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By Brian Fees
Southern Tier Sports Report
SOUTHPORT — The lead was down to 3-2 in the sixth inning in a Section 4, Class C quarterfinal game, and the Notre Dame Crusaders knew they needed a big play.

Payton Miller was 1-for-3 in the game heading into the inning, but in the biggest moment she made the biggest play, ripping a three-run double to left, and scoring on an error to suddenly turn a 3-2 game into a 7-2 lead in an 8-5 Notre Dame victory.

“It was perfect, our girl Payton, she was going through a little bit of a slump this game and it was just a great pick me up for her and for the entire game, it was a perfect situation for her,” Notre Dame catcher Lawson Bigelow said.

The Crusaders were tested in the game, but they responded with the victory. For Notre Dame the way they responded is a positive as they advance in sectionals.

“It helped a lot,” Shannon Maloney said. “We know now we are prepared and we have to be ready coming into the rest of the games this season. We know what is up for the next two games now.”

Notre Dame’s players know they can’t wait to get the offense going in future games.

“We know we can’t come in playing to a team’s level, we have to come in playing to our level and keep what we do and not go back,” Bigelow said.

And, the Crusaders know when they play as a group they are tough to beat.

“I think we deserved that win and I think we are just really good as a team,” Bigelow said. “I think all of us putting our work together, I love it.”

Notre Dame started the scoring in the second inning as Shannon Maloney led off the inning with a solo home run.

“It felt good,” Maloney said. “I have been in a slump lately and ever since I got back I have been moving toward that and it feels really good to have it.”

Maddie Fargo made it 2-0 as she singled and stole second and third before scoring.

In the fourth inning Fargo led off with a single and again scored to make it 3-0.

It was the top of the sixth inning when Sidney got things going as a walk, and a pair of errors helped lead to a pair of runs to cut the deficit to 3-2 before the big inning for Notre Dame.

Sidney scored three in the bottom of the seventh, including a home run, but the five-run sixth inning was enough for Notre Dame to get the win.

The big sixth-inning rally started with back-to-back hits by number eight and nine hitters Maddie Gleason and Paige Harvey.

For Notre Dame that was a big key as everyone in the lineup contributed to the win.

“It was great, it gives us confidence we can trust in our whole lineup and everybody,” Bigelow said. “It’s not just one or two or three players, it’s everybody on the team who makes the team.”

Bigelow had three hits in the game, two of them were two of the hardest hit singles you’ll ever find. One nearly took the fence down, bouncing off the top of the fence.

“They were great hits, I was upset they didn’t go out, but it was great because I got RBI and I did what I needed to do for the team,” Bigelow said.

Olivia Switzer struck out 13 on the mound for Notre Dame and Maloney was 4-for-4 with two RBI.

Switzer scored a run in the game and Ava Mustico had two hits, with an RBI, a double and a run scored in the game.

Miller had the double, two hits, three RBI and a run scored and Fargo had two hits and scored two runs.

Gleason and Harvey each had a hit and a run scored.

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