Sullivan's off-speed pitches fool Shen in softball final

Inwardly, Meagan Sullivan was a bundle of nerves.

Outwardly, the freshman was the cool customer that shut down a hot-hitting Shenendehowa softball team and delivered Bethlehem its first Section II title since 1978.

Sullivan limited Shen to five hits, and Cassie Smith added three hits to lead third-seeded Bethlehem to a 2-1 victory over No. 1 Shen in last Friday's Class AA Sectional final at Clifton Common.

I don't like showing nerves I never do," said Sullivan. "But inside, I was definitely a mess."

"We are so proud of what Sully has done for us," said Bethlehem coach Karen Gentile. "She's stepped right in and taken the leadership role inside that [pitcher's] circle, and the other kids have been very supportive of her in the field."

Shen (19-4) entered the championship game off a 12-hit performance in a 9-2 semifinal victory over Shaker two days earlier, but Sullivan kept the Plainswomen off balance with her collection of off-speed pitches. Shen hit the ball out of the infield only once through the first four innings.

"That's always some-thing that I've worked on," said Sullivan. "I've tried to keep up with it because there are some good hitting teams out there. Shen is a very good hitting team."

"It just seemed like the low balls that we didn't swing at were called strikes, and then when she didn't throw low, we got nervous at the plate," said Shen coach Dan D'Amboise. "We had a lot of half swings today."

Meanwhile, Bethlehem's hitters were in fine shape early on against Shen starter Cameron Sprague. Smith delivered a long double in the bottom of the second inning to drive in Mikayla Shade for the game's first run. Then in the fourth inning, Morgan Mazone hit a seeing-eye single between shortstop and third base to bring in Shade to give the Lady Eagles (19-5) a 2-0 lead.

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