By CHRIS BROOKS, sports editor, wellsvillesports.com @iambrooksie
SCIO — Avoca/Prattsburgh and Friendship/Scio have started to become familiar with one another over the course of the past year.
It began with a meeting in last year’s Class D2 Semifinals where the Lady Golden Eagles were able to survive a small-ball battle to squeeze their way into the Finals, where they would eventually come away as Champions for the first time in nearly three decades.
The next time? More recently – two weeks ago in Avoca, when Avoca/Prattsburgh repaid the favor with a 6-2 victory in a game that Friendship/Scio coach Deb Kane would like to have back again. But to make sure a similar scenario didn’t pan out once more, the girls simply went back to the basics.
Putting softball on the top of their minds.
“We went over there to play them, and we were flat,” said Kane. “When they got off the bus, and during the warm-ups, we were flat. We came in early today and did some extra hitting of the tees, and some other drillers to really get our minds going again. We were here at 3:30 to make sure they were thinking softball. That was a big part of it.”
The extra early preparation would prove to be useful for Friendship/Scio against Avoca/Prattsburgh for the final time this season in the Class D Quarterfinal round on Tuesday in what turned out to be another small-ball battle.
Only this time around, perhaps the strongest Sectional debut was recorded by Nevaeh Ross through the thick of the action.
One that was the definition of dominant in every sense of the word.
The Friendship/Scio sophomore was firing gas all game long, freezing the seventh-seeded Lady Titans at the plate completely by allowing just a single baserunner to reach off a walk. The rest of the outs? – All covered by the defense, with 16 of them coming by way of the phenom’s arm, as she put a bow on a marvelous and overwhelming no-hit performance to get the defending Sectional champions off on the right foot with a 6-0 victory on Tuesday in Scio.
“She’s the key to the team. Her and her sister Morghyn (Ross),” Kane said. “They have been the main reason as to why we’ve been so successful over these past couple of years. We had to make sure the defense was on their feet all game, and for them to deliver a win like this was huge. After being beaten by them over the road, they felt snake-bitten at first. You could tell they were nervous given the situation of the game, but this ended up being a great game for them to be a part of.”
Friendship/Scio (14-4) had to play another round of small-ball with Avoca/Prattsburgh to get the job done once and for all, recording just three hits in all at the plate while Ross dished out one of the more dominant performances she has had all season long for the No. 2 seeds.
It would begin right away in the first inning when Claire Calhoun provided a pair of RBI bunts, with the first coming after a lead-off single by Ross, scoring her on the next at-bat through some heads-up baserunning from third to open the door towards a 1-0 lead for the hosts in white and purple.
Both pitchers would deal a scoreless inning in the second before Friendship/Scio went back to work again in the third inning, starting one of two straight bases-loaded opportunities on offense. The team would score a run each time off bases-loaded walks issued to Jaedyn Shields, but the Avoca/Prattsburgh defense held their end of the bargain by leaving all of the bags occupied to end the inning.
A potentially devastating crisis avoided by the Lady Titans.
But the damage would soon escalate a tad higher for Friendship/Scio, as Morghyn Ross delivered what was deemed as the team’s biggest hit of the evening – an RBI double that hit directly off the center field fencing to score Nevaeh from second, trading spots with her in the process to branch out the Friendship/Scio lead to five.
On the other side, the offense for the No. 7 seeds could not find its rhythm despite their lone baserunner in Riley Stowe reaching on the lone walk issued by Ross the entire game, ultimately making her way towards second base to get caught in a pickle between second and third not once, but twice.
Stowe would be declared safe both times, but on the next at-bat with two outs, she would be left on by Ross after delivering an inning-ending strikeout.
That would give one final burst of energy for the hosts to finish out their immaculate performance on both sides with a run coming in to score in the sixth on a steal home before Ross sealed the victory with her arm, striking out the last batter to complete a no-no for the defending Sectional Champions to begin their trek back to the Finals on the right foot.
Ross’ opposing counterpart, Avoca/Prattsburgh’s Annabella Putnam provided a solid showing from within the circle herself, fanning 13 in her tossed three-hitter.
Friendship/Scio now prepares for a Class D Semifinal meeting against No. 3 C.G. Finney beginning on Thursday back in Scio in a 5 p.m. first pitch, with the stakes on reaching the Finals this weekend continuing to rise.
The winner will face either No. 4 Fillmore or No. 1 Honeoye.
Avoca/Prattsburgh 000 000 0 – 0 0 4
Friendship/Scio 101 211 X – 6 3 0
A/P – Annabella Putnam (LP) (CG, 13K, 9BB), and Riley Stowe.
F/S – Nevaeh Ross (WP) (CG, 16K, BB), and Morghyn Ross.
No. 1 Honeoye 4, No. 8 Genesee Valley/Belfast 3
HONEOYE — Head coach Mark Sullivan has said over the course of time that his Lady JagDogs team could go up against some of the best of the best. Since their 12-0 loss to the hands of Friendship/Scio back towards the middle of the season, they have been in every game, win or loss.
The eight-seeds would back it up with perhaps one of their best outings of the season against top-seeded Honeoye. They would start fast right in the opening sequence, building a lead that they would hold for much of the battle.
But then, it began to slowly deteriorate and then in the blink of an eye, Honeoye made it vanish.
Little by little, the Lady Bulldogs responded by chipping away ever so carefully, beginning with their first run in the home half of the first inning. As they continued to chip away, the Honeoye offense reached its high point in the middle innings with a stand of offense that allowed them to take the lead away from Genesee Valley/Belfast to complete the comeback win by a 4-3 count in the Quarterfinal round.
“It was definitely a game that we were really competitive in. We couldn’t get the timely hit when we could, especially coming down the stretch,” said Lady JagDogs coach Mark Sullivan. “We had runners on every single inning except for the seventh. Hannah (Southwick-Powers) pitched a wail of a game, her best of the season, and we made some nice defensive plays behind her. Someone had to win, someone had to lose, but I’m proud that these girls took the top seeds down to the wire.”
Genesee Valley/Belfast (8-12) started strong out of the gates with an early 3-0 lead on Honeoye, making their presence known with the help of Ashley Burrows at the plate, who drove in a pair of runs off a single at the plate to break the ice.
The chances from that point forward for the Lady JagDogs to add to their lead would come and go. Along with it, Honeoye would take the chance to slowly chip away at their early deficit beginning with a run in the bottom of the first to trail by a pair.
After a scoreless second inning was traded between the two clubs, the Lady Bulldogs started to creep closer with another run in the third, building momentum for the game-turning moment in the next inning – a two-run fourth that saw them tie, and ultimately take the lead away for good from the Lady JagDogs, as their defense managed to hold down the fort to claim victory in the end.
Genesee Valley/Belfast recorded all three of their runs off six total hits, with Burrows finishing with a pair to go with her two-run hit back during the team’s first at-bats. Harley Proctor would add two more hits herself along the way.
Despite the defeat to the Lady Bulldogs, Hannah Southwick-Powers engineered one of her best performances of the season to close out the 2022 campaign, fanning 12 total Honeoye batters in her complete game.
The Lady JagDogs have officially concluded their season, as their journey comes to an end with a record of 8-12. The team will graduate five Seniors in a matter of weeks, including their lone starter on the field in Lexi Burrows, as she will be joined by Brooke Middaugh, Cayla Mura, Rhea Bentley and Ildiko Szabo.
“I have all my starters but one coming back to do this all over again next year,” Sullivan said. “We should have another competitive season when the next Spring comes back around. We’ve had our ups and downs, and we’ve had some really close games. I told them at the beginning of the year that we needed to get better as the year went on. They really took that to heart, and grew more confident in themselves. I knew it was going to take a while with both schools coming together with this merger. But when I look back, you couldn’t tell that they were two schools, they were one team. Hopefully, that will carry into next year.”
Genesee Valley/Belfast 300 000 0 – 3 6
Honeoye 101 200 X – 4 9
GVB – Hannah Southwick-Powers (LP) (CG, 12K), and Harley Proctor.
HON – Alexis Johnson (WP) (CG, 7K, 3BB), and Sydney Pulver.
No. 4 Fillmore 23, No. 12 Elba 11
FILLMORE — It was one of the more wild, offensive bonanzas that the season has encountered. Between No. 12 Elba and No. 4 Fillmore, a grand total of 34 runs off 26 total hits were scavenged, with each club delivering haymaker after haymaker in the early stages of the battle.
t was a pace that would last for almost the entire game, until one incredible inning of offense altered that dramatically.
That was provided by the host Lady Eagles during what would be their final at-bats of the game, as she scored a massive 14-run bottom of the sixth inning to break a 9-9 tie with the Lady Lancers, sprinting away towards the finish line and a spot in Class D Semifinal round with a 23-11 victory to force elimination.
“This pretty much summarizes what our season has looked like. We have moments of brilliance and then other moments like we are new to this,” said Lady Eagles coach Jon Beardsley. “Offensively, we were solid all night. Torann had a big night and Lizzy returned to her dominant self in the second half of the game to help set us up for a Semifinals trip, and that is no easy feat. I am proud of the girls for their efforts and sticking with things. We’ve got a chance to go to the Finals, and you really can’t ask for much more.”
Through the first portion of the contest, the Lady Eagles (11-7) were able to get on the board first behind back-to-back singles off the bat from Preslee Miller and Saige Friedl to give them an early 2-0 lead to control. After the defense closed out the first, the Elba offense went to work themselves with a five-run second, two of them scoring on error to fuel their special teams efforts on the bases.
Fillmore would tie the game up with a three-run frame in the home half of the same inning behind a two-run single from Torann Wolfer, a hit that would come before Lizzy Nugent tied the game with a fielder’s choice in the infield to close out the second.
Both teams would then go back and forth in the third inning, with the Lady Eagles taking brief control once again behind RBI’s from Wolfer and Zoe Beardsley. The game would navigate its way towards a final tie by a 9-9 count after just over five innings in the books.
With the deadlock waiting to be broken, Fillmore wasted no time by putting the hammer down at the plate, and on the bases, scoring a humongous 14-run bottom half of the sixth – an inning that saw the Lady Eagles go through their entire lineup nearly twice to pull away from Elba’s reach for good in the end.
When it was all said and done, the hosts in white and green provided 23 runs off 15 total hits at the plate, with Wolfer’s big night leading the charge in a 4-for-6 outing and six game-high RBI. Nugent adds to the help with three hits of her own including a double, and four RBI of her own. Oakley Frazier chipped in with three hits, while Saige Friedl finished with two.
In the circle, Friedl grabbed the win by handing out four strikeouts and walking three in her complete game.
The Lady Eagles are now on their way to the Class D Semifinal round, which begins on Thursday when they hit the road to visit No. 1 Honeoye in a 5 p.m. first pitch to determine who advances to this weekend’s Finals, with No. 3 C.G. Finney or No. 2 Friendship/Scio waiting on the other side.
Elba 051 20 1 2 – 11 11 5
Fillmore 232 11 (14) X – 23 15 4
ELB – Carolyn Sybertz (LP) (CG, 6K, 9BB), and Selena Franko.
FIL – Saige Friedl (WP) (CG, 4K, 3BB), and Kada Frazier.
Class B2 Quarterfinals
No. 3 Avon 5, No. 6 Wellsville 0
AVON — The title defense for the Lions of Wellsville in the Class B2 Playoffs has reached its end on Tuesday, as the host No. 3 Avon Braves took care of business on their home court to force elimination in the Quarterfinal round with a 5-0 shutout.
The Lions (5-7) were engaged in battle all match long, seeing three of their five matches with the Braves go the extra mile across all three sets. Among them, a pair in the singles department with Matt Bittel and Ryan Carlton, as both recorded the same end result – a second-set tiebreak victory that Avon would overcome in the final set, taking the 6-2, 5-7, 6-3 decision in the end.
In the doubles matches, the same occurred with Wellsville’s team of Mohamed Ahmed and Keaton Sharpe, as they bounced back after a tiebreak in the first set by surviving a back-and-forth second set to force a last stanza of action that the Braves would weave their way through until the end to secure the three-set win by a 7-5, 4-6, 6-2 count.
The season has concluded for Wellsville, as their 2022 season wraps up with a record of 5-7 overall.
1. Kaden Colt (AVO) def. Matt Bittel (WLSV), 6-2, 5-7, 6-3.
2. Dom Patti (AVO) def. Ryan Carlton (WLSV), 6-2, 5-7, 6-3.
3. Maxwell Mesi (AVO) def. Hua Qui Zhang (WLSV), 6-1, 6-4.
1. Zach Colvin/Michael Montano (AVO) def. Ryan Haggerty/Adam Iantorno (WLSV), 6-0, 6-4.
2. Austin Lattuca/Avery Leonard (AVO) def. Mohamed Ahmed/Keaton Sharpe (WLSV), 7-5, 4-6, 6-2.
Class B4 Quartrfinals
No. 2 Fillmore 4, No. 10 Honeoye 1
HOUGHTON — It was perhaps the toughest test of the season for the undefeated Eagles of Fillmore on Tuesday in their Class B4 Quarterfinal battle at Houghton College. With No. 10 Honeoye in for a visit, the Bulldogs would nearly send the Eagles the distance across all five matches.
But as good as the No. 2 seeds have been all season long, they would endure the challenge that Honeoye would bring to the table, as they scooped up four tough, gritty victories on the court, including a sweep of the doubles department to fuel their trip to the Semifinals with a 4-1 home win.
Aside from the doubles sweep, the Eagles (15-0) sought out a pair of singles wins from their Individual Sectional competitors – Eben Schilke and Carter Sisson, as both fought their way through a first-set tiebreak to declare victory in the next set, taking the straight-set win in come-from-behind fashion.
“Honeoye is probably the best team we’ve faced this year,” said Eagles coach Randy Crouch. “Eben and Carter both were down three games in their first sets, but found their footing and got the wins we needed from our leaders. The story though, is the rest of the team. We got hit by the flu bug this past weekend, and we had to shuffle our lineup around. Both doubles teams really responded and played well together.”
The doubles wins were paced by Isaiah Sisson and Layton Sanasith at first singles, as they too also fought through a first-set tie break to deliver a gritty straight-set win, while Marcus Wolfer and Joe Derck came back after falling behind in the first set with a strong finish battling tooth and nail until the end with a lengthy 4-6, 6-3, 6-4 win.
The Eagles are now off to the Class B4 Semifinal round, which will begin today right back on their home court, as they now host No. 3 Naples for a chance to partake in the Finals. First serve is set for a 5 p.m. start at Houghton College.
1. Eben Schilke (FIL) def. Ethan Le (HON), 7-5, 6-3.
2. Carter Sisson (FIL) def. Ajay Merrick (HON), 7-5, 6-2.
3. Jacob Schaffer (HON) def. Jack Boon (FIL), 6-1, 6-4.
1. Isaiah Sisson/Layton Sanasith (FIL) def. Tre Nguyen/Charlie Sherman (HON), 7-5, 6-2.
2. Marcus Wolfer/Joe Derck (FIL) def. Forrist Sherman/Keaton Cooper (HON), 4-6, 6-3, 6-4.
No. 4 Caledonia-Mumford 5, No. 5 Houghton Academy 0
CALEDONIA — A brilliant season on the tennis court for the Houghton Academy Panthers has officially reached its final chapter on Tuesday, as No. 4 Caledonia-Mumford performed at their highest level to take down the five-seeds to record a massive match sweep, advancing to the Semifinal round with a 5-0 win on their home court.
Four of the five matches that wound up going in the host’s favor all concluded in straight sets, with the last being perhaps the best match of them all at first singles between Houghton Academy’s Alex Fraile and Caledonia-Mumford’s Garret Thompson.
It was a match where it began with Fraile dominating the first set of play with a strong 6-1 victory for the Panthers (9-3-1). But then, the momentum began to shift towards Thompson’s side of the court for the Red Raiders, as he bounced back in a big way, forcing a third set after a dominant second set finish.
To end their match, the two fought back and forth until Thompson came away victorious over Fraile with a 6-4 win to finish off the overall triumph.
Houghton Academy’s season closes up officially, as they end their campaign with a record of 9-3-1 overall.
1. Garret Thompson (C-M) def. Alex Fraile (HA), 1-6, 6-2, 6-4.
2. Oliver Johnson (C-M) def. Caleb Hilshire (HA), 6-1, 6-3.
3. Nathan Doll (C-M) def. Sam Winkens (HA), 6-2, 6-1.
1. Jeremiah Johnson/Alden Hatch (C-M) def. Lucas Matias Rocha/Josh Paschalis (HA), 6-0, 6-1.
2. Michael Gere/Justin Sullivan (C-M) def. Lucy Lu/Jim Patipewe (HA), 6-0, 6-0.