SOUTH GLENS FALLS, N.Y. — At times this weekend, Brooke Scherer would catch a pitch, take off her glove and shake her hand to relieve the pain.
It wasn’t because catching a fastball thrown by Sarah Cornell doesn’t always feel so great. It was because Scherer’s left thumb was broken.
Cornell’s right arm will forever represent the driving force behind the Clarke softball team’s run to two straight state Class A championship games, including Sunday’s 6-5 loss to Maine-Endwell at Moreau Park. But Scherer’s left hand, bruised and cut from catching high-speed screwballs with her fingers wrapped in a cast, represents the Rams’ mentality of doing whatever must be done to help the team.
“I just shoved the cast in my glove, went out there and tried to help us win,” Scherer said.
Clarke (18-4) won plenty the last two years, capturing the first two Long Island championships in program history and twice coming within a few outs of a state title. “There’s nothing tougher than being the last team standing twice in a row,” coach Rachel Barry said.
With the score tied at 4 in the bottom of the fifth, Sabrina Caputo hit a leadoff triple to right-center and scored on Ally Koustagiannis’ grounder to give Clarke the lead.
In the top of the sixth, Cornell — who allowed 10 hits and four earned runs with 11 strikeouts — issued a one-out walk to Maine-Endwell pinch hitter Brianna Mancini, who then beat the throw to second on a potential forceout to put two on. After a pitch got away from Scherer and she threw to third, Mancini was called safe on a close play, and the ruling was upheld after the umpires convened. Mikayla Garbarino then hit a two-run double to left-center for a 6-5 lead.
Cornell and Caputo singled to start the seventh, but Holly Romeo’s line drive was caught by shortstop Alison Missavage, who stepped on second to complete the double play.
“We did as much as we could,” said Caputo (3-for-4). “I really thought we were going to take the championship home. We kept fighting.”
No one more than Scherer, the NYIT-bound senior who said she broke her thumb while swinging in the county final. After that, she gripped and swung the bat with one hand. She led off the fourth Sunday with a bunt single and scored on Kirstin Cox’s sacrifice fly, giving Clarke a 4-3 lead.
“Brooke’s a fighter,” said Cornell, whose two-run double in the third helped Clarke erase a 3-0 deficit.
Cornell, Long Island’s all-time leader in strikeouts, concluded a brilliant six-year varsity career and now will move on to Hofstra. “I’ll miss my teammates,” she said. “Leaving them is just heartbreaking. It’s been an amazing six years.”
Cornell and Scherer were the last two players to step off the field Sunday, sharing one final embrace as Clarke Rams. “I told her it was a pleasure catching for her because she’s one of the best pitchers in the state,” Scherer said. “It’s been fantastic being a part of this team. We made history for our school and we’re extremely proud of ourselves for that.”