After a grueling high school softball season, it was only fitting Friday's Chautauqua County Exceptional Senior All-Star Game at Promenschenkel Field was a night full of laughter for the players.
The fact the North Team beat the South Team, 9-0, was merely an afterthought as the players will remember the bonds formed in the dugout, the dancing between innings and the comedy relief - mainly provided by Cassadaga Valley's Kelcie Brown.
During the eighth inning, Brown channeled her inner Babe Ruth as she called her shot, gesturing she would hit a home run. In the dugout, Brown was leading cheers which had her teammates laughing.
Dunkirk’s Joyce?Bomasuto, left, and Falconer’s Shannon Gunnell, right, were named Most Valuable Players of the North and South Teams respectively Friday at the Chautauqua County Exceptional Senior All-Star Game.
"She is definitely a very exciting girl to be around," North MVP Joyce Bomasuto of Dunkirk said. "She is very hyper all the time."
"She is hilarious," North Team coach Bri Hazelton added. "She lightened the mood and made everyone laugh. I was glad to have her on the team."
Brown also had an RBI single for the winners.
North was led by the dominant pitching of Bomasuto and Forestville's Ryanne Dugan.
Bomasuto pitched four innings as she gave up two hits, struck out five and had six putouts of her own. At the plate, she was 2 for 2 with a walk, a triple, an RBI and two runs scored to earn MVP honors.
"I was shocked," Bomasuto said of earning the honor. "I didn't think I was going to get it. I was glad I did. I worked very hard for it. It was a really great experience. I got to meet a lot of girls."
Dugan was equally impressive in the circle as she struck out 11 in five innings of work and gave up four hits - two in the ninth inning.
"It worked out where we had two wonderful pitchers," Hazelton said. "Ryanne did a great job, considering coming off a hard playoff loss. She looked amazing. I don't get to see Joyce play in the regular season. We never play Dunkirk or watch them. She did a great job and was great at the plate."
Falconer's Shannon Gunnell was named the South Team MVP as she had a single and two stolen bases. She was one of only two South players to reach third base.
"It's an awesome experience," she said. "It was cool to play with everyone from different teams. A lot of girls made bonds. We had fun in the dugout. It's nice to meet new girls."
"She is just a great player," South coach Jon Blanchard said of Gunnell. "She plays with a lot of heart."
While North only had two pitchers on the roster, South used several pitchers, headed by Frewsburg's Sam Mott and Chautauqua Lake's Lauren Cummings.
Mott pitched two innings and struck out five while Cummings pitched two strong innings herself.
"I think this game is about everyone getting a chance to show what they got," Blanchard said. "Both teams did a nice job and I am proud of both of them. We really had a lot of fun. We had a two-hour practice and had a great time. It's fun to get to know a lot of girls like this."
Silver Creek's Amber Hemphill contributed in the win with a two-run double in the fourth inning. Cassadaga Valley's Ashley Carroll had two hits while Kristi Zink (Cassadaga Valley) and Ashley Carpenter (Pine Valley) each had doubles.
For South, the closest they came to scoring was in the ninth inning as Jamestown's McKenzie Martin and Frewsburg's Reyanne Strong had consecutive singles and advanced to scoring position on a passed ball. However, fittingly enough, Dugan struck out the final batter to end the game.
Hazelton noted it was a thrill to be a part of the All-Star game.
"We are in Division 3 and play a lot of small schools," she said. "To watch Jamestown and Southwestern players play is so nice to see. It really shows the talent the area has. I didn't know how it was going to go. From the first day of practice, they were all friendly and welcoming. It was a great group of girls to coach. The county has a lot of great seniors who are graduating and they all did a great job tonight."