MacArthur pitcher Taylor Brunn delivers to the plate during game...

MacArthur pitcher Taylor Brunn delivers to the plate during game two of the Nassau Class A softball championship against Clarke at the Mitchell Athletic Complex on Monday, May 29, 2023. Credit: Peter Frutkoff

When pushed to the brink of elimination, Taylor Brunn knows how to fashion a comeback.

“Yesterday I didn’t have my best stuff, I knew it,” Brunn said of MacArthur’s first loss of the season, to Clarke in Game 1 of the Nassau Class A softball finals. “Today, I knew it was now or never. I didn’t want it to be the last day I would wear the MacArthur uniform.”

Brunn struck out 11 in No. 1 seed MacArthur’s 1-0 shutout win over No. 2 Clarke in Game 2 Monday morning at Mitchel Athletic Complex.

MacArthur will face Clarke on Tuesday at 4:30 p.m. in Game 3 to decide the county crown.

“I had to trust myself that I could make pitches and hit spots. When I stepped onto the mound today, my confidence was back,” Brunn said. “They have a great lineup and I wanted to attack every batter.”

That confidence was also shown by junior Savannah Brennan. In the top of the sixth inning, Nicole Stuckenschneider and Colette O’Brien hit line-drive singles to the outfield to put runners on first and second base. With the game scoreless, Brennan knew her at-bat would be crucial.

“The previous two at-bats didn’t show what I was capable of,” Brennan said. “Our best girls were on base, so this time I knew that I had to give them the perfect opportunity to score a run.”

When Brennan singled to leftfield, Stuckenschneider began running home before stopping short and retreating to third base. Clarke catcher Amanda Chavarria threw to Madeline Millman at second base in an attempt to get the trail runner O’Brien out, who was between second and third. Meanwhile, Stuckenschneider dove home and scored ahead of a late throw back to Chavarria to give MacArthur (24-1) the only run of the game.

“It was just a moment of pure excitement,” Brennan added. “I was jumping up and down and when I saw Nicole going home, it was the best moment of my life.”

"I knew the centerfielder had a great arm, so I saw her going to throw and went back to third,” Stuckenschneider said. “As soon as I saw the catcher make the throw, I knew I had to put my body on the line. I usually never head dive, but I wanted to do whatever it took to win this game.”

MacArthur’s attempts to score in the final inning were halted by Emily Brown, who struck out six for Clarke (15-9).

“Today and yesterday were two completely different teams,’’ Brunn said. “Today you saw MacArthur softball.”

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