By Rob Potter
LIVINGSTON MANOR Monday afternoon’s Orange County Interscholastic Athletic Association (OCIAA) Division VI softball game between the visiting S.S. Seward Lady Spartans and Livingston Manor Lady Wildcats was an old-fashioned pitchers dual.
Seward’s Michelle Dugan and Manor’s Marissa Diescher frustrated the opposing batters during the entire game.
However, much to the delight of Diescher and her teammates, they were able to score a run against Dugan in the bottom of the second inning.
Manor made that run stand up over the next five innings to record a 1-0 victory.
Victoria Taggart led off the bottom of the second for the Lady Wildcats and drew a walk from Dugan. When Taggart reached first base, timeout was called and Kaylee Velez entered the game as a pinch runner for Taggart. Marina Zayas then hit a ground ball towards Lady Spartan shortstop Shannon O’Sullivan.
O’Sullivan put her glove down, but the ball rolled between her legs and into the outfield. Velez and Zayas advanced to third base and second base, respectively, on the error.
After an out was recorded, Maggi Calo stepped into the batter’s box. She hit the ball to O’Sullivan, who quickly fired it to first baseman Caitlin Lemire. Although O’Sullivan’s throw was accurate, Calo was able to touch first base a split second before O’Sullivan caught the ball. Velez was able to cross home plate on the infield hit to give Manor (11-3, 5-0 Div. VI) a one-run advantage.
That run was all Diescher needed. The sophomore hurler struck out 18 batters and allowed just one hit.
Diescher, who entered the game with a 0.18 earned run average and 200 strikeouts on the season, even flirted with a perfect game for four-plus innings. She struck out the side in the second and fourth innings.
However, her bid for perfection or at least a no-hitter ended in the top of the fifth. With one out, O’Sullivan hit a clean single to center field.
But Diescher fanned the next two batters to quell any hopes Seward (9-8, 5-2 Div. VI) might have had of evening the score.
Dugan was nearly as dominant as she limited the Lady Wildcats to just two hits and that one run.
The Lady Wildcats tried to add to their lead in the bottom of the fifth. Angela Zayas began the inning by ripping a single to left field. After the Lady Spartans recorded an out, Diescher walked to put runners on first base and second base.
But Dugan induced the next batter to ground out and then stuck out the next Lady Wildcat who stepped into the batter’s box to keep it a 1-0 contest.
“It was a very good game,” Seward Coach Don Lewis said.
“She’s tough,” he added, referring to Diescher.
But Lewis was very pleased with how Dugan pitched.
“She did a great job for us today,” he said. “She struck out six batters.”
After seeing the Lady Wildcats defeat his team in both of their regular season games, Lewis is eager for another chance to face them.
“Hopefully, we well see them again in the sectionals,” he said.
Manor Co-Coach Kevin Clifford noted that this is the second time this season Diescher has registered 18 strikeouts in a game. Her season high is 20 Ks in one contest.
“The most important thing about this game is that we stayed undefeated in our division,” Clifford said.
There is room for improvement, however.
“We can’t keep leaving so many runners on base,” Clifford said. “We need to get hits when those runners are in scoring position.”
The win against Seward was the Lady Wildcats’ second consecutive triumph over a tough opponent. The previous Friday, May 15, Manor shut out homestanding Chester, 4-0, behind Diescher, who struck out 18 batters, and Calo, who went 2-for-3 at the plate.
Chester had entered the game with a perfect 12-0 record and ranked No. 1 among Class C teams in the New York State Sportswriters’ Association softball poll.
“I felt like we could play with them,” Clifford said of the Lady Hambletonians. “Two days before that game, we lost a close game to Chapel Field. Based on that, I was confident we could hold our own against Chester.”