Information used in this story comes courtesy of the Fredonia Sports Information Department.
FREDONIA, N.Y. - The latest SUNYAC Game of the Week stems from Fredonia softball's matchup against Oneonta in the first game of a doubleheader from Sunday, April 28. The Blue Devils found themselves in need of a win to help keep their playoff chances alive, and were able to succeed in dramatic fashion thanks to a walk-off single in the seventh inning from senior Rhianna Paoletti, helping the team win 6-5.
Oneonta's Brooke Corbett helped the Red Dragons score their first three runs thanks to her extra base power. Her double in the second inning preceded a two-run single by Amanda Sexton. Corbett led off the fourth inning with her second double and scored on a single by Dana Del Genio to give the Red Dragons a 3-0 lead.
It was the bottom of the fourth inning where Fredonia broke through, scoring two runs. Two walks and a bunt single by Maddy O'Heir loaded the bases. Cassie Herman singled to right for the first run. Alyssa Piniewski grounded out but brought in the second run. The threat ended when the Blue Devils ran into an inning-ending double play on a flyball to left, allowing Oneonta to hang on to a 3-2 lead.
After a quiet fifth inning, Oneonta's Dana Del Genio reached first base in the sixth with the help of a Fredonia error, which proved to be costly. Del Genio would proceed to steal second base, and shortly after steal third. A sacrifice fly by Lauren Sabatino allowed Del Genio to score. Corbett then brought in the fifth run with a two-out double in the top of the seventh.
Heading into the bottom of the seventh down 5-2 and with their season hanging on the line, Fredonia's first batter started the inning with a strikeout, but the Blue Devils would quickly start to scrap together a game-winning rally. It started with a single by Karli Murray, followed by an Oneonta error. Katie Yudin singled in the first run and Nicole Kumro doubled in the second. A third run scored on the play when the Oneonta left-fielder overran the ball hit by Kumro. A single by O'Heir and a walk to Megan Maull preceded Paoletti's game-winning hit, a one-strike smash to deep left.
With another tally in the win column, Fredonia managed to keep its playoff hopes alive for the sixth and final spot in the SUNYAC Softball Tournament. After losing to Oneonta in the second game of Sunday's doubleheader, their post season fate rested on the outcome of Monday's doubleheader between Brockport and Plattsburgh. If the Cardinals and Golden Eagles split their doubleheader, a series of tiebreakers, too numerous to mention, would need to be triggered to decide the sixth seed. However, Plattsburgh lost both games to Brockport, allowing Fredonia to snag a spot in the SUNYAC Tournament for the first time since 2015.
Player of the Game: She was put into the game late, and only had one at bat - but Rhianna Paoletti made her lone plate appearance count. Her walk-off heroics are part of the reason why Fredonia's season isn't over just yet.
What's next: Fredonia will take on No. 1-seeded Cortland in the first game of the SUNYAC Tournament Thursday at 9 a.m. in Cortland. Oneonta, the No. 4 seed, takes on No. 3 New Paltz at 1 p.m. in Game 3 of the Tournament. The loser of Game 1 will go head to head with the loser of Game 2. If four teams remain in the Tournament following Game 6 on Friday, the winner of Game 4 will take on the loser of Game 6 that same day.
You can watch Paolett's walk-off hit in the video below.