QUEENSBURY, N.Y. -- Sayville pitcher Merissa Selts had carried her team through the regular season, through the playoffs and within seven outs of a state title. But after misfortune struck, she needed her teammates to carry her the rest of the way.
In the fifth inning, a line drive off the bat of Jamesville-Dewitt's Mary Young hit Selts' throwing hand. Cut and bleeding, the righthander's day had come to an end. Then Kathleen Maehr strode to the circle.
Maehr tossed 21/3 scoreless innings of relief (allowing only an inherited runner to score) and Cindy Griffin had the go-ahead fielder's choice in the bottom of the fifth to lead the Golden Flashes to their first Class A softball state championship, 5-4, Saturday at the Adirondack Sports Complex.
"We're the first team from Sayville to do this, and to be the only softball team from Long Island to win states this year is amazing," Selts said.
Selts pitched the Golden Flashes (23-4) into the championship game with a three-hit, 2-0 semifinal win over Cornwall earlier in the day.
The first batter Maehr faced, Deb Toscano, laced an RBI double to give Jamesville-Dewitt a 4-3 lead. Maehr settled in, retiring the side in order in the sixth and seventh.
"Our whole thing this year has been to have each other's backs," Maehr said. "When we saw Merissa go down, we knew we had to step up."
Fortunately for the Golden Flashes, they had another veteran pitcher in Maehr, who entered the game with four wins this season. So when Selts exited, wincing in pain, nobody on the Sayville bench panicked.
"I had no doubts," coach Tiffany Rowan said. "My big thing was that my team needed to go out and do it for Merissa. She worked her butt off to get us here, and we needed to carry her the rest of the way."
In the fifth Kerry Keenan, who replaced Selts in the batting order, stroked an RBI single to tie the score at 4. Two batters later, Griffin's sharp grounder to shortstop Maggie Austin forced a throw home that couldn't beat the sliding Emily Sellitti.
"I know that they truly have my back, and this really proved it to me," Selts said.
Added Griffin: "I wanted to pick up our team because we lost Merissa. I needed to pick it up for her because she's the reason we are here."
Selts, though, refused to bow out meekly by just sitting on the bench. Before the start of the sixth and seventh innings, she jogged out to the circle and led the team huddle.
"She's a big part of this team, brings us together and is our leader," Rowan said. "Even when she was hurt, she took it upon herself to keep her team focused and ready to go."
Against the Syracuse-area Red Rams (21-5), they made three errors and coughed up an early 3-0 advantage.
"We haven't done anything easy all year," Rowan said. "I don't know why this game would be any different. But I have to say, every single time my girls have come together and picked each other up. And that is why we're here."
And nothing, not even an injury to their ace, could stymie the Golden Flashes.
"We knew that this was the year," Selts said. "We truly weren't done until right now."