ELMHURST – Riverside Brookfield’s softball doubleheader against host York on April 15 was one half dramatic finish, one half fight to the finish.
The Bulldogs (10-4) built a 4-1 lead in Game 1, then withstood a two-run seventh-inning rally by York to win 4-3 as winning pitcher Nora Dachota (seven strikeouts) coaxed a game-ending pop-up with the bases loaded.
RB then nearly rallied from a 4-0 first-inning deficit in Game 2, falling 6-4 despite strong offensive games from Amanda Martinez (2 for 4, RBI and run scored), Kailyn Ngo (triple, run scored), freshman Nadia Ranieri (2 for 4, run scored) and Marissa McDermott (RBI single, run scored).
Martinez was 4-for-8 in the twin bill, continuing her exceptional season as RB’s No. 3 hitter.
“You have to be calm at the plate and realize it’s one pitch at a time,” Martinez said. “You just have to find the pitch to hit and be relaxed.”
The finish to Game 1 was hardly relaxing, but it was a test the Bulldogs passed.
“Obviously your heart’s pounding and you’re worried,” Martinez said, “but we had complete trust in each other that we could get the out.”
Dachota’s presence on the mound helped that trust.
“She’s a very heady pitcher,” RB coach Doug Schultz said. “She really knows how to control the ball and spin the ball, and she knows how to go slow at times and fast at others.”
Offensively, Martinez has been part of a deep RB lineup that has helped the team score five or more runs in seven games this season.
“Lately both Ranieri girls have stood out,” Schultz said. “Alivia both at shortstop and at the plate has been doing really well, and Nadia threw a five-inning no-hitter with 13 strikeouts against Fenton [in a 12-1 win April 14], and she was 2 for 2 with a triple. She had a game that she dominated.
“And it’s been a balanced team. We’ve been getting good hitting from the bottom of our lineup – that’s also been winning games for us.”
Tied 1-1 in Game 1 at York, RB jumped ahead 3-1 in the sixth inning on singles by Martinez and Alivia Ranieri and a two-run double by Amy Kulaga. Ngo’s two-out RBI single in the top of the seventh brought in Lauren Lambros with what turned out to be the decisive run.
In Game 2, Tori Blood pitched 3 2/3 innings of shutout relief to keep RB close.
Despite the loss in that game, the Bulldogs’ confidence is unblemished.
“Our positivity is up from last year, our energy is up, and there’s no team we play that we think we can’t beat,” Martinez said. “We’re good.”