SILVER CREEK - Baylee Tarnowski dominated in the circle, the offense came up with timely hits and the Fredonia Lady Hillbillies (6-0, 4-0) cruised to a 6-1 victory over the Gowanda Lady Panthers (8-1) to win the Hae Jude Tournament championship Saturday at Silver Creek Central School.
"I'm just so proud of them," Fredonia coach Joe Pucciarelli said. "We are really hitting the cover off of the ball right now. We are playing good defense for the most part and I can't say enough about Baylee Tarnowski. It was her best game of the year by far and probably her best game in her last 10 starts. She was hitting her spots, popping the glove and did a really nice job."
Tarnowski pitched a complete game, allowing just one run (unearned) and five hits while striking out four. She also didn't walk a single batter as her control was spot on all game.
OBSERVER?Photo by Jeremy Izzio
Fredonia’s Baylee Tarnowski delivers a pitch Saturday against Gowanda, during the championship game of the Hae Jude Tournament, in Silver Creek.
OBSERVER?Photo by Jeremy Izzio
Pictured are members of the Fredonia varsity softball team after it won the Hae Jude Tournament Saturday, at Silver Creek High School.
Fredonia struck first in the bottom of the opening inning when Mekenna Leid scored on an Alicia Deering RBI single. Leid reached base with a leadoff single and was moved into scoring position when Cassie Essek laid down a sacrifice bunt.
With the score sitting at 2-0 entering the bottom of the third, the Lady Hillbillies opened up a commanding lead.
Leid led off the inning with a double followed by another sacrifice bunt by Essek who laid down a picture-perfect sacrifice with two strikes. Gowanda struggled fielding the bunt and eventually overthrew the first baseman allowing Leid to score and Essek to advance to second.
Morgan Genovese launched a triple to the base of the left field fence to score Essek and Tarnowski helped her own cause with an RBI single that scored Genovese for the third run of the inning, giving Fredonia a 5-0 lead.
Fredonia repeatedly played small ball and used the sacrifice bunt to near perfection. Seemingly every time a Lady Hillbilly reached base there was a sacrifice bunt to follow and a well-timed base hit drove home the runners.
"Our motto as coaches is, 'You have to be able to bunt and you have to be able to field the bunt,'" Pucciarelli said. "We really stress that a lot. We had Essek bunt with two strikes on her, and the thing is, you concentrate more (bunting with two strikes). With two strikes you know you have to get it down. She got it down and it led to a big run. It's a big part of our game and it has been successful for us."
Gowanda scored their lone run in the top of the fourth when Rae White's safety squeeze bunt scored Tia Thompson who had reached on an outfield error.
The Lady Panthers threatened multiple times with runners in scoring position, but just when it looked like they had a chance to get back into the game Tarnowski would come up with a big pitch.
Leid's RBI single in the fourth inning brought the score to 6-1 and from there neither team could put together much offense on a day where high winds and cold temperatures affected nearly every aspect of the contest.
"We didn't come through with hits when we needed them," Gowanda coach Darlene Pfaffenbach said. "We left seven runners on base and weren't able to capitalize. We just made errors, threw the ball around and missed plays. It's the little things.
"We've been seeing a lot of slower pitchers and have been crushing the ball," Pfaffenbach added. "We've won 17-0, 13-0, 22-1 and it's a totally different ball game when you come off of that all season and see someone with talent and skill. It's tough to adjust."
Leid finished the game 3-for-3 with a double, an RBI and two runs scored.
Tarnowski added a 2-for-3 day with an RBI and run scored to her pitching performance while Genovese finished 1-for-3 with a triple and an RBI.
Taylor Olson took the loss for Gowanda after going six innings, allowing six runs on nine hits while striking out four and issuing no walks.
Olson had a solid day in the circle, but multiple errors and a red-hot Fredonia offense doomed what otherwise was a good outing.
Thompson was 1-for-3 in the loss with a run scored while White drove in the Lady Panther's lone run.
Fredonia will face Frewsburg at home on Monday for what may turn into a double header with each game being 5 innings.
In other Hae Jude action, the Fredonia Lady Hillbillies jumped all over the host team Silver Creek Black Knights in the semifinal round and advanced to the final with an impressive 18-2 victory Saturday afternoon.
Hannah Cybart earned the win by going four innings, allowing one earned run and three hits while striking out three and walking none.
Lauren Milson finished the five inning contest and gave up one run on one hit.
Allison Harford took the loss for Silver Creek.
Fredonia's offense was led by Mekenna Leid who went 3-for-5 with two RBIs.
Bre Dahn was 2-for-4 with three RBIs while Caitlyn Cybart, Hannah Cybart and Katie Webster each drove in three runs.
Prior to the game, both coaches agreed to make the game count as a league contest due to weather and scheduling conflicts making a future meeting difficult.
Following the loss to Fredonia, the Black Knights pounded out a 13-5 win over the West Valley Lady Panthers.
Darien Spruce earned the win with a 2 2/3 inning performance in which she allowed five runs and five walks while striking out one.
Kennedy Eggleston entered in relief and allowed no hits and one walk with one strikeout. The two combined to allow no hits over the course of the five inning contest.
Kennedy Eggleston also went 2-for-4 with two RBIs at the plate while Maddy Eggleston was 2-for-3 with two RBIs in the win.