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For Jessica Dean, the game ball was the best birthday present she could have asked for.

Dean celebrated her 18th birthday by driving in five runs to lead the North Tonawanda Lady Jacks over the Tonawanda Lady Warriors 14-7 in non-league softball action that was played at T.K.Murphy Field Tuesday.

“I think it’s going to help our season a lot,” Dean said.”Because of the win today and my hitting it’s going to keep my motivation and confidence up.”

Dean, who went 3-for-4, stroked a three run triple to right field to give NT a 5-0 lead
She also hit a two run single in the sixth that gave the Lady Jacks some breathing room as it put them up 10-7.

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It was a reward for Dean who has been working hard in batting practice to beat her early season struggles.

“Honestly, I’m super excited about how it went and the fact that it’s my birthday,” Dean said.”Coach has been working with me. (Monday) all we did during practice was hit because all of our bats (were) a little down. But after hitting practice I really think it actually helped.”

The final score doesn’t give a true indication of how close the game was and just how clutch Dean’s hits were.

“Incredibly clutch,” said NT co-head coach Michelle Maggard. “She was making solid contact every at-bat. She did a great job today.”

The Lady Warriors were led by Bri Zientara who reached base all four times she stepped in the batters box.

And Sarah Frears whose two-run single sparked Tonawanda’s five-run,fourth that pulled the Warriors within one run, 6-5.

Though the Lady Warriors generated some quality offense,they were unable to get that clutch hit to get them over the top.

“We have a lot to learn from this game,” Tonawanda coach Kim Gerth said.”You’re right. We didn’t come up with the hit when we needed it. We had plenty of base runners. We left a ton of girls stranded. We just couldn’t come up with the hit. But I need to tell them not to hang their heads and keep plugging away because we are just a swing of a bat away or one good defensive play away.”

Savanna Haner (three runs) picked up the win as she struck out nine over her seven innings of work.

Kaylee Haner’s two run double to left put North Tonawanda up 2-0.

Laney Wieclaw also had a strong game for NT with two , two steals and two runs scored.

This marks the second year in a row the Jacks have won the softball edition of the TNT rivalry.

“It feels amazing,” Dean said with a smile.