the Eagles helped Sidney make it 4-2 as Constable scored on an error off the bat of Cirigliano.

Sidney tacked on another run in the fifth when Chloie Taylor singled and scored on a Katelynn Youngs double.

SVEC matched that run in the bottom of the inning when Sudnikovich laid down a bunt and the second baseman was unable to field the throw at first. Sudnikovich raced around the bags to third, then scored on a Holmes single.

The Sabers stretched their lead to 7-3 in the sixth as West drew a base on balls, Cirigliano delivered an RBI double and Taylor added an RBI single.

“We had some information on them,” coach Swartz said. “They had a couple good hitters in the top of the lineup and they definitely put it in play. We made some great defensive plays. Jill Holmes making a great play, and her and Faith throughout the game.

“They had the timely hits and they got it done when they needed to, so again, just applaud our girls for fighting.”

Sidney looked like it would lock up the win in the sixth when Cirigliano fanned three out of four batters, surrendering only a double to Soper.

Youngs led off the seventh with a base hit, but Presher retired the side on a trio of infield outs, setting up the Eagles’ late heroics.

The bottom five batters in the SVEC lineup, who had managed just one hit through six innings, went 3-for-5 in the seventh-inning rally, scored two runs and accounted for four RBI.

“That's part of coming together as a team,” coach Swartz said. “They were all up there and they were all into it. You’ve got to be proud of them for that.”

The Eagles made some nice defensive plays with runners being thrown out at first and second, the rundown between third and home, a diving stop and throw out by Holmes at third, and a Brenchley-to-Klym double play.

SVEC rapped out a dozen hits with Holmes going 3-for-4 with a walk, two runs and an RBI. Brenchley was 2-for-3 with a walk, run and RBI; Soper was 2-for-4 with an RBI; and Klym went 2-for-5. Sudnikovich contributed a hit, two runs and an RBI; Pressure had a hit, run and RBI; Kastenhuber recorded a hit and two RBI; and Swartz scored a run.

Sidney had 13 hits on the day with Cirigliano going 3-for-4 with a walk, two runs and three RBI. West, Tanner, Taylor and Youngs added two hits each, and West scored three runs.

The Eagles were the fifth seed and Sidney came in at No. 12. The Sabers (11-6) are ranked 18th in the state while SVEC (11-5) is ranked 25th, although erroneously ranked in Class C by the New York State Sportswriters Association.

Coach Swartz thanked the seniors for their contributions to the program.

“Thank you, for putting the time in, putting the work in and being the leaders, and I wish them luck next year in everything they do and, they're, they're going to be OK.”

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IN PHOTO 1: The final hit of Raegan Sudnikovich’s high school career was a home run. ... PHOTOS BY TIM TAYLOR.

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