SOUTH GLENS FALLS – During the championship celebration, it still had not fully hit Carly Nasca that Eden softball made history Saturday in winning the New York State Public High Schools Athletic Association Class B title, even as her teammates celebrated wildly with and around her at Moreau Recreation Park.
When it does hit Nasca, she’ll realize (if she hasn’t already) just how special this Eden team truly was – from its ability to shake off bad calls to its ability to deliver in the clutch.
The Raiders earned their coveted state championship by beating Section III champion Solvay, 1-0, in eight innings before an estimated 500 fans. Sophomore Jill Murray pitched the complete-game no-hitter, striking out 12 and scoring the winning run on classmate Hayley Kobie’s two-out, walk-off single to right center.
That gave Eden two walk-off wins in one day as the Raiders also rallied from a 3-2 deficit in the seventh to beat Section XI champion Center Moriches of Long Island, 4-3, in the semifinals.
“It’s amazing just knowing we’re the first team in Eden to win for softball,” said Murray, who also earned the win in relief in the semifinals, striking out four and yielding one hit in 2∑ innings. “All the teams here are great. We just stuck together the whole time.”
“This feels surreal,” said Nasca, who drove in the winning run in the semifinal with a squeeze bunt. “Even coming to states is amazing and even bringing home the title is even more surreal.”
In the final, the ninth inning almost seemed like a sure thing with two outs and no one aboard. Murray started the winning rally with a single to left. She then got into scoring position by stealing second base for Kobie, who hit .510 and drove in 26 runs heading into the final four. Even though Kobie was down in the count no balls, two strikes, that didn’t prevent her from taking aim at right field on pitcher Jackie Gardner’s next offering. Kobie served a shot over second base into right center, the perfect spot to plate Murray.
“I know when we have runners on base with Hayley up there is a big potential for one or both of them to score,” Eden coach Marisa Fallacaro said. “I wanted Hayley to place it in right field. We knew if we placed it there we could get Jill in.”
“It felt amazing,” Kobie said of the hit, her third of the game. “It was incredible to be able to do that for my team. I’ll never forget that. Just one of those moments.”
Kobie had another one of those moments in the semifinal as her single to left with one out in the seventh drove in Kelly Staub with the tying run. Kobie finished the doubleheader 4 for 8, including 3 for 4 in the final.
“I see it more as a team effort,” Kobie said of her key hits. “I couldn’t do what I do without my teammates. … They’re my sisters. We did it together.”
Eden (19-1), which closed the season on a seven-game winning streak, got tangled up in controversy in the opening game in the first when Staub collided with an umpire along the baseline after rounding third on Murray’s double. Staub ended up getting tagged out on the play and the umpires huddled and ruled no interference on the play. Whether she would have scored on the play or retreated to back to third is debatable. What was known at the time: the Raiders were upset with the call but heeded their coach’s advice and shook it off – acting like it never happened.
That ability to stay calm, even in the pressure-cooker of the state final four, proved to be key and it started with Murray. She went 2 for 3 in the opener, with a two-run homer that tied things at 2-2 in the third inning. She followed that by starting the championship rally, finishing the twin bill 3 for 7.
“It’s just our school’s mentality,” Kobie said of shaking things off that don’t go Eden’s way. “They just know they’ll get theirs,” Fallacaro said. “Jill doesn’t get rattled, and she keeps everybody at that level play.”