BARKER - The No. 10 Cassadaga Valley Lady Cougars' season came to a close Thursday following a 3-2 loss in nine innings at the hands of No. 7 Barker in Section 6 Class C high school softball prequarterfinal action.
"We had 45 minutes of total outdoor practice time this season," Cassadaga Valley coach Ken Balling said, trying to sum up the season. "It wasn't the most fun season I've had. We played our entire season in the last two weeks."
Trailing 2-0, the Lady Cougars battled back with a run in the fifth inning and another in the seventh to send the game into extra innings.
The fifth-inning run came as Lexi Ruiz reached on a single and scored off a Kylee Braymiller RBI single.
Cassadaga Valley tied the game in the seventh as Ruiz led off with a walk and scored on a shallow sacrifice fly ball from Braymiller. Ruiz was able to slide under the tag and touch home plate for the equalizer.
"She scored both runs and is a tremendous asset," Balling said of Ruiz and her speed.
Alyssa Hahn was the losing pitcher, despite pitching a gem. She gave up just four hits while striking out 14. She escaped a jam in the bottom of the seventh inning as Barker put runners on second and third with no outs. From there, Hahn struck out the heart of Baker's lineup order to keep the game tied.
"The way we played (Thursday), it shows they came a long ways," Balling said. "We knew we would struggle. The girls showed improvement all season and (Thursday) they really put their hearts into it. The girls played a whale of a game when they easily could have collapsed."
Along with freshmen Ruiz and Hahn, Balling is excited for the future of his team as several underclassmen played valuable time this season on the varsity level.
"Jewlee Schauman made a couple dynamite plays that kept us in the game," Balling noted. "We are looking for great things from her. Jenna Caskey did some pitching this season as well. We have young kids coming and a successful jayvee team and we will move forward."