Ostellino Walkoff Lifts Taconic Past Wahconah

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PITTSFIELD, Mass. -- Offense was hard to come by for either team in a clash of Berkshire County softball powers on Sunday afternoon … until the bottom of the eighth, that is.
Kirstyn Carrigan led off with a double, and Jenyka Ostellino drove her home to give Taconic a 3-2, come-from-behind, walkoff win over Wahconah.
The back-to-back blasts allowed Taconic to avenge an 10-inning loss to Wahconah in the teams’ first meeting back on May 10.
Ostellino said Taconic never lost its confidence after going down 2-0 in the second inning.
“I know we needed those,” she said. “We were up all the time, picking each other up. We needed this win.
“The only thing I was thinking about [going to the plate in the eighth] was that I need to do this for my team. We all pick each other up. I wasn’t doing too well in the beginning, but, now, I’m just glad that we won.”
In extra innings of a tie game with a runner on second and nobody out, some coaches may have had the bunt sign on. But Jaclyn Candelet was confident in her junior catcher.
Coach and catcher had a chance to confer during a break in the action after Carrigan’s double. Wahconah center fielder Kaitlyn Olds was briefly shaken up after attempting to make a diving play on Carrigan’s hit; Olds walked off the field under her own power.
“After what happened in the outfield, there was a little break, and I told her, ‘You know what, take your strike. If you hit it, you hit it. If not, the next one we’re bunting on the first base line,’ “ Candelet said.
“Jenyka saw the pitch she wanted, she drove it to center field, and she did what she’s been doing all year.”
Taconic (8-6) struggled defensively early. It committed two errors in the top of the first, but Mary Lee pitched out of trouble with a pair of strikeouts to leave two runners on base.
In the second, Wahconah made Taconic pay for its third error.
Hailey Lenski led off with a walk and went to third when Julia Trager reached on an error trying to sacrifice her over.
Olds’ groundball out scored Lenski, and Bailey Shippee bunted Trager home to make it 2-0.
Candelet said it was not the first time that Taconic has had to overcome a rough start.
“That’s been our focus all year: not letting the beginning of the game haunt us at the end,” she said. “We’ve had games where we’ve gone down a couple of runs early on, and we let it it completely take us out of the game.
“In the last week or so, we’ve focused on: Who cares what happens in the first two innings. It’s a seven-inning ballgame. Pick each other up. Keep moving forward.”
Taconic got a big lift on defense in the top of the third when shortstop Taea Bramer’s relay from center fielder Taylar Ostrander allowed third baseman Anna Bongini to tag out a runner trying to stretch a double into a triple.
Two innings later, Taconic’s offense broke through.
Bramer legged out an infield single to start the inning. Carrigan bunted her to second, Ostellino dropped a single into right to put runners at the corners, and Ellianna Christopher drove Bramer home to make it 2-1.
In the fifth, Ostrander hit a two-out double and came in on Bramer’s single to right to tie the game.
While Lee -- who did not pitch on Saturday for Taconic -- shut down Wahconah after the second, Taconic’s offense found a way to get to Abby Wells in the late innings on a muggy afternoon one day after a dramatic walkoff Wahconah win.
“I wasn’t so concerned about [fatigue] being a factor so much as I was checking in with [Wells] from about the fourth or fifth inning on just to make sure she could keep going,” Wahconah coach Dustin Belcher said. “Of course, she’s a competitor, and she’s never going to take herself out of a game.
“But I definitely saw saw toward the last inning or two she was starting to tire a little bit. That being said, those are the moments when the players behind her have to step up. We’ve got to make the big play.”
Taconic got a big play from Bongini in the top of the seventh after Wahconah put runners on first and second with nobody out. The next batter attempted a sacrifice bunt, but Bongini made a diving catch to spoil the play. Two batters later, Lee was out of the inning.
That diving stab -- and the tag on the relay play in the third -- showed a major turnaround for Bongini, who had some early problems in the field.
“It’s tough to put a freshman in that spot,” Candelet said. “She’d done a great job all year. She’s one of those kids that I moved around wherever I needed her. She’s found a spot at third, and she’s made some big plays.”
Lee pitched a clean inning in the top of the eighth as Taconic made all the plays it needed to in order to set the stage for the heroics of Carrigan and Ostellino.
“We’ve been wanting to beat Wahconah,” Ostellino said. “It’s our home field. We’re done having people beat us on our home field.”
Taconic goes on the road Tuesday to face Drury.
Wahconah (12-3) hosts Hoosac Valley on Wednesday.
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