Westhill survives J-E, Caz in softball playoffs

If it got just a few more outs last Thursday afternoon, the Jordan-Elbridge softball team would short-circuit top seed Westhill's dreams of a first-ever Section III Class B-1 title.

However, the Warriors stared at elimination and did not blink, coming up with the runs it needed to pull out a 6-5 victory over the no. 8 seed Eagles.

And that proved to be just the first half of a tense pair of playoff contests where, in both instances, the Warriors had to win in its last at-bat.

J-E was familiar with Westhill from two regular-season meetings in the OHSL Liberty division and got to pitching ace Toni Secreti for two runs in the first inning.

Westhill answered those runs in the bottom of the first to tie it, then sneaked across runs in the third and fourth innings to seize a 4-2 edge.

Despite compiling 16 strikeouts, Secreti could not put J-E away -- and in the top of the sixth, the Eagles struck for three runs, seizing a 5-4 lead and giving Gasparek a chance to pull off one of the season's biggest surprises.

Yet Westhill would have the last word in the seventh inning. Katie Hartnett's single brought pinch-runner Chelsea Trichilo home to tie it 5-5, and when Emily Mangicaro singled home Hartnett, the Warriors moved on.

Catcher Brittany Kaiser produced a pair of early RBIs for Westhill as Allison Haynes and Kaley Arsenault also drove in runs. J-E teammates Sarah Fordyce and Liz Caspari each had two RBIs in J-E's valiant effort.

Difficult as that was, the Warriors found another major hurdle in Saturday's B-1 semifinal against no. 4 seed Cazenovia before pulling out a 1-0 decision over the Lakers.

Here, no comeback was required -- just a lot of perseverance as Cazenovia's pitching ace, Katie McLean, locked into a memorable duel with Secreti.

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