FARMINGDALE — In the fourth inning, Oak Hill’s Sadie Waterman opened Bella Marino’s at-bat with a changeup for a strike that left the Hall-Dale senior shaking her head and laughing.

In the seventh, with the game on the line, Marino enjoyed the last laugh.

Marino’s bases-loaded, bases-clearing double to center field capped a four-run rally for the Bulldogs, who walked off Oak Hill with a 10-9 Mountain Valley Conference softball win Wednesday. The win was the eighth in a row for Hall-Dale (9-1) and came in a contest in which the Raiders (7-2) led from the outset.

“I was willing to just wing it. Smack anything, because it just needed to go beyond the infield so we could score,” Marino said of her approach in the seventh. “For me, it’s a mentality. I’m nervous as it is, but coach just told me, ‘Do your thing, you know what to do,’ and I just had the confidence to do it.”

“One thing about Bella, she’s so low-key and she doesn’t get too upset,” Hall-Dale coach Steve Acedo said. “It takes a lot of faze her. If she takes an ugly swing, she just shakes it off and gets back in there. That paid off for her.”

After swinging and missing at the first Waterman offering in the game-winning at-bat, Marino roped a line drive ticketed for the gap in right-center field. Raider center fielder Mahala Smith tried to head it off at the pass and nearly did, but the tiniest of bobbles in the outfield provided all the time Emma Soule and Iris Ireland needed to score and tie the game before Grace Begin raced all the way around from first with the winning run.


Not that the Bulldogs even realized they had won.

“I think we thought we had tied it,” Begin said, and a somewhat muted celebration from a team which trailed 9-6 entering the final inning confirmed it.

That Begin and Marino were at the center of the crucial inning was significant. In a game featuring more than 20 hits from two potent offenses, the Nos. 5 and 6 hitters in the Hall-Dale lineup had combined to go 0 for 6 with four strikeouts through the first six innings.

But in the seventh, Sarah Benner reached on an error with one-out to touch off the rally and would eventually score on Begin’s RBI single to right.

“Something just switched on,” Begin said. “We talk about it a lot — senior year, what’s there to lose? You always feel like you have to get the biggest hit to win the game, but if you get in the box and you don’t get the home run, you’re swinging for the fences and you’re going to strike out. That’s what was happening to me. Finally, Bella and I just made contact.”

Oak Hill committed a pair of errors in the seventh on a day the Raiders would come to rue.


After jumping out to a 4-0 lead in the first half-inning of the game, Oak Hill could never quite put Hall-Dale away. The Raiders scored twice in the fourth, only to have the Bulldogs match that in the home half of the frame. In the fifth, Oak Hill scored three times — as did Hall-Dale in the bottom of the inning.

Despite the top four in the Oak Hill lineup going a combined 9 for 15 — including a 4 for 5 day from catcher and cleanup hitter Abby Nadeau — with five runs scored and six RBI, the Raiders still stranded 13 runners on base. Nine of those were in scoring position.

“It’s hard when you make way too many base-running errors, don’t capitalize on opportunities and make way too many mental mistakes,” Oak Hill coach Allyson Collins said. “They beat us because of it.”

Freshman Samantha Thornton came on in relief of Benner with the bases loaded and nobody out in the fifth inning and went the rest of the way in the circle to earn her first varsity win.

Ireland hit a solo home run to straightaway center field in the second inning to open the scoring for Hall-Dale. Benner was 2 for 4 with two runs scored and two RBI.

For Oak Hill, Nadeau and Julia Noel each drove in two runs.

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