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Sterling wins pitching duel, sectional title

Kylie McGoldrick wanted the ball to be hit to her.

Kylie McGoldrick wanted the ball to be hit to her.

Buena didn't disappoint her.

McGoldrick, a senior shortstop, handled eight chances flawlessly and scored the only run to lead Sterling to a 1-0 victory over Buena on Friday in the South Jersey Group 2 softball final.

"You're always asking for the ball to be hit to you," said McGoldrick, who has signed with Virginia Tech. "You want to make the plays."

Top-seeded Sterling (22-3) played strong defense behind pitcher Sarah Almasy and scored the only run on a bases-loaded walk to capture its third sectional title in the last five years.

Almasy, a senior righthander, allowed three hits and struck out four as Sterling, the No. 1 team in The Inquirer Top 10, advanced to face Central Jersey champion Robbinsville in the state semifinals Tuesday at Wall.

"This is what we've been working for all year," Almasy said.

The well-played game took just 67 minutes as both pitchers fired three-hitters with a combined three walks. There also was just one error.

"We knew it would be like this," Buena coach Pam Pickett said. "It was a final. Both teams are good."

Junior pitcher Brittany Scott struck out nine for second-seeded Buena (25-5). Only one of Sterling's hits reached the outfield.

"We put too much pressure on our pitcher by not scoring runs," Pickett said. "She pitched a wonderful game."

McGoldrick had four assists and four putouts.

"She has such an amazing glove," Almasy said.

McGoldrick scored the only run in the third. She reached base on a fielder's choice after Paige Sendler had led off the inning with an infield single.

Almasy reached on a bunt single, and Kylie O'Donnell walked. With two outs, Sydney Allen walked on a 3-2 pitch to force home the run that was the difference in the game.

"It looked good to everybody," Pickett said of the close pitch.

The 1-0 lead was enough for Almasy, who didn't walk a batter, thanks to air-tight defense.

Left fielder Ashley Sims ended Buena's best rally by spearing a line drive and firing to second baseman Kate Biasi for an inning-ending double play in the third.

McGoldrick gobbled up nearly everything else, including a leadoff line drive by Buena sparkplug Maria Santiago in the sixth.

"Sarah was phenomenal," McGoldrick said of Almasy. "She was focused on what she had to do, and she never looked away."

Buena   0000000 - 030

Sterling   001000x - 131

WP: Sarah Almasy. LP: Brittany Scott.