History, in the form of a first state championship, was right within the reach of the Solvay softball team as it took to the field at South Glens Falls' Moreau Recreation Center Saturday afternoon, one victory away from the biggest prize of all.
And while the Bearcats gave its full effort, it never could solve Jill Murray, pitching ace for Eden, who threw a no-hitter to lead the Raiders past Solvay 1-0 in eight innings to claim the state Class B title.
Eden, a Section VI school located nearly 20 miles south of Buffalo, had required two runs in the bottom of the seventh inning just to make it out of its state semifinal with Center Moriches (Section XI), prevailing 4-3, while Solvay had topped Mechanicville (Section II) 2-0 in the other state semifinal.
What's more, the Bearcats' semifinal game finished much earlier than the Raiders' did. Consequently, Solvay had time to rest, while Eden had to go through a quicker turnaround.
But as it turned out, Eden didn't need much rest - especially Murray, who would engage in a pitcher's duel with Solvay ace Jackie Gardner that few would ever forget.
Each pitcher zipped through the first two innings. Then, in the top of the third, Solvay got its best opportunity, as Murray walked one batter and hit another, but the Bearcats could not get the hit it needed to move out in front.
Gardner, meanwhile, surrendered a handful of hits in the early innings, but shut things down when she needed to, keeping the game 0-0. But the toll of pitching back-to-back games would finally get to Gardner at the end.
Back-to-back hits helped Eden move the winning run into scoring position in the bottom of the seventh, and while Gardner again escaped, she would not be as fortunate an inning later.