By CHRIS BROOKS, sports editor, wellsvillesports.com @iambrooksie
SCIO — Avoca/Prattsburgh and Friendship/Scio have started to become familiar with one another over the course of the past year.
It began with a meeting in last year’s Class D2 Semifinals where the Lady Golden Eagles were able to survive a small-ball battle to squeeze their way into the Finals, where they would eventually come away as Champions for the first time in nearly three decades.
The next time? More recently – two weeks ago in Avoca, when Avoca/Prattsburgh repaid the favor with a 6-2 victory in a game that Friendship/Scio coach Deb Kane would like to have back again. But to make sure a similar scenario didn’t pan out once more, the girls simply went back to the basics.
Putting softball on the top of their minds.
“We went over there to play them, and we were flat,” said Kane. “When they got off the bus, and during the warm-ups, we were flat. We came in early today and did some extra hitting of the tees, and some other drillers to really get our minds going again. We were here at 3:30 to make sure they were thinking softball. That was a big part of it.”
The extra early preparation would prove to be useful for Friendship/Scio against Avoca/Prattsburgh for the final time this season in the Class D Quarterfinal round on Tuesday in what turned out to be another small-ball battle.
Only this time around, perhaps the strongest Sectional debut was recorded by Nevaeh Ross through the thick of the action.
One that was the definition of dominant in every sense of the word.
The Friendship/Scio sophomore was firing gas all game long, freezing the seventh-seeded Lady Titans at the plate completely by allowing just a single baserunner to reach off a walk. The rest of the outs? – All covered by the defense, with 16 of them coming by way of the phenom’s arm, as she put a bow on a marvelous and overwhelming no-hit performance to get the defending Sectional champions off on the right foot with a 6-0 victory on Tuesday in Scio.
“She’s the key to the team. Her and her sister Morghyn (Ross),” Kane said. “They have been the main reason as to why we’ve been so successful over these past couple of years. We had to make sure the defense was on their feet all game, and for them to deliver a win like this was huge. After being beaten by them over the road, they felt snake-bitten at first. You could tell they were nervous given the situation of the game, but this ended up being a great game for them to be a part of.”
Friendship/Scio (14-4) had to play another round of small-ball with Avoca/Prattsburgh to get the job done once and for all, recording just three hits in all at the plate while Ross dished out one of the more dominant performances she has had all season long for the No. 2 seeds.
It would begin right away in the first inning when Claire Calhoun provided a pair of RBI bunts, with the first coming after a lead-off single by Ross, scoring her on the next at-bat through some heads-up baserunning from third to open the door towards a 1-0 lead for the hosts in white and purple.
Both pitchers would deal a scoreless inning in the second before Friendship/Scio went back to work again in the third inning, starting one of two straight bases-loaded opportunities on offense. The team would score a run each time off bases-loaded walks issued to Jaedyn Shields, but the Avoca/Prattsburgh defense held their end of the bargain by leaving all of the bags occupied to end the inning.
A potentially devastating crisis avoided by the Lady Titans.
But the damage would soon escalate a tad higher for Friendship/Scio, as Morghyn Ross delivered what was deemed as the team’s biggest hit of the evening – an RBI double that hit directly off the center field fencing to score Nevaeh from second, trading spots with her in the process to branch out the Friendship/Scio lead to five.
On the other side, the offense for the No. 7 seeds could not find its rhythm despite their lone baserunner in Riley Stowe reaching on the lone walk issued by Ross the entire game, ultimately making her way towards second base to get caught in a pickle between second and third not once, but twice.
Stowe would be declared safe both times, but on the next at-bat with two outs, she would be left on by Ross after delivering an inning-ending strikeout.
That would give one final burst of energy for the hosts to finish out their immaculate performance on both sides with a run coming in to score in the sixth on a steal home before Ross sealed the victory with her arm, striking out the last batter to complete a no-no for the defending Sectional Champions to begin their trek back to the Finals on the right foot.
Ross’ opposing counterpart, Avoca/Prattsburgh’s Annabella Putnam provided a solid showing from within the circle herself, fanning 13 in her tossed three-hitter.
Friendship/Scio now prepares for a Class D Semifinal meeting against No. 3 C.G. Finney beginning on Thursday back in Scio in a 5 p.m. first pitch, with the stakes on reaching the Finals this weekend continuing to rise.
The winner will face either No. 4 Fillmore or No. 1 Honeoye.
Avoca/Prattsburgh 000 000 0 – 0 0 4
Friendship/Scio 101 211 X – 6 3 0
A/P – Annabella Putnam (LP) (CG, 13K, 9BB), and Riley Stowe.
F/S – Nevaeh Ross (WP) (CG, 16K, BB), and Morghyn Ross.
NO. 11 ARKPORT/CANESERAGA (4-12) 6
NO. 3 C.G. FINNEY (12-8) 12
Junior Amilia Pilecki hurled a complete and went 3-for-4 at the plate with a triple and a home run to lead Finney. Ninth grader Robyn Pilecki also finished 3-for-4. Eighth grader Haley Walters was 2-for-2 with a double. Finney advances to play No. 2 Scio/Friendship in the semifinals.
NO. 9 CUBA-RUSHFORD (6-12) 4
NO. 1 OAKFIELD-ALABAMA (14-4) 12
NO. 7 CAMPBELL-SAVONA (5-9) 0
NO. 2 PEMBROKE (10-6) 1
NO. 6 PAVILION (7-12) 1
NO. 3 KENDALL (11-8) 17
NO. 5 SOUTH SENECA/ROMULUS (9-8) 13
NO. 4 LYONS (9-9) 10
NO. 8 NOTRE DAME-BATAVIA (10-7) 2
NO. 1 LYNDONVILLE (19-0) 7
NO. 7 BYRON-BERGEN (11-7) 0
NO. 2 KESHEQUA (18-2) 13
NO. 6 HAC (11-7) 0
NO. 3 BOLIVAR-RICHBURG (18-1) 7
NO. 5 DUNDEE/BRADFORD (14-5) 12
NO. 4 CALEDONIA-MUMFORD (13-6) 10
Dundee/Bradford jumped to a 7-1 lead before needing to rally with five runs in the seventh inning to erase a two-run deficit. Kailey Yeoman finished 3-for-5 at the plate and scored three runs. Abby Miller doubled twice. Morgan Sutryk went 2-for-4 with a triple. Mikayla Schoffner was 2-for-4 while Madison Sutryk added two RBI. Maddy DeVore led Cal-Mum going 4-for-5 with three RBI. Montgomery Kessler went 2-for-4. Sawyer Richardson was 2-for-2 with three RBI while Madison Wyskiel had two singles in four at-bats. Dundee/Bradford will face top-seeded Lyndonville in the semis.