Friendship-Scio catcher Morghyn Ross shows the historic final out ball to the huge crowd in Fillmore after the team won the Far West Regionals. They are two wins from a state title. Char Stone photo.
By CHRIS BROOKS, sports editor, wellsvillesports.com @iambrooksie
FILLMORE — Winning a Section V Championship is one small step. A chance to bring home a New York State title is one giant leap for all eternity. Friday night was an opportunity for the Friendship/Scio softball squad to take that giant leap into unknown territory that awaited discovery
A season-ending trip to New York City was on the line on Friday, for one of two softball teams who will have that chance to punch their tickets to the biggest dance of the year. It would come against another formidable foe that the Section V, Class D victors would take down the homestretch.
A game that reminded them what they are fighting for — Glory.
After withstanding their balance during what was the high-wire act of the season in the Class D Finals last week, a similar situation unfolded this time around with Section VI champion Westfield, in Fillmore for the Far West Regional. Both Friendship/Scio’s Nevaeh Ross and Westfield’s Haleigh Dellow went pitch-for-pitch, dealing magnificent stands of defense along the way.
But then, the engines began firing. Nevaeh and Morghyn Ross provided the spark plug.
After two innings of scoreless softball, Friendship/Scio ignited their bats in their third term of offense, as the Ross siblings accounted for the only cracks in the ice between the two foes, breaking through on two huge RBIs before adding to it in the later stages of the battle.
That would help them garner all the room they needed to stay out in front while Nevaeh shut down shop from inside the circle with another spectacular outing, propelling the Section V Champs towards Long Island for the first time ever in a 4-0 shutout of Westfield to become the Queens of the Far West.
“Nevaeh had an excellent game, she kept Westfield on their feet all game. They were able to get some runners on base, and it made the game interesting at times,” said Friendship/Scio coach Deb Kane. “But with 16 strikeouts, Nevaeh does what she’s been able to do on a nightly basis for us, and that’s battle. She kept them from crossing the plate no matter how much pressure they were able to put on us.”
The first two innings between both Friendship/Scio (17-4) and Westfield would go by in a flash before some danger was avoided by the team in white and purple, with two runners reaching for the Lady Wolverines. But, as Ross as successfully done all season long, she kept Westfield on their feet with back-to-back strikeouts to leave both runners on base.
That would provide a surge of momentum back the other way in the bottom of the third inning.
After Keely Sisson led off the inning with a single for Friendship/Scio, Nevaeh Ross would bat her in off a groundball into the infield which saw Sisson score from third along the way off the fielder’s choice to help break the ice. Nevaeh would score a short time later to provide an extension onto the lead herself, with Morghyn Ross scoring her on error off a hard hit ball.
Perhaps Westfield’s biggest chance to record some damage against Friendship/Scio came in the top of the fifth, loading the bases up after the lead-off at-bat. But the Lady Wolverines swung at the opportunity, and missed after Ross provided her 13th of her 16 total strikeouts in the game, to close out the stand in the field.
In turn, that would allow Friendship/Scio to tack on more insurance down the line. In the home half of the same inning, two more runs would come across. After Claire Calhoun and Morghyn Ross both reached base, the team would start playing a bit of small ball with the Westfield defense, as Kendra Gleason and Katherine Lamberson both put down back-to-back sacrifice bunts to get the runs to scratch across successfully, extending their advantage exponentially to four.
“These ladies wanted to go to the next level, and they absolutely proved it tonight,” Kane said. “We did lay down some bunts that really helped on offense. We had a couple of hits and a couple of sacrifices along the way. Even though it was 4-0, it was still a dogfight until the end, and a pitcher’s duel between Nevaeh and their pitcher. For everything to turn out the way it did, it is such an accomplishment for them.”
That would allow Ross to take control of the game from that point on, with her arm, going on to hold Westfield scoreless across the board by putting the finishing touches on the penultimate trip to the Big Apple, next weekend for her squad — a first in program history.
Ross would go on to hold Westfield to five hits across her 16-strikeout, four-walk evening under the lights for Friendship/Scio. The team would collect just four hits in all, but when they were collected, they played a pivotal role in the Section V Champs from deciding the game, with Ross, Calhoun, Gleason and Sisson all having the hits.
Friendship/Scio’s season will end at the Moriches Athletic Complex in Long Island beginning next weekend in a State Final Four battle, where they will face either Section IV’s Deposit/Hancock, or Eldred of Section IX. First pitch is set for an 11:15 a.m. start next Saturday morning.
As for the team itself, Kane is beyond elated that her team will have a chance to play for it all.
“The girls gathered around in a huddle after the game with us, and we asked them how bad they wanted it,” she said. “They answered with every inning. We said at the beginning of the season that we have to take things one game at a time, one inning at a time. I am so proud that these girls battled every time that we needed it. To go to the next step is such an accomplishment for our small towns in Friendship, and Scio. These ladies have earned every bit of it.”
Wellsville could become the second Allegany County softball team to join Friendship/Scio and punch their tickets to the State Final Four. That will be decided today in Grand Island, where they face the Depew Lady Wildcats — the Section VI, Class B Champions in a 2:30 p.m. first pitch to determine who will represent the Far West in the City That Never Sleeps.
Westfield 000 000 0 — 0 5 1
Friendship/Scio 002 020 X – 4 4 3
WF – Haleigh Dellow (LP) (CG, 8K, 2BB), and Sydney Hotchkiss.
F/S – Nevaeh Ross (WP) (CG, 16K, 4BB), and Morghyn Ross.
Enjoy these photos by Char Stone, who has provided images of teams in Allegany County for years: