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Dunaway, Ordway squeeze bunts, Cowburn pitching leads state-ranked Wellsville softball to 3-1 win

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By CHRIS BROOKS, sports editor, wellsvillesports.com

WELLSVILLE — Along with overwhelming showings of offense, and defense, there’s one last thing the Lady Lions of Wellsville have yet to encounter during the season — special teams. In this case, a game of small ball that could potentially determine a make-or-break situation for a team.

Three scoreless innings between them and visiting Otto-Eldred went by in a flash. In order to weave their way through the defense and onto the board, the Lady Lions had to think fast.

One word: Squeeze.

Beginning in the fourth inning and ending in the next, Wellsville capitalized on some incredibly smart small ball against the Lady Terrors, with Marissa Ordway and Emma Dunaway provided two separate squeeze bunts at the plate with the scoring run feet away at third, successfully implanting the hits into the dirt to score a pair of enormous runs to grab the lead they wanted on Otto-Eldred to hang onto, en route to a 3-1 edging on Monday at Tullar Field.

After a big hit against the overpowering winds that nearly exited play by Makenna Dunbar towards the beginning of the game, the realization for New York State’s fourth-ranked Class B school to enter Plan B in favor of small ball soon came after, according to head coach Matt Burke.

“Makenna put a really good swing on a pitch in the second, and I thought it was going to leave the park. But the wind definitely played a factor,” he said. “She doubled on the hit, and from that point on, we realized that we needed to play some small ball if we wanted to get some runs across the plate.”

So they did.

Beginning in the fourth inning, the Lady Lions (11-2) went to their bunts after Emma Dunaway led off the inning with reaching base. After being moved over on a sacrifice, and a single from Makenzie Cowburn, Marissa Ordway provided the first of the the bunts to help break the ice against Otto-Eldred, laying a beautifully-placed bunt down in the dirt to allow Dunaway to score.

In the fifth — the same story later on, as Marley Adams provided an RBI single to branch Wellsville’s lead out to a pair, scoring Sawyer Burke along the way, who led off the frame with a single. After moving her way into scoring position, the Lady Lions capitalized on another bunt, this time from Dunaway, who squeezed her in to score, giving the team the room they needed in the end to pick up the victory over Otto-Eldred.

While the offense was playing special teams, Cowburn dueled alongside Otto-Eldred’s Bri Heller all game long, each eclipsing the 10-strikeout mark along the way. The Lady Lions accounted for just five hits at the plate, while Cowburn allowed only two in her 16-strikeout performance, one-walk to pick up the win for the hosts in orange.

“Makenzie was electric tonight, and she was dominant hitting her spots and changing speeds,” Burke said. “It’s nice to be able to do some little things to score runs. With the pitching and defense that we have, it gives us a chance to be really successful.”

Wellsville will return to the field on Friday with a 5 p.m. first pitch against the Lady Mustangs of Dansville over the road.

Otto-Eldred 000 001 0 – 1 2 1

Wellsville 000 120 X – 3 5 0

O-E – Bri Heller (LP) (CG, 11K), and Katie Sheeler.

WLSV – Makenzie Cowburn (WP) (CG, 16K, BB), and Brazen Beckwith.

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