May 29, 2014 Phil Blackwell Uncategorized
Unlike so many others in seasons past, the West Genesee softball team entered last Wednesday night’s Section III Class AA semifinal against Cicero-North Syracuse at the Gillette Road complex with the confidence gained from beating the defending state champions in the regular season.
And that lead to a brave, resilient effort from the against the reigning state champions, with Morgan Nichols turning in one of her best pitching performances – but the no. 6 seed Wildcats still lost, 1-0, to the no. 2 seed Northstars, the same margin by which WG prevailed over C-NS back on April 17.
It didn’t take long for the spotlight to shine on the pair of pitchers in this game, as Nichols squared off against C-NS ace Megan Tully, and neither would blink much.
In the top of the first, Nichols managed to rip a single, but Tully would strike out the side, just as she did in the second inning. By the third, she had eight strikeouts, but the game was still 0-0.
That was because Nichols and her fellow defenders made all of the early plays to keep C-NS off the board, including a rare 1-6-3 double play in the second to snuff out one rally.
Only in the third did the Wildcats bend a bit. Jess Callisto drew a walk, moved over to third base on an error, and then scored when Khaliyah Flournory grounded out.
All through the rest of the game, C-NS would get runners on base, and every time Nichols stranded them, earning a complete game where she did not walk a batter, limited the Northstars to three hits and struck out three.
Without a hit, WG managed to get two runners on base in both the fifth and sixth innings, only to be thwarted. Tully finished her one-hit gem with her 12th strikeout of the evening as C-NS advance to face top seed Liverpool in Monday’s sectional final.
The Wildcats earned its latest shot at C-NS six days earlier, on May 22, when it played the Class AA quarterfinal at no. 3 seed Rome Free Academy and, with a tremendous all-around effort, shut out the Black Knights 5-0 in a game shortened to five innings by rain.
All of WG’s runs came in the first two innings, as it quickly got to work on RFA pitcher Alicia Swavely. In particular, Nichols proved impossible to contain, as her pair of hits led to three RBIs, with Alli Nave scoring twice as she and Tess Andrews got two hits apiece.
Having helped her own cause so much, Nichols proceeded to silence the Black Knights’ hitters, holding them to five hits and earning five strikeouts before weather shortened the contest.