What do Brooke Scherer and Eli Manning have in common? Before the biggest games of their lives, they received advice from the same person.
And, like Manning, Scherer came through with a game-saving -- scratch that, championship-saving -- moment.
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Scherer's go-ahead home run in the sixth inning propelled Clarke to an 11-4 win over Mount Sinai Friday night in the Long Island Class A softball championship game at St. Joseph's Athletic Complex.
At school on Friday, the Rams received a motivational speech from Gian Paul Gonzalez. The New Jersey high school teacher and Christian minister gave the Giants a pep talk that led to their postseason motto, "All In," when they won the Super Bowl in 2012.
"He gave us a poker chip and told us to be all in," said Scherer, who had two hits and three RBIs. "To be committed to whatever we're doing and never give up."
After Sabrina Caputo drew a walk, Scherer launched a two-run home run estimated at 230 feet to straightaway centerfield to give Clarke a 4-3 lead. Kirstin Cox's sacrifice fly and Selena Ruiz's RBI single sent Clarke into the bottom of the sixth with a 6-3 lead. The Rams blew it open with a five-run seventh.
Sarah Cornell struck out 16 in seven innings, allowing seven hits and five walks for Clarke (22-2), which will play in the state semifinals against Starpoint or Pittsford Mendon at 9 a.m. June 13 at Moreau Park in Glens Falls.
"This is the best feeling in the world," Cornell said.
With the score tied at 2 in the fifth, Cassandra Wilson singled, stole second and scored on a single by Love Drumgole to give Mount Sinai (21-3) a 3-2 lead.
That set the stage for Scherer, who had Gonzalez's message in mind. Underneath her wristband was the poker chip he had given the Rams, just as he did with the Giants. It signified going all in.
"I thought this was my chance to change things," Scherer said. "I saw that pitch, my favorite pitch, low and inside and took it right over the fence. ''
Gonzalez had told the Rams about a trip he took to the aquarium, too. ""His grandfather told him that sharks lose teeth but they never lose who they are," Cornell said. "So he gave us shark teeth so we never stop being who we were meant to be.''
Said Scherer, "We were meant to be Long Island champs."