MARCY, N.Y. – The SUNYIT Softball Team (19-10, 13-3 NEAC) couldn't have asked for a better day for Senior Day. The Wildcats topped visiting Cazenovia (8-20, 7-7 NEAC) 12 to 6 in the first game, and 8-0 in a five-inning second game amidst balmy 65-degree weather.
In between games SUNYIT honored seniors Kim Tarasek (Lowville, N.Y. / Lowville), Kwanisha Jones (Philadelphia, N.Y. / Indian River), Bianca Brown (Utica, N.Y. / Utica-Proctor), Juleah Vedder (Dolgeville, N.Y. / Dolgeville), and Amanda Pratt (Rochester, N.Y. / Rush-Henrietta).
In their illustrious careers the five seniors presided over unprecedented success as part of the Jess Skelton-led Wildcats, peppering the SUNYIT record books with individual accomplishments while also setting records for most wins in a season (29) and most consecutive wins (15). Most notably, third baseman Juleah Vedder will graduate as the SUNYIT all-time leader in home runs, RBI's, and slugging percentage, while fellow captain Amanda Pratt will leave as the all-time leader in hits and a two-time 1st Team All-NEAC Selection.
The first leg of the doubleheader was completed as part of a rain-shortened game earlier in the season, and so play resumed in the top of the third inning with the Wildcats in the field leading 8-4 and Cazenovia with no outs and runners on first and second. As if to send the message that this would be no easy coronation for SUNYIT on Senior Day, Cazenovia pounced on the rally they'd begun almost a week earlier on a pair of RBI's from Kim Norton and Lauren Poremba. Cazenovia ended the inning down just two, 8-6.
SUNYIT would add a run in the fifth on a Lyndsey Brognano (Rome, N.Y. / RFA) double, and three more in the bottom of the sixth on a 2 RBI base-hit from Bianca Brown, but the real story was SUNYIT's defense. After a tumultuous first three frames, the Wildcats didn't allow a run for the final four innings in cruising to a 12-6 victory.
In the second game, Brognano got things going right away for the Wildcats, leading off the game with a double off the fence in left field. The junior from Rome would later score on a first-and-third situation as Krista Pristera (New Hartford, N.Y. / New Hartford) drew the defense into a rundown. SUNYIT led 1-0 after the first.
Adhering to the principle "score early, score often," the Wildcats tacked on another 3 runs in the bottom of the second on good old-fashioned timely hitting. SUNYIT banged out four hits in the inning and ran the bases well to take a 4-0 lead.
Despite SUNYIT's relative stranglehold on the second game, some excitement was manufactured in the top of the 5th inning as Cazenovia – down 8-0 – tried to rally to avoid the 8-run rule being invoked. Wildcat pitcher Jae Dee Lavada (Mayfield, N.Y. / Fulton Montgomery CC) allowed the first two batters to reach safely before mowing down the next two on groundballs. With two outs and Cazenovia third basemen Calyn Fisher on third, a wild pitch from Lavada seemed like it would prolong the game. As Fisher came barreling towards home, however, SUNYIT catcher Krista Pristera found the ball by the backstop, turned, and flipped it to Lavada covering home. Lavada applied the tag for the dramatic final out of the game, as SUNYIT improved to 13-3 in conference.
With the five-inning shutout, Lavada improved to 5-1 on the season while squeezing her team-leading ERA down to a miniscule 1.07.
In a grueling three day stretch of games for the Wildcats, SUNYIT will next travel to Morrisville St. tomorrow for a doubleheader. First pitch is scheduled for 2:00 pm.