Yesterday may have marked the coronation of a new City League softball queen.
Clay claimed the league crown with an 8-2 thumping of Notre Dame at Detwiler Park. Clay's initial league title, achieved by a lineup that includes only one senior - and combined with wins in the junior varsity and freshman championships played before the varsity final - may signal the beginning of a new dynasty.
Clay coach Brenda Radabaugh cautioned that she just wants to take things one season at a time.
"Our JV's have won [the title] three years in a row, and our freshmen have been in the final game the last two seasons," Radabaugh said. "But to get all three in one season is an awesome feeling. It shows everyone in the program is working hard."
Clay's victory in the battle of the Eagles improved its record to 21-5. Notre Dame finishes 22-8.
The game was scoreless until the bottom of the fourth - in fact, the two teams didn't advance a runner past second until Clay used three walks to load the bases with two outs.
Clay pitcher Brandy Holmes then lined a 3-2 pitch into the right-center gap for a bases-clearing double.
"That was a huge, clutch hit," Radabaugh said. "She's been pitching great for us all year, and she's had clutch hits for us off and on. Everyone knows of her as a hitter, but she's an all-around athlete."
That hit seemed to change the entire tenor of the game. Clay added two runs in the fifth, thanks in large part to a pair of Notre Dame errors and an RBI single by Kristina Rendle, to build its lead to 5-0.
"We just broke down, we absolutely broke down," Notre Dame coach Jordan Stevens said. "[The bases-loaded double] was the back-breaker. It seemed as if mentally we fell apart after that."
Notre Dame did show some life with a pair of runs in the top of the sixth to cut Clay's lead to 5-2. Melissa Boraggina, Chrystal Okonta and Kelsey Brickman led off with singles, with Brickman's hit scoring Boraggina and Okonta.
But Clay took the life out of Notre Dame by scoring three times in the bottom of the frame. The big blow in that rally was a two-out, two-run single to right by Dana Romstadt.
"We talked in the huddle [before that inning] that those two runs mean nothing," Radabaugh said. "We already had the lead, so we were working on insurance."
Holmes, who was named tournament MVP, said she never noticed a difference on the bench.
"The whole team stays up [all game]," said Holmes, who struck out seven. "They always go psycho when people get hits."
Contact John Wagner at: