By JOHN ANDERSON and CHRIS BROOKS
FILLMORE — Leadership.
It comes from your seniors, no matter what the sport.
But sometimes, an underclassmen has to step and and be the voice in a championship game.
For the Friendship-Scio softball team in the Section V Class D finals, it was a sophomore, as Nevaeh Ross talked to the troops tied 1-1 going into their extra innings against No. 1 Honeoye on Saturday.
Friendship-Scio exploded for three runs and Ross did the job in the circle in the bottom of the eigith as the team won a second-straight Section V title, 4-2.
However, this was the first year for Friendship merged with Scio in sports to win the title. Ross said the history of the Scio softball program coupled with hard work from all players was the difference.
“It’s the result of hard work. Everybody put in the extra hours this season,” said Ross after enjoying victory fire truck rides in Friendship and Scio. “It was very fun with the Scio players and their community, there were more supporters and it was very enjoyable. It just adds to the team.”
As for the game, the two-time MVP said, “I was telling everyone we have to bring it back, we can’t wait until the last second. It was amazing. If I could do my job for them, they could do their job for me. It was challenging at moments, I just knew I had to hold my head up, keep my composure and I would be alight.”
Friendship/Scio was the last team to score in regulation, scoring the game-tying run on special teams to force extra innings against Honeoye. Fortunately for the No. 2 seeds, just the one run is all they would need.
They have Claire Calhoun and Kendra Gleason to give their many thanks for, as they came together to record two phenomenal hits, with Gleason’s planting the existential dagger into Honeoye, driving in a pair on her double to the outfield to give Friendship/Scio the room they needed to come out on top as back-to-back Champions once again with a 4-2 win over the Bulldogs.
“I’m so proud of the girls. This was another tough game. Just like in previous games, we never gave up. The girls always picked each other back up when there was an error. They all stayed tough, and they came together to win this game,” Friendship/Scio coach Deb Kane said. “They never gave up. We didn’t hit the ball like we should’ve, but we had some key hits. And then Nevaeh (Ross) kept the girls up, and showed tremendous leadership to help get this win.”
To complete the Allegany County Trifecta as Wellsville and Bolivar-Richburg had already won titles, Friendship/Scio (16-4) would have dig and claw their way through a defensively-favored battle with Honeoye across all eight innings of play. A battle where offense was going to be rare to find.
But when it was able to be found, it can prove that it can be devastating. For Honeoye, they grabbed the early 1-0 lead back in the bottom of the third with an RBI double from the bat of Sydney Pulver to get their engines off and running.
The lead was held all the way until the top of the sixth. After five straight shutout innings tossed by Alexis Johnson for Honeoye, Friendship/Scio was able to find an opening in the Lady Bulldogs defense on special teams, as Nevaeh Ross came around on a steal home, scoring on a passed ball to the backstop to tie the game at one each.
The Friendship/Scio ladies would have the final word when it was all said and done, as they went on towards a three-run top half of the eighth, with Claire Calhoun batting in Ross on an RBI single into the outfield which would see them tie the game.
Not long after the scoring gets started for Friendship/Scio, another crack of the bat would soon see an extension to their lead come with it. With two baserunners on already, both would round the bases and score off an Kendra Gleason double to the outfield, garnering enough distance to ice the game one final time, despite letting up just one run to Honeoye in the home half, to capture their second straight Championship.
The No. 2 seeds could not have done it without yet another brilliant and remarkable performance from their now two-time Champion on the hill in Ross, as she struck out 17 Honeoye batters and walked just one.
In the midst of those strikeouts — a season marker, as she officially reached the 300 strikeouts plateau for the year and next up she will go for 800 for her career, as she is at 724.
When asked about winning two titles and just being a sophomore, Ross said, “”It is crazy, it hasn’t sunk in yet.”
Ross and Calhoun would both finish with two hits to pace the offense, while Gleason’s two-run single wrapped up a five-hit evening for Friendship/Scio at the plate.
Friendship/Scio is now off until next weekend after receiving an automatic berth into the Class D Far West Regional, which they now begin to make preparations for before hopping on the bus for another trip back to the same place where they won it all against the Lady Bulldogs — Fillmore, beginning next Friday at 7:30 p.m.
Their opponent will be either Westfield or Ellicottville of Section VI. That game will be played after the Memorial Day weekend at Allegany-Limestone, on Tuesday.
Friendship/Scio 000 001 03 – 4 5 6
Honeoye 001 000 01 – 2 4 0
F/S – Nevaeh Ross (WP) (CG, 17K, BB), and Morghyn Ross.
HON – Alexis Johnson (LP) (CG, 6K, 3BB), and Sydney Pulver.