M. Johnson, Marsman define heroes role in Potsdam softball's conference sweep of New Paltz
Senior Megan Johnson (Heuvelton, N.Y. / Heuvelton) had just tossed a complete game and allowed just one run on 78 pitches. At the plate, her winning RBI double that brought home pinch runner Rachel Grefke (Livonia, Mich. / Clarenceville) in the bottom of the fifth inning was the difference maker in lifting the Bears to a 2-1 victory in game one of a doubleheader against SUNYAC opponent New Paltz.
So when SUNY Potsdam softball coach Shannon Dillabough turned to Johnson and asked if she wanted to start game two, the captain only had a definitive one-word response to the question."Yes."
For an encore performance, Johnson returned to the pitching circle after just a 45-minute break in between and tossed another complete game in leading the Bears to 5-4 victory in game two.
"I was just trying to throw strikes and let the defense behind me do most of the work," said Johnson, who picked up two wins and lowered her earned run average by nearly a full run through her heavy workload.
"He [coach Dillabough] asked me if I was ready to go for a second game and I felt fine. The defense saved a lot of runs for me. I have faith in my field. My curveball was moving slowly and it kept their hitters off. I was able to work the corners well. I kept trying to move the ball around. It feels amazing to get a conference swept. And, hey, we had to keep it interesting."
The Bears trailed in each game, but was able to rally each time.
In game one, it was sophomore Katie Marsman (Wantagh, N.Y. / Wyoming Seminary) who blasted an offering over the left-center field fence by a good 15 feet for her second home run of the season to tie at it 1-1 in the fourth inning.
"I knew it was my pitch," Marsman said. "I could feel that it was hit hard. It's the best feeling ever. My other home run that I hit [earlier in the season at Buffalo State] against Buff State went off the foul pole and I was at second base before the umpire called it a home run."
In the fifth inning, junior Rachel Spiker (Grand Island, N.Y. / Grand Island) led off with a double. Grefke pinch ran for Spiker and came around to score on Johnson's double to give the Bears all they would need.
In game two, the Bears fell behind 4-2 and immediately answered with two runs in the bottom half of the fifth to tie at 4-4 on RBI singles by Marsman and senior Brittany Thivierge (Schuylerville, N.Y. / Schuylerville).
Heading into their final at bats, Potsdam (4-16 overall, 3-5 SUNYAC) promptly won the game when Marsman cracked a one-out double and then scored on Thivierge's drive to deep left field that bounced off the glove of left fielder Juliette Verso.
By the time that Verso had scooped and fired in to the infield, Marsman was on her way to home plate. As the throw came in late, Marsman slide in for the winning run as the Bears' bench cleared to join in the celebration for the walk-off win.
"Today was definitely awesome," Marsman said. "It was a team effort and two intense games. You can see our confidence growing and you can see our younger players feeling better at the plate. Now, we know that we can actually do it. We wanted to come out, brush it off [Friday's games against Oneonta State] and be focused and ready to play again."
Marsman finished 2-for-4 with a double, two RBI and a run scored in game two. Freshman Jordan Ott (Hilton, N.Y. / Hilton) nearly hit for the cycle by batting 3-for-4 out of the leadoff spot with a triple, double, a single and two runs scored.
New Paltz junior Noelle Grande knocked in three runs on a hot liner that got past the second baseman and eventually rolled past the right fielder's glove as well to score Shayna Burgess and Katie Rutcofsky for the Hawks (9-16 overall, 6-7 SUNYAC).
In game one, Kelly Becker (Mahopac, N.Y. / Mahopac) and Spiker each batted 2-for-3 for the Bears.
Johnson (3-7) totaled 14 innings of work and got a combined 22 fly ball outs, 13 ground ball outs and struck out five. She allowed just five runs—four earned and walked just two.
Potsdam will be back in action Sunday for a doubleheader at SUNYAC opponent Oswego at 1 p.m.