Let it be known that Swanton softball coach Joe Nye has the guts to someday make it to the final table of the World Series of Poker.
That’s because during a seventh inning rally by Woodmore in the first round of the Division III sectional Tuesday, Nye went all-in by walking the bases loaded to bring the tying run to the plate, and center fielder Kylie Ulch dealt him an ace on the river with a full extension running catch to preserve a 6-2 Swanton win, to put them in Friday’s sectional final at Otsego.
“If you look at the stats for them, the number four hitter (Brooke Allen) has four home runs for them and the player behind her (Sydni Buhrow) hadn’t done anything to that point,” explained Nye. “So it was all on me.”
“She’s a game time player,” he added of Ulch’s catch.
The Bulldogs jumped out early, taking a 3-0 first inning lead.
Olivia Bergman and Olivia Williams looped one-out singles around Ulch’s screaming liner to left to load the bases.
Then Jessica Dohm chased them all home with a double that painted the left field line to give the Bulldogs a jump on the Wildcats.
Base hits by Allen, Kayla Bosh and Alex Moreno loaded the bases in the top of the second, but Bergman allowed only a run on a force play to keep the Bulldogs on top 3-1.
“We felt Olivia’s best game pitching was today,” Nye said. “She was in the strike zone, mixed her pitches well. Her best game was today.”
Swanton tallied again in the third when Bergman led off with a double and Dohm again provided a run-scoring hit to left to make it 4-1.
The Dogs added on the next inning, again with Bergman starting the engine.
The Swanton pitcher ripped a double into left center and Williams rifled a double down the left field line one out later to make it 5-1.
“Olivia Williams, senior, what a great leader,” Nye exclaimed. “She gets that double to get that run in and makes great plays at third today. This was the best game (assistant coach) Mike (Eitniear) and I have seen in four years.”
Dohm’s third hit of the game moved Williams to third and Alexis Bergman marked her with a sacrifice fly to right.
That score held until the seventh.
Maddie Strickland’s one-out single started Woodmore’s surge.
Katelyn Marshall followed with a double but the Bulldogs got a break when Kennedy Bringman’s bouncer nicked Marshall creating an interference call.
Marshall was declared out and Bringman was at first, with the runner that was on third being sent back to third base.
Macie Wellons then followed with a run-scoring double, putting runners on second and third, setting up Nye’s bold move.
After putting Allen on, Buhrow blasted a drive to straight away center that Ulch speared with a fully extended reach on the run to save the game.
“I can’t be more happy for the kids,” said Nye. “This is the best win we’ve had in quite a while.”
“We’re going to be ready Friday (for Otsego), our kids are playing right now. We’ve always told our kids ‘make people notice’. Make them know who you are. Now maybe around school people will say, ‘you guys are playing for a sectional title’ and we can say ‘yeah we are’. I’m just so proud of these kids.”
The Bulldogs meet the third-seeded Knights at Otsego with game time at 5 p.m.
Reach Joe Blystone at firstname.lastname@example.org