Whatever strength and quality the West Genesee softball team possessed, the only certain thing was that it never could catch up to the dynasty at Cicero-North Syracuse.
Or at least that was the case until Thursday afternoon, when the Wildcats ventured to the Gillette Road complex and, with a combination of tough pitching, strong defense and one big clutch hit, knocked off the Northstars 1-0 in eight innings.
Granted, C-NS had seen six seniors, including Sydney O’Hara (now at Syracuse University), Amy VanHoven, Kelly Corbin and Lindsay Silfer, graduate from last year’s state Class AA title team. But it still had a potent lineup and had just beaten rival Liverpool 10-5 earlier in the week.
Against all this, WG pitcher Morgan Nichols knew she would give up some hits, and did so, as inning by inning the Northstars added to the pressure. All told, C-NS got 11 hits, two each from Khaliyah Flournory, Katie Scott and Jess Callisto.
Every time this happened, though, Nichols bore down and escaped that trouble, partly through four strikeouts in the seven regulation innings, but mostly because WG’s fielders did not make any mistakes at crucial moments, keeping the game 0-0 through regulation.
As they started the top of the eighth, WG had mostly proven silent at the plate against O’Hara’s successor, Meg Tully, who was on her way to 14 strikeouts. Only Jenna Amidon, with two hits, had found any consistent success.
But then Sierra Smith reached base, setting things up for Allie Nave, who crushed a double that allowed Smith to race all the way around the bases and score the game’s first – and only – run.
Despite this, Nichols had to sweat out the bottom of the eighth as C-NS got the tying run to second base. A pop fly and two groundouts later, the Wildcats had a landmark win.
Before all this, WG, who had not yet played a home game due to all the weather woes, rallied past Central Square 8-2 on M onday, trailing 2-1 when, in the top of the fifth, it batted around and got seven runs off Red Hawks pitcher Kelsey Morgan, which proved decisive.
Trish Andrews led the Wildcats’ attack with three hits as Marisa Joyce managed a double and RBI. Joyce also pitched quite well, blanking Central Square after the fifth inning and getting three strikeouts to overcome six hits from the Red Hawks.