Jun 07, 2008 Phil Blackwell Uncategorized
While Westhill High School has basked in many athletic accomplishments, it had never won a softball championship prior to last week’s activity.
And when it finally happened last Wednesday, in the form of a 4-0 shutout of Marcellus at the Gillette Road complex in North Syracuse, the Warriors were far from satisfied.
That determination showed itself, in full bloom, in Saturday’s overall Class B final against Canastota, also at Gillette. Two outs from defeat, Westhill came back and stunned the Raiders by a score of 6-5.
“It means that our hard work and dedication paid off,” said Brittany Kaiser, who had two big hits during the game. “I’m so proud to be a part of it.”
Head coach Gary Griffo said his team’s first sectional title means as much to future Westhill squads as it does to this one.
“It lays down a foundation for our program,” he said.
Three different times during the playoffs, Westhill had pulled out wins in its last at-bat, doing so to beat Jordan-Elbridge 6-5 in the B-1 quarterfinals and top Cazenovia 1-0 in the B-1 semifinal round.
Against Canastota, the situation was far different, in that the Raiders appeared to have the game in hand, up 5-3 and having just recorded the first out of the top of the seventh inning on Jessica Patterelli’s diving catch in foul ground.
But the next two Westhill batters hit ground balls that Canastota infielders flubbed. This loaded the bases for Kaiser, who already had a solo home run on the day. Here, Kaiser smacked a single up the middle, and two runs came home to tie it at 5-5.
“You can advance with skill, but a little luck helps,” said Griffo.
Two batters later, and with two outs and a runner on second, Courtney Morgan hit a slow roller to pitcher Liz McGinley. When McGinley threw to first base too late, the go-ahead run raced home. Secreti went 1-2-3 in the bottom of the seventh to seal it.
“We didn’t want to lose and we didn’t want to leave,” said Kaiser.
In many ways, Kaiser led the Warriors back — twice. Canastota had tagged Secreti for three runs in the bottom of the first inning, but Kaiser, in the top of the second, sparked a comeback with a solo home run over the left-field fence.
“I just wanted to make contact and get on base,” she said, adding that she didn’t realize it was a home run until she was heading for second.
A series of hits and mistakes from the Raiders led to two more Westhill runs in that frame and a 3-3 tie, one that held up for a while as both Secreti (who finished with 12 strikeouts) and Canastota hurler Liz McGinley settled down.
It was still 3-3 when, in the bottom of the fifth, Canastota reclaimed the lead as Jessica Patterelli singled, stole two bases, and raced home on McGinley’s second RBI single of the day.
That, combined with Jessica Denova’s sixth-inning triple and run scored, put the Warriors down 5-3 — something it would make up with dramatic flair at the end.
Officially, the milestone came last Wednesday, at the Gillette Road complex, where the Warriors nearly got perfection from Secreti in the course of a 4-0 victory over Marcellus in the Class B-1 title game.
They had met twice in the regular season, the Warriors beating the Mustangs both times, and Westhill knew that Marcellus pitcher Gina Cardarelli possessed a durable and tough arm.
Thus, Westhill stayed patient through the first two innings, then struck in the bottom of the third with a pair of runs. Two more runs came in the bottom of the fifth, as Kaiser and Allison Haynes both earned RBI doubles and Secreti also doubled twice.
Meanwhile, Secreti piled up eight strikeouts and retired the first 18 Marcellus batters she faced. In the top of the seventh, two more outs followed, and Secreti was one out from her first perfect game at the varsity level before Kelly Harris singled, the only hit the Mustangs would get.
With the win over Canastota, the Warriors advance to Tuesday’s Class B regional final at the BAGSAI complex near Binghamton — the exact same place where the state final four will be held on Saturday.