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Leftfielder Cailin Cleary’s clutch catch saves Plainedge

Plainedge's Victoria Nowak allowed five hits in her

Plainedge's Victoria Nowak allowed five hits in her 4-1 complete-game victory over Bethpage at Plainedge High School on Wednesday, March 30, 2016. Photo Credit: Richard T. Slattery

Cailin Cleary followed the advice that was in her sock.

Before each game, Plainedge softball captains Kelsey Marigliano and Jackie Francisco select a quote that each player on the team prints on a piece of paper and puts in their sock.

“It’s to motivate the team,” Marigliano said after Plainedge defeated Bethpage, 4-1, Wednesday in Conference ABC-I. “Today’s quote said, ‘Some people want it to happen, some wish it would happen, and others make it happen.’ ’’

Cleary made it happen yesterday. She made a game-saving catch that she admits wasn’t pretty, but still . . . well, knocked the socks off her teammates.

“I was so relieved!” she said.

With runners on second and third, and Plainedge nursing a 2-1 lead in the top of the sixth inning, Bethpage’s Courtney Ludewig crushed a fly ball to deep leftfield. Cleary initially misplayed the ball somewhat but then backtracked and made a full-extension reach to haul it in.

“I was actually really nervous,” Cleary said. “I knew I had to make a big play. I wanted to save those two runs and make Coach proud.”

Victoria Nowak worked both sides of the plate, scattering five hits and three walks in a complete game. With the tying run at the plate in the top of the seventh, she induced a grounder to shortstop Marigliano to end the game.

“I just hit my spots and let my team back me up because I know they’re there for me,” Nowak said.

Bethpage’s Lauren Bloom allowed six hits and three walks, and escaped a bases-loaded, one-out jam in the fourth. Her sister, Kierstin, went 2-for-4.

Alexa Whitenack, who went 2-for-4, scored the first run on a double steal with Jackie Mahlmeister in the first inning. Lauren Mahlmeister followed with a bloop that dropped in to score another run. Kayla Castellano homered to the gap in left-center to pull Bethpage within 2-1 in the third. Plainedge scored on an error in the sixth, and Marigliano’s RBI single increased the lead to 4-1.

The season-opening win for Plainedge, which moved up from Conference II, means the team started on the right foot. It also means next game’s quote will stay with the same foot.

“When we win, we keep it in the same sock. When we lose, we switch it,” Marigliano said. “We had it in the right sock today. Hopefully, it’s staying there for a while.”

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