Behind Ward’s 2-hitter, Highland wins first state playoff game

THIELLS – Yes, Highland ace Shannon Ward is dealing these days.

Ward continued her postseason dominance with a two-hitter in a 3-1 win over Valhalla in the opening-round of the Class B state softball tournament at North Rockland High School on Friday. As for her postseason numbers, they are impressive. Ward, a senior is now 4-0 in the playoffs with 46 strikeouts in 25 innings, allowing just 10 hits.

She is 13-4 on the season.

The next team Ward will try to mow down is Center Moriches in the Class B state quarterfinals at 5 p.m. Saturday at Rhinebeck High School.

Both of Valhalla’s hits off Ward were singles – by Jenna Saldi in the second inning and Kristen Colabatistto in the sixth. Valhalla scored its only run in the sixth on a sacrifice fly by Elena Radesich that scored Leia Scalley. Highland took a 1-0 lead in the first inning on catcher Kellie Panek’s seventh homer of the season. Michaela Raffaele added an RBI triple for Highland in the third inning and McKenna Wood had an RBI single in the fourth.

Ward was in trouble against Valhalla only once – in the sixth. Scalley led off the inning with a walk and followed Colabatistto by reaching on an infield single. The next batter, Kaylie Dymek, ripped a ball into the left centerfield gap that looked like it was going to drop in for an extra-base hit. However, Highland center fielder Lindsay Chlus made a highlight reel-style grab.

“I didn’t think I could make that play at first,” Chlus said. “But I was just going to try to make it. I ran as hard as I could to get there and, luckily, I got it. I was just staring at the ball, hoping it would make it into my glove.”

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