VIENNA - After losing both regular season meetings to Bristol last season, Mathews' Jessica Marsico had a chance to avenge those losses and make a statement in the Northeastern Athletic Conference.
The senior shortstop stepped up to the plate with the bases loaded and no outs in the bottom of the 10th inning, and she jumped on the first pitch she saw to deliver a single up the middle and score Meredith Grimes, giving the Mustangs a 4-3 win in extra innings.
Marsico finished the game 2-for-5 with a home run and three RBIs.
"I wanted to hit the ball anywhere and either get the girl on third home or manufacture something," Marsico said. "I saw the ball come in, met the ball and boom.
"It feels great especially after last year losing to them twice in league play."
The Mustangs (11-3, 8-0 NAC) came into the inning as cold as the rain that fell during the game.
After allowing three runs in the first three innings off a Tabby Granelly solo shot in the first and Marsico's two-run home run in the third, Bristol (6-1, 6-1) pitcher Ashlyn Slusher held Mathews to just one hit from the fourth to the ninth innings and didn't allow a single runner past first base.
"(Slusher)'s a very good pitcher," Mathews coach Jim Nicula said. "She had her moment there in the middle, maybe getting the better of us. We were getting underneath - a lot of pop ups."
Still, the Mustangs didn't lack the confidence going into the bottom of the 10th and managed to set up Marsico for the game-winning hit.
Grimes got on base on a walk, while both Granelly and Maddie Williams created the bases-loaded situation by hitting balls into shallow left-center and center field, with the Panther outfielders committing errors on both.
"It was cold, it was raining and we really wanted to win," Marsico said. "We pulled through. The Cardiac Kids - it's what we do."
Bristol coach Debbie Rowles said following the game despite the results, she's proud of her team's performance on the day. Between her freshman pitcher, who pitched a complete game and struck out eight batters in the losing effort, and the fact her team came back twice in the game to tie it up and send it to overtime, she has a few positives to pull from the contest.
"Our girls have nothing to be ashamed of," Rowles said. "Considering the conditions that we played under, that was a good game."
Now, Mathews controls its own destiny in the NAC, having the only unblemished conference record after giving Bristol its first lost of the season.
This differs from last season, when the Mustangs won the NAC but needed help in order to win. Even though there's still time left in the season, things are looking good for Mathews to repeat.
"We want to be in the driver's seat instead of being behind and trying to catch somebody," Nicula said. "It's probably going to come down to a battle with us later on. I'm sure there's going to be something at stake. We have in between to take care of, but it feels good to be where we're at."