HOOKSETT - Junior pitcher Kianna Daudelin tripled in the bottom of the seventh and scored on a sacrifice fly from classmate Holly Donohue to give Coe-Brown Northwood Academy a 6-5 walk-off win over John Stark of Weare in the NHIAA Division II softball championship at Southern New Hampshire University Saturday.
The top-ranked Bears (18-2) won their third state title and first since 2010. No. 7 John Stark (14-6) put together a good run in the playoffs and came up just shy in a back-and-forth championship game.
"They're very resilient. There's no quitting," said Coe-Brown head coach Tim Tenasco of his squad. "It was a great game. I knew John Stark was going to fight to the very end. They're a better team than a lot of people thought."
Daudelin led off the seventh with the triple, belting it into center field. Senior catcher Shannon Burke drilled a shot toward right field, but Generals second baseman Jocelyn Dimond made the catch for one out. Donohue then stepped in and drove the ball to center and Daudelin tagged up and scored the winning run by sliding under the tag of catcher Jillian Kilar.
John Stark appealed the play, hoping that Daudelin had left third base early, but the run held up.
"I was just thinking of a base hit or something to get on," Daudelin said. "I heard my coach tell me to go (on the sacrifice fly) so I just did and hoped for the best. It was pretty close. I figured if I slid outside I'd get away from the ball more."
The last-gasp win ended what was a back-and-forth effort in which the Generals 3-2 at one point.
"It was a crazy game. I thought both teams played well. There were some errors on their side and our side from people that don't normally make them. I think nerves got to them, and it should at this level," said Stark head coach Rick Sweeney. "I like the battle like that. I'd rather lose a close one than a blowout. It was more fun that way. The way it should be."
Lauren Jones and Amanda Riley delivered back-to-back triples over center fielder Carly Cook's head to give Coe-Brown a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the first. Caitline Foley walked, advanced on a balk and groundout and eventually scored on a wild pitch to make it 2-0 Bears after two innings.
John Stark tied the game with a pair of runs in the top of the fourth. Cook knocked a one-out single into left field and Jacquelin Kilar moved her over with a grounder back to the mound, but when Daudelin fielded the ball and threw to second she found Jones was not on the bag yet so everyone was safe.
Daudelin struck out Kendall Keim for the second out and then Jillian Kilar grounded out to third base, but first baseman Jessica Ohrenberger bobbled the throw from Foley and both runners scored as the ball got away.
The Generals took a brief 3-2 lead with a run in the top of the fifth. Dimond singled with one out and then stole second base. Madison Janelle moved Dimond to third base with a groundout and Cook drove her home with a single into left field.
Coe-Brown scored three runs in the bottom of the fifth inning to turn a 3-2 deficit into a 5-3 lead. Riley homered to right-center with one out and Daudelin followed with a home run to left field to give the Bears a 4-3 lead.
John Stark pitcher Lyndsey Turner struck out Burke for the second out, but Donohue sent a hot shot down the third base line Madison Janelle got her glove on but could not come up, allowing Donohue to reach second. Foley drove Donohue home to make it 5-3.
Back came the Generals, tying the game with two runs in the top of the sixth. Jillian Kilar reached base on an error with one out and moved to second base on a passed ball. Turner singled past first base to make it first-and-third. Daudelin got Riley Beliveau to fly out to right, but No, 9 hitter Meghan Brown doubled into center field to score Kilar and Turner to make it 5-5.