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.