BRADENTON - Her coaches told her not to swing, and Cardinal Mooney was more than happy to put her on base, but Saint Stephen's Molly Tuckerman knew she wasn't going to drive home the winning run by standing in the box with her bat on her shoulder.
So even though the Cougars were trying to intentionally walk her, Tuckerman saw a pitch to her liking, stuck the bat out and grounded a slow roller to second base.
Though it was a close play at the plate, Ashton Whidden took off from third base and slid in ahead of the tag to score the game's winning run in the bottom of the seventh inning Monday in the Falcons' 7-6 victory.
Whidden's run capped a three-run seventh-inning rally that vaulted Saint Stephen's from a 6-4 deficit to a win.
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"It was a bad hit but, hey, it got the run home, and we won the game," said Tuckerman. "If they are gonna play that way, then you have to work with them."
Tuckerman watched from on deck as Martine Miller struck out, despite the Cougars' attempt to put her on as well in hopes of setting up the force at any base.
The Falcons (9-4) opened the bottom of the seventh with a single from lead-off hitter Cassidy Whidden and a walk to Kelsey Falcone. Both those girls came around on singles by Ashton Whidden and Lindsey LaValliere, but as the Falcons reached the back end of their lineup, it became imperative to find a way to get Whidden home from third.
"We had the top four or five hitters up, so we knew we could come back," said Ashton Whidden, who also picked up the win in the pitching circle. "I had to score at all costs and had to get there, no excuses."
Cardinal Mooney coach Don Congdon said his team (7-8) hadn't practiced intentional walks. He said it was something they need to go over.
"This was probably the most important victory this year for morale on this team," said Falcons coach Fred Sosnoski, who pointed out his team has been on an upswing, winning six of seven after going 3-3 to start the year. "You can't put enough words into the importance of our senior leadership. They are the ones that lead this team, and they led us when we were down in the last inning."
Tuckerman, a junior first baseman, said the win was an example of how far the team has come.
"This was very big because last game we lost 7-2 to them, and we had the most errors," Tuckerman said. "This one we didn't have hardly any. It's heartwarming to know we can come back after being down."
Cardinal Mooney 002 002 2 - 6 8 3
Saint Stephen's 012 100 3 - 7 7 2
WP - Ashton Whidden. LP - Nicole Young. 2B - Lindsey LaValliere (SS), Ashton Whidden (SS), Nicole Young (CM), Bianca Corona (CM), Courtney Owens (CM). Team records: Cardinal Mooney 7-8, Saint Stephen's 9-4.