Let the playoff games begin

Hannah Cybart pitches Fredonia to 12-1 win

No. 2 Fredonia’s Hannah Cybart delivers a pitch during the Lady Hillbillies’ Section VI Class B2 softball playoff victory over No. 10 Wilson.

After a shaky top of the first inning, Fredonia’s Hannah Cybart settled into the circle and the No. 2 Lady Hillbillies’ (15-0) bats went to work, as they dispatched the No. 10 Wilson Lakewomen, 12-1, in a Section VI Class B2 softball quarterfinal Thursday afternoon at Fredonia High School.

Wilson’s Jen Darlak led the game off with a double and moved to third on a sacrifice bunt by Maddy Mocarski. However, with the game’s first run at third base, Cybart bore down and retired Alex Seeley and Anna Frerichs on strikes to get out of trouble.

“That double in the first inning, Hannah got (the pitch) up and the girls put a good swing on it,” Fredonia co-head coach Joe Pucciarelli said. “But she calmed down, didn’t allow any runs and we just went from there.”

The Lady Hillbillies used that momentum in the home half of the first, as MeKenna Leid had a two-out RBI double while Sydney Bigelow followed with a run-scoring single for a 2-0 lead.

“We’ve been swinging the bats pretty good the last five or six games,” Pucciarelli said. “They’re really starting to hit the ball on a line, but (scoring first) is always good for their confidence. The younger players see the older players swing the bats and it becomes contagious.”

Cybart allowed a one-out single to Katie Johnston and a walk to Sam Ellis, but Johnston was thrown out at third as the front end of a double-steal attempt, before Izzy Schultz grounded out to end the frame and any chance of the Lakewomen getting on the board.

“I say this every time, she has so much experience,” Pucciarelli said of Cybart. “She’s pitched maybe 50 varsity games and she handles everything. She never gets rattled and she handles everything the way a pitcher should handle it.”

From there, it was all Fredonia, as the home team scored a run in the second, five more in the fourth and four in the fifth to give it the 12-1 final.

“I think it was basically small ball, too,” Pucciarelli said. “I don’t think we had too many extra-base hits. We had a lot of singles that led to the runs, which is good. And it was nice (Thursday), too, that I think everyone got an at-bat, which will help prepare them for next week and we’ll go from there.”

Cybart helped own cause with a sacrifice fly for the Lady Hillbillies’ run in the second, before she added a two-out, two-run single as part of Fredonia’s five-run fourth. Kazlin Beers chipped in a run-scoring single in the fourth while Leid added a two-run single in the frame.

“MeKenna played well in the field and at the plate,” Pucciarelli said. “She had a good all-around game.”

The five two-out runs were just over half of the nine they scored Thursday against the Lakewomen, as they routinely got to starter Kira Zappy, who allowed all 12 runs on 13 hits. She struck out four and walked five while Cybart finished allowing a run on six hits, with 11 strike outs, two walks and one hit batter.

“That’s huge,” Pucciarelli said of the nine two-out runs the Lady Hillbillies scored Thursday afternoon. “It’s huge because it’s infectious. The first one gets a hit with two outs and then the next one gets a hit. It’s like passing a baton.

“Everybody played great defense,” Pucciarelli added. “And that’s huge. We call that ‘Fredonia softball.’ We field the ball and we’re not going to give you extra outs. If you give the other team extra outs, bad things are going to happen, but if you make the routine plays, you’re going to be in good shape at the end of the game.”

At the dish for the Lady Hillbillies, Leid was 3 for 4 with four RBIs, Cassie Essek was 2 for 4, Cybart added three RBIs.

“It’s one game at a time,” Pucciarelli noted of his team’s motto. “These seniors, a lot of them have been on the team for four or five years, so they know it’s one game at a time and we go from there.”

That one game will be next Tuesday at 4:45 p.m. when they host No. 3 Medina, which was a 5-4 winner over No. 6 Southwestern on Thursday in 10 innings.

“All I’ve heard is they have a left-handed pitcher,” Pucciarelli said of Medina. “And that they play in a competitive league up there with Roy-Hart and Akron. But I’m glad that we’re playing it at home, because that’s going to be a big advantage.”