New City-Sufferin beat the rain and then South Shore to win the New York state 11-12-year-old Little League softball title on Sunday, at Joe Karnes Field, at Wright Park, in Dunkirk.
"With this offense and this defense and those two stud pitchers, it's made it hard for anyone to beat us so far," New City-Sufferin head coach Eddie Fudge said.
The two pitchers Fudge was referring to were Kaitlyn Fudge and Samantha Kaner, who had combined to throw two no-hitters in their teams previous three games.
OBSERVER?Photo by Gib Snyder III
Members of New?City-Sufferin celebrate after they defeated South Shore, 5-2, for the New York state 11-12-year-old Little League softball title at Joe Karnes Field, at Wright Park, in Dunkirk, on Sunday.
OBSERVER?Photo by?Gib Snyder III
New City-Sufferin’s Halle Medici is tagged out by South Shore third baseman Maya Reyes, as she attempts to get back to third base during the New York state 11-12-year-old Little League softball title game, on Sunday, at Joe Karnes Field, at Wright Park, in Dunkirk.
"They are the two best pitchers that I know," Fudge said. "We're very excited and they worked very hard. For two years, since they won the regionals, they wanted to stick together and they wanted to make it to the state championship this year."
On Sunday, Fudge earned the start in the circle and allowed two runs on four hits while striking out four and walking one over the game's first four innings. Kaner tossed the final two innings and allowed a single to South Shore's Maya Reyes in the bottom of fifth and a walk to Julie Cedeno in the sixth.
"Kaitlyn came back, she found her groove," Fudge said. "And Samantha Kaner came in and shut the door."
New City-Sufferin built a 3-0 lead before a thunderstorm delayed the game for nearly three-and-a-half hours. Jenna O'Reilly scored on a passed ball for a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the first while Fudge scored on Kim Kaufman's RBI single for a 2-0 lead. Then, in the top of the second, Lily Medici waled with one out and later scored on O'Reilly's two-out RBI single.
In the bottom of the second, the skies opened up and the game was delayed. But the volunteer grounds crew worked tirelessly to get the field ready. And at 5:30 p.m., the game resumed.
"We've played travel for the last two years all over New Jersey," Fudge noted. "And we've been to the Eastern Regional and to Syracuse for states and this is the best field crew I have seen, bar none. It's an unbelievable job the guys (working) on the field did."
"We were going to go to (today)," District 38 Administrator Marv Cummings added when asked what the plan was if they were unable to get the game in on Sunday. "We had until I think Tuesday to get this tournament done, so we had a little bit of a leeway, but I didn't have a doubt in my mind, that when I knew the field was soaked, that the crew in Dunkirk, they would work unbelievably to get the field ready. And the teams that came from all over New York state were so pleased with the work that Dunkirk Little League put in to make this all happen."
When the game resumed, South Shore cut the New City-Sufferin lead to 3-2 on a two-run fielder's choice off the bat of Isabella Fiumefreddo.
But that was as close as South Shore got to the New City-Sufferin lead, as they added single runs in the third and sixth innings.
Kaitlyn Keane tripled to start the third and scored on an error while Kaufman led off the sixth with a three-bagger of her own and later scored on an RBI ground out off the bat of Lily Medici.
"Actually, some of the girls were a little nervous, which is surprising," Fudge said when asked what his team's mindset was after the long delay. "Because this is the same group, that as 10-year-olds, won the whole Eastern Regional."
But his girls' nerves settled down and Fudge and Kaner shut the door, as New City-Sufferin advanced to the Eastern Regional in Bristol, Conn., which begins on Friday, July 18.
Kaner pitched two scoreless innings and allowed a hit and a walk while Kaufman finished 2 for 3, including a triple and two RBIs.
Danielle MaGuire suffered the loss in the circle for South Shore after she allowed five runs - three earned - on five hits while striking out six and walking two. Reyes finished 3 for 3 while Cedeno and Gianna Giambrone singled in the second.
After the immediate joy of winning had subsided, Fudge had nothing but high praise for the tournament's host.
"We give a lot of respect to Dunkirk Little League," Fudge said. "And to tell you the truth, I didn't know where Dunkirk was before this, but I have to say this is the best Little League in all of New York."
Should New City-Sufferin advance past the Eastern Regional, a trip to the Little League Softball World Series in Portland, Ore., will await. The World Series is set to begin on Aug. 8.