By CHRIS BROOKS, sports editor, wellsvillesports.com @iambrooskie
SCIO — The bar has been set for the Friendship/Scio ladies. After what was a near immaculate performance across all phases of the game against No. 7 Avoca/Prattsburgh back on Tuesday, the No. 2 seeds now found themselves one step away from making a return back to the Finals to defend their crown.
The only barrier that remained in their way, was No. 3 C.G. Finney on Thursday.
Like last game, Friendship/Scio would find a similar start to get the ball rolling in the early stages against the Lady Falcons.
But then, the offense began to heat up as time went on, as they continued to add piece after piece to the puzzle while Nevaeh Ross conducted another harmonious symphony from within the circle, holding C.G. Finney to one hit across 15 strikeouts to earn the 9-0 win to send her team back to the Class D Finals.
Friendship/Scio’s (15-4) offense got going as a collective in the opening stages, using baserunning to their fullest advantage with their first two runs before the bats picked up steam in the third behind a two-run frame led by an RBI triple from Katherine Lamberson. On the next at-bat, she would finish off the scoring in the third with a run off Kiara Grover’s infield knock.
With a 4-0 lead in their command, it would grow larger after both teams traded a scoreless fourth inning, as the runs down the stretch were scratched across one after another for the hosts in white and purple, as they collected a four-run fifth inning led by a two-out RBI single from Ross that assisted in branching out their lead permanently.
To follow up her epic pitching performance to begin Sectionals, Ross would provide another in similar stature, holding the Lady Falcons to a single hit behind 15 total chairs being handed out to keep the No. 3 seeds in the rearview mirror for good.
Ross and Lamberson would lead the bats for the home side with two hits each.
Friendship/Scio has now played their final home game of the season, as they now head north up the road to Fillmore to defend their crown, as they prepare to square off with top-seeded Honeoye for this year’s Class D title beginning on Saturday at 5 p.m.
The winner will make their way back to Fillmore one week later to represent Section V itself in the Far West Regional game, taking on either Westfield or Ellicottville.
C.G. Finney 000 000 0 – 0 1 3
Friendship/Scio 112 041 X – 9 6 3
FIN – Amiela Pilecki (LP) (CG, 4K, 4BB), and Robyn Pilecki.
F/S – Nevaeh Ross (WP) (CG, 15K), and Morghyn Ross.
No. 1 Honeoye 14, No. 4 Fillmore 3
HONEOYE — One of the more rare instances that you don’t see a lot of anymore, became an option that was on the table entering the night on Thursday – a host school hosting the Sectional Finals.
It became a very real possibility for the No. 4 Lady Eagles of Fillmore, who looked to do just that over the road one final time by taking on No. 1 Honeoye for a chance to return home and play in their first Sectional Finals since the 2018 season.
But for the Lady Bulldogs, a fast start in their opening at-bats spoiled that opportunity, as they set up shop with an early lead that Fillmore was able to pressure after trailing by as little as two, but nine more runs would come across in the middle innings that allowed them to distance themselves in what was a 14-3 triumph on their home field to claim the final spot in the Class D Finals this weekend.
“Offensively, Honeoye attacks in a lot of ways. Big hits, slap hits, bunts. It is all part of their game,” said Lady Eagles coach Jon Beardsley. “The first four, five innings, I thought we played them very well defensively, and they still scored runs. Our offense sputtered a bit tonight. Their pitcher was crafty, not fast but in command by mixing her pitches really well. We just wound up losing to the better team.”
The Lady Eagles (11-8) were able to get on the board in back-to-back innings after Honeoye started red hot from the gate with a 4-0 lead after the opening frame. Starting in the second with an RBI single into center from Skylar Gaddy, which scored Preslee Miller who led off the inning with a double.
In the third, the deficit would become cut in half with an RBI single from Lizzy Nugent, as she scored Torann Wolfer on her drive into center field to creep closer within reach of the Lady Bulldogs, down 4-2.
After the lead went back out to three, the damage would soon be done by the top seeds. From the fourth inning until the final pitch was thrown, Honeoye would go on to score nine of the game’s last 10 runs to pull themselves away and out of reach of Fillmore, ultimately ending their season.
When it was all said and done, the Lady Eagles collected three runs off five hits. In the circle, Saige Freidl struck out two and walked three in her complete game.
The season is over for Fillmore, as they wrap up the season with an 11-8 record. The Lady Eagles will graduate eight Seniors at the end of the school year in just a matter of weeks. Those being Friedl, Nugent, Wolfer, Zoe Beardsley, Emily Krzeminski, Kaleigh Kinnicutt, Yanely Cristino and Halee Holmes.
Beardsley says that despite the season-ending defeat, he hopes that playing the game of softball gave them an opportunity to have fun.
“I have eight seniors that certainly will be missed. I appreciate everything they have given to the program over the years,” he said. “To the whole team, I am proud of them for improving, fighting through the tough times and enjoying the good. There is a lot of craziness in this work, and I hope playing softball gave them an opportunity to find some joy. They are good people, and fun to coach.”
Joining all eight seniors, is Beardsley himself, as he will officially step away as the softball program’s acting coach after 14 seasons. The future will now lay in the hands of his successor in the year 2023, in assistant coach Desi Lyman, who he says is more than ready for the opportunity to lead a young core.
Beardsley also took time to reflect on his softball coaching career, as it comes to an end.
“I am fortunate to coach some amazing kids, and coach for a great school community. I love coaching any sport, because I love helping kids grow. I’m still going to stay involved with the program, but just in a different role. But Coach Lyman is ready for the opportunity to lead. The past year, I’ve been trying to take a step back here and there with responsibilities, but I don’t feel comfortable with going at half speed. Coaching Softball has always been enjoyable, and I will miss it.”
Fillmore 011 010 0 – 3 5 3
Honeoye 401 333 X – 14 14 1
FIL – Saige Friedl (LP) (CG, 2K, 3BB), and Lizzy Nugent, Kada Frazier (6).
HON – Alexis Johnson (WP) (CG, 8K), and Sydney Pulver.
B-R 5, Keshequa 1
NUNDA – This was perhaps the toughest test of the season for the Lady Wolverines of Bolivar-Richburg.
Finding themselves one step away from making their return to the Finals, all that was left was a road trip to take on one of, if not, Section V’s hottest team – No. 2 Keshequa, winners of 17 straight games after starting their season 1-2.
In more ways than one, Bolivar-Richburg and Keshequa align almost identically to one another. Both teams have proven that they play sound defense, the bats can come alive at any given point and the pitching, yes the pitching, it was a strong display of firepower.
It was a matchup that head coach Brooke Lovell says, the team really had to dial in and focus on.
“Keshequa is a good, well-coached team,” she said. “We knew tonight would be a tough one. They hit the bat well, they play great defense, they run the bases. In practice this week, we prepared for certain situations that we thought may happen.”
In order to have their chance to compete for back-to-back championships, the Lady Wolverines would have to dig in and play a game of small ball with the Lady Indians through much of the opening sequences.
Long enough until they could search and identify some openings to climb through the Keshequa defense with.
As a result, many outfield gaps were sought by the Lady Wolverines, who used those plugs to slowly piece together a breakthrough performance that would happen in the most clutch of times – the inning before last.
Bolivar-Richburg was destined to make some noise.
While the small ball continued to elevate the Lady Wolverines and their game, the bats saw a massive eruption in the sixth inning when McKinlee Harris provided a massive dagger in the shape of a triple to deep right field to give the No. 3 seeds all the room they would need, while the defense came up with a 1-2-3 on the field to end a 5-1 game for Bolivar-Richburg, who will make their grand return to the Finals after snapping Keshequa’s long win streak.
“Getting back to the Finals has been a goal our team has worked hard for since the beginning of the season,” Lovell said. “Everything that we had worked hard on during practice leading up to this game, all paid off. Now, we are really excited to get back on the field to compete for another title on Saturday.”
The defenses would buckle in right from the get-go, as both teams exchanged a pair of quick, scoreless innings. But not long after, some ice would be cracked into by the Lady Wolverines (19-1) with the help of some baserunning around the infield. After Malayna Ayers reached on error by the Lady Indians defense, McKinlee Harris would find her way home to score from third on some excellent baserunning.
Keshequa provided an inning of similar stature themselves to tie the game up, as Mackenzie Gillen’s fielder’s choice went straight for Harris at third, and then a throw home to provide a tag which was deemed not in time to tie the game up at one on each side for much of the game going forward.
Later on in the fifth, the Lady Wolverines took the lead away with assistance from Braelin Bentley, who scored Ayers off her infield grounder right to first base.
While the offense was continuing to search for more ways to make their presence known, Majot provided a defensive response herself by keeping Keshequa frozen at the plate, dishing out multiple quick innings with prowess and efficiency to keep the Lady Indians at a standstill.
Ultimately for the remainder of the game. Why? – A three-run sixth inning soon came into play.
Simply put: The Lady Wolverines were ready to hunt, garnering a big, devastating blow after Kayli Giardini and Haley Mascho both reached base, with Giardini scoring a single up the middle while Mascho’s bunt worked both runners around into scoring position.
Then the biggest of blows came.
With two outs on the board, it would become a clutch, offensive spectacle. McKinlee Harris was at the ready to deliver a brutal blow to Keshequa, scoring a pair of runners on her deep drive into right field, going past the right fielder and to the fences.
“Both teams left their runners stranded at the beginning innings. It was a defensive battle through and through. Finally, we were about to get some runners into position, and McKinlee (Harris) drilled that triple to right field at the most perfect of times to give us some big runs and more room to work with.” said Lovell.
On the next at-bat, their third and final run would come in to score after a collision between both pitcher and catcher off the most fulfilling effort from Madigan Harris, reaching base behind a phenomenal bunt laid down just a few feet in front of the plate on the third base-line.
With one more chance to add to their lead in the top of the seventh being foiled by Keshequa, their chance to return to the Finals this weekend now laid directly into the hands of the defense, led by Majot in the circle, who would go on to record a marvelous outing with one final 1-2-3 of the Lady Indians at the plate, which featured back-to-back strikeouts to send Bolivar-Richburg to the big dance once again.
The Lady Wolverines totaled five runs off 11 total runs at the plate, with four different hitters recording at least a pair to electrify the offense. Among the batters were both Harris sisters, as well as Maddy Thornton and Kayli Giardini.
The win belonged to Majot in the circle, as she held Keshequa’s hot offense to just four hits, striking out seven and walking one to end their 17-game win streak in style with a trip to the Class C3 Finals, which will take place Saturday night at Honeoye Falls-Lima.
Bolivar-Richburg will get set to renew last year’s Finals, as they now get set to take on top-seeded Lyndonville for all of the marbles once again. The Lady Wolverines won last year’s clash by a 9-7 count in thrilling fashion over the Lady Tigers.
Bolivar-Richburg 001 013 0 – 5 11 1
Keshequa 001 000 0 – 1 4 4
B-R – Jessica Majot (WP) (CG, 7K, BB), and Madigan Harris.
KES – Aurora Sabins (LP) (CG, 5K, BB), and Cheyenne Cotton.