SHEFFIELD — There were tears shed by members of both teams after Friday night’s 16U County Championship bout. However, it didn’t seem that any tears were specifically evoked by the one-run deficit that determined ACS Swat’s 4-3 win.
“We ask for A.C.E.S,” Swat Coach Lou Moser said. “That’s Attitude, Coachability, Effort, and Sportsmanship. I try to instill that into the entire program… These girls are Aces, and that’s what you saw here today,”
Berkshire Liberty opened the title match striking early, leadoff hitter Julia Devoti blasted a double. Hudah Ngoy Nkulu started her stellar day by scoring Devoti in a bases-loaded situation, hitting a worm-burning line drive in the hole between shortstop and third.
ACS escaped the inning thanks to a much-needed strikeout.
The offensive momentum of the first inning set a pace that suggested the South County girls would be getting on base early and often. However, the next three innings matched the first’s scoring output.
Liberty’s Em Steuernagle began the bottom of the second with an infield base hit and then stole second base. Megan Loring scored Steuernagle with a rope to the right-center gap extending the lead to 2-0 in favor of Berkshire Liberty.
What propelled this Liberty team to such offensive success was a great performance on defense in the first two frames, specifically from Ngoy Nkulu at the hot corner, who flexed great arm strength and a vacuum for a glove.
“This Berkshire Liberty team is tremendous defensively,” Moser said. “This was a very efficient game on both sides. A one-run game, that’s what you want to see in the championship.”
Ngoy Nkulu followed her stellar defense by earning another RBI, in the bottom of the third that would ultimately be the last run scored by the navy blue and red.
ACS Swat responded to Liberty’s offensive output by scoring a run of their own. Danielle Glasier drove in the Swat’s first run with a single to right-center field in another bases-loaded situation, but the damage was limited by Liberty’s Steuernagle.
It wasn’t until the fifth inning that a team earned another run, and this time, ACS Swat not only scored but took the final lead change of the game after scoring three runs via a pair of base hits, a fielders choice and a wild pitch that pulled Swat ahead of Berkshire Liberty 4-3.
The following tinning and a half would move by in a matter of 20 minutes and Berkshire Liberty’s final three outs weren’t taken easily, as Steuernagle earned a base hit down the left-field line and stole second base, but a bang-bang play at first base would turn nerves into a celebration.
“If you execute and peak at the right time, wonderful things can happen,” Moser said. “This is a life lesson. If you just keep a work ethic in your life and try hard, good things will happen.”