Marcellus, Westhill move ahead in softball playoffs

Half the local entries that began the Section III Class B softball playoffs are still going - one that is expected, the other not as much.

Marcellus, the no. 11 seed, provided the surprise in Thursday's opening round when it went to no. 6 seed Phoenix and, avenging two previous one-sided losses, delivered a 6-4 victory over the Firebirds.

Meanwhile, Westhill, the no. 2 seed, fought past no. 15 seed Jordan-Elbridge 6-2, as Solvay, the no. 12 seed, saw its season end with a 5-0 loss to no. 5 seed South Jefferson.

The odds appeared long for Marcellus. After all, Phoenix had beaten them by lopsided margins in both their regular-season meetings - 16-1 on April 26, then 10-1 on May 17.

Motivated in multiple ways, the Mustangs stayed patient, even after the Firebirds went ahead 3-1 after three innings.

Marcellus began the comeback with a run in the fourth inning, then struck its big blow with three runs in the top of the fifth off Phoenix ace Brittany Sears.

Jenna Rodolico had two hits, as she and Jessie Manahan earned two RBIs apiece. Tabby McBride scored a pair of runs as Molly MacLachlan and Becca Ryan each had one RBI.

In the pitcher's circle, MacLachlan improved as the game went on, preventing a Phoenix comeback by limiting them to six hits and one walk while striking out four.

Meanwhile, Westhill, in pursuit of its second sectional title in three years, had a ready answer when upset-minded J-E got two runs off ace Toni Secreti in the top of the third inning on Liz Caspari's single.

That deficit vanished as the Warriors nearly batted around in the bottom of the third, hitting Jenn Gasparek for five runs, plus a run in the fourth.

Five different Warriors - Courtney Morgan, Kelly Mascari, Andi Golembiewski, Erica LoBello and Mary Bailey - drove in runs, with Bailey, Mascari and Mackenzie Davis each earning a pair of hits. Secreti allowed five hits and four walks, but more than made up for it by striking out 14.

Solvay never could get on the board at South Jefferson as Spartans slugger Jena LaLone got to Gabrielle Nurod for three of her team's five hits.

In Saturday's quarterfinals, Westhill hosts no. 7 seed Adirondack, while Marcellus tries for another upset against no. 3 seed Cazenovia - who, like Phoenix, had beat the Mustangs twice in the regular season.

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