BINGHAMTON, N.Y. — The time was starting to tick away.
Another shot at a Section 4 title seemed to be slowly slipping away, but there was no way Wendi Hammond was going to let it happen.
The Waverly senior has worked her entire career to try and be a sectional champ, and she wasn’t leaving Saturday without the title.
Hammond hit a game-tying home run in the sixth, and struck out 13 in a three-hitter as the Wolverines beat Susquehanna Valley 2-1 to claim the Section 4, Class B title.
“It feels amazing, it’s indescribable,” Hammond said. “The past two years we have fallen short and it feels great to finally come out on top. Especially this time, I felt like we were the more experienced team and we were ready to come out on top.”
All game long Hammond was dominant on the mound, but it was Susquehanna Valley who got on the board first.
Alex Deeter led off the fourth inning with a double down the third-base line. The ball took a bounce off a glove at third and bounced down the line.
From there, Susquehanna Valley played some small ball. Ava Spottek hit a sacrifice bunt to move Deeter to third and Madison Tuttle followed with a bunt. Hammond dove and threw home while laying on the ground, but Deeter got home before the tag to put Susquehanna Valley up 1-0. Tuttle wound up at third in the inning, but Hammond ended the inning with a strikeout.
The game stayed 1-0 into the sixth, that’s when Hammond blasted a home run to left center to tie the game.
“I knew I had to make the adjustments,” Hammond said. “The first two at-bats weren’t very good, so I knew I had to make the adjustment and go up there and do it for my team.”
Hammond was just trying to get on base to start the inning, but she wound up quickly tying things.
“I am just going for base hits, home runs are accidents,” she said.
For the Waverly players the home run got them going.
“We woke up,” Riley Hall said after the home run. “We knew we were in this game, we weren’t chasing one run, they had to start chasing us.”
It took just four pitches after the home run for Waverly’s bats to keep the energy going as Hali Jenner hit a double.
“That was huge,” Hammond said of Jenner’s hit. “They don’t understand how big those hits were. They kept the momentum going and I feel like we took the momentum from them.”
One batter later Riley Hall followed with a hit bringing home Jenner with what proved to be the winning run.
“I was sitting on fastball, looking for changeup and she threw me a changeup I made her regret,” Hall said.
It was the top three in the lineup that accounted for both of the runs, and the three knew in the sixth inning they had to come through.
“The top of the lineup knew what needed to be done and we did what needed to be done,” Hall said.
Hammond has been in sectional finals before. She knew what had to be done in that sixth inning.
In soccer, basketball and softball the Waverly star has seen her teams run into eventual state champions deep in sectionals.
“I felt like I had to make a play and I knew my team would come through,” Hammond said.
Waverly wanted to add to their lead, but Susquehanna Valley pitcher Deeter limited them to four hits, striking out nine in the game.
“We didn’t sit on the lead, we needed insurance runs,” Hall said. “But, those didn’t come, the third strike (by Hammond) came in and we won the game.”
Other than that sixth inning Deeter allowed just one hit in the game, a Paige Lewis single, but Hammond felt like as the game went on the Waverly hitters adjusted and were ready in that sixth inning.
“I just think we made the adjustments that were right,” Hammond said. “We knew she was throwing changeup, we sat on changeup. I felt like we made the right adjustments, at the right time.”
Susquehanna had a runner on in the bottom of the sixth, and it looked like they may get runners on first and third with two outs, but Morgan Adams made a strong throw on a hit to shortstop and the runner at first was called out on a bang-bang play.
In the seventh Hammond put the game away herself, striking out the side on 11 pitches to seal the victory.
With softball the Waverly star knows that as the pitcher she has a lot of control over the game, and that’s what she did on the mound Saturday.
“I had a lot of control,” she said. “I felt it. I took it batter by batter, and striking out the first batter in the last inning helped a lot.”
After all the times coming close to winning titles, it was special for Hammond and the Wolverines to get the crown on Saturday.
“It is really special,” Hammond said. “We have fallen short, and finally to come out on top senior year, it feels great.”
Waverly will take on the Section 3 champion on Friday at 5:30 p.m. at Carrier Park in East Syracuse in the regional game. The winner advances to the state Final Four at Moreau Recreational Park.
“I am really excited, since Section 4 usually represents well at states,” Hammond said.