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Emily Johnson's blast helps Shaker beat Shen

With one swing of her bat, Emily Johnson helped the Shaker softball team end years of frustration.

Johnson belted a two-run homer in the bottom of the sixth inning to lead the Lady Bison to a 3-2 victory over Shenendehowa in last Friday's Suburban Council North Division game.

It was Shaker's first victory over Shen in several years, and it moved the Lady Bison (9-3 league, 12-3 overall) within a game of the first-place Plains-women (9-2, 11-4).

It's a big day for our program and basically what Shaker softball is all about, said Shaker coach Leigh Stevens. "Shen is a perennial Suburban Council power."

Emily Burkhard led off the bottom of the sixth inning with a double. Shen pitcher Cameron Sprague got the next two Shaker batters out before Johnson planted the ball over the right-center field fence.

"I don't keep track of the pitches [and where they are]," said Johnson. "It just came at me chest high, which is where I like it."

"Emiliy Johnson was the one today to come through for us, but on any given day anybody can step up for us," said Stevens.

Shen took a 1-0 lead in the top of the first inning. Melissa Morgan hit a one-out double, reached third on a passed ball and scored on Marlin Solano's groundout.

Shaker tied the game at 1 in the bottom of the second inning. Helen Charland singled, moved to second on Burkhard's sacrifice bunt and reached third on Christal Catafalmo's groundout before scoring on Cat Fitorre's single.

After allowing a single to Johnson, Sprague worked out of the bottom of the second inning without any further damage. Her battery mate, catcher Caitlin Lawson, then picked her up with a solo home run in the top of the third to give Shen a 2-1 lead.

Shaker pitcher Erica Vallecorsa settled down after that, though. She allowed only two more hits to finish with a complete-game four-hitter.

"When we needed her to make pitches, she did," Stevens said of Vallecorsa. "She kept them off balance all game."

Sprague worked out of several jams over the next three innings before Johnson gave Shaker its first win over Shen in nearly a decade.

"You try to treat it like any other game, but we hadn't beaten Shen in years," said Johnson.""

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