Nicole Chiarello and Taylor Malmsheimer were the main figures in one of the biggest victories in the history of the Cazenovia softball program.
The no. 3 seed Lakers took out no. 2 seed Westhill 5-0 in Wednesday's Section III Class B semifinal at the Gillette Road complex in Cicero.
With that win, the Lakers get a shot at the Class B title Saturday, also at Gillette, when it faces no. 5 seed South Jefferson. The Spartans eliminated top seed Altmar-Parish-Williamstown 4-1 in the other semifinal.
Cazenovia and Westhill shared the OHSL Liberty regular-season championship, having split in the regular season - the Warriors prevailing 12-4 back on April 8, the Lakers claiming the rematch 4-1 on May 6 at Veterans' Park.
Now came the third and most important encounter, which would settle what wasn't decided in the regular season. Going in, Westhill appeared to have a major edge in experience, since its pitching ace, Toni Secreti, had led the Warriors to a sectional title in 2008.
The Lakers had benefited, though, from seeing Secreti twice this season, and more times in the past - and in the first inning on this night, it produced a pair of runs to take a lead it would not relinquish. Malmsheimer bashed an RBI double, then scored on Emily Mastropaolo's double.
Not content with that 2-0 margin, Cazenovia waited until the fifth. Then, with two runners on, Malmsheimer bashed another double, bringing home Kara Stadler and Korena Fenton to make it 4-0. Stadler returned in the sixth and drove home Melanie Arehart with the game's last run.
Malmsheimer added a third hit as Stadler, Fenton and Mastropaolo each got two hits. Overall, the Lakers had 12 hits as Arehart, Abby Eschen and Belle Hoagland joined that hit parade.
Great as they were, Chiarello topped them with her superb effort in the pitcher's circle. Against a high-powered Westhill lineup, Chiarello gave up just three hits, did not walk a batter and finished with eight strikeouts. The entire Lakers' defense sparkled, too, not committing a single error.
Cazenovia and South Jefferson have met before for sectional titles on the basketball court, but this is the first time they have clashed with a softball championship on the line.