SOUTH WILMINGTON — It was not the winning run, not late in a run-rule victory, but Gardner-South Wilmington first baseman Becca Bernardy scored the run that made the outcome official.
Bernardy capped a 4-for-4 day by coming home on a ball Emily Hopwood hit to the St. Anne shortstop to end a 10-0 win for the Lady Panthers in the championship game of their own Class 1A softball regional. The run ensured GSW its first regional championship in softball, or any other sport, since 2008.
GSW advances to play today in the Iroquois West Sectional at White Field at Durham Park in Onaraga versus Westminster Christian. Westminster Christian defeated Christian Liberty Academy 7-4 in the championship game at its own regional Saturday.
"It was actually super crazy, coming home and knowing we were going to win the game right then," Bernardy said. "It's so exciting, I can't even describe it. ... It felt great because it's a regional game. We wanted it so bad. It's just crazy."
Lady Panthers first-year coach Jon Posing, who spent seven years as head of the GSW baseball program, exorcised some personal demons with the win.
"For me, it's been eight long years," Posing said. "Seven years in baseball where we didn't win a regional and I felt we had some teams that were good enough to. I've been a nervous wreck about this one. I was up half the night last night. I'm just very happy with the ballgame we played and the way we made it happen."
Posing's nerves were quickly put at ease. An RBI double by Bernardy and an RBI single by Miranda Residori put the Lady Panthers ahead 2-0 by the end of the first inning. They added a run in the second and blew the game open with a four-run fourth. Emily Foley's two-run thiple was the biggest blow.
Meanwhile, St. Anne sent 13 batters to the plate before getting its first hit — a Breanna Cowsery infield single leading off the fifth — against Foley. By then, the Cardinals were down 7-0. Foley pitched a two-hit shutout, walking none and striking out six.
"I felt very comfortable going in because I knew the other girls were 100 percent behind me," Foley said. "I feel like I've had some games that are better than others, but with this team here backing me up, I always feel great. ... I'm so happy because now we'll have our name in the high school. We're the first team in a while that will be there."
Foley hit a pair of triples and was joined by Hopwood, Paige Lardi, Lexi Posing and Residori in getting two hits.
"It couldn't have happened any better than it did," Coach Posing said. "We've scored runs in bunches all season. ... The one thing we showed today was our ability to hit up and down the lineup."