Lady Cougars survive tough test from Brocton

SINCLAIRVILLE — After the Cassadaga Valley Lady Cougars softball team was up 8-1 in the third inning, the Brocton Lady Bulldogs were able to bring the tying run up to the plate in the seventh inning. But Brittyn LeBaron was able to end the threat with a strikeout while a runner was on second base to preserve a thrilling 8-6 win for the Lady Cougars in CCAA West 2 action on Monday night.

Brocton (1-2, 3-3) was able to strike first in the first inning. Jenelle Grigelevich led off with a hard-hit single. After a sacrifice bunt by Analiese Wdowiasz brought Grigelevich to second, she was able to score after two wild pitches. Cassadaga Valley hit the ball well in the first, but was unable to score a run due to quality defense where Brocton was able to throw out a runner at home plate to end the inning.

Cassadaga Valley (1-0, 4-0) continued with their strong hitting and were successful at bringing their base runners around in the second inning. After two free passes and a bunt single by Bella Ruiz where no fielders covered first base, LeBaron came through with a two-run single. Ruiz later scored on an error.

The Lady Cougars continued their success in the third as they erupted for five runs. Hannah Edwards began the rally with a walk before Savannah Nickerson hit a single. Ruiz reached on an error where two more runs crossed the plate. LeBaron then hit another two run single up the middle like she did in the previous inning.

“Brittyn came through with some timely hitting,” said Cassadaga Valley coach Ken Balling. “The girls in front of her did a good job to get on in those innings to allow her that clutch hit to happen.”

Mikaela Rearick followed with an RBI single to give the Cougars an 8-1 lead. Then, Brocton coach Julie Arnold called timeout to regroup the girls as they were able to limit Cassadaga Valley to two more hits after that point.

“We regrouped after their rally,” said Arnold. “It goes to show the character and work ethic that we have as we remained mentally tough and made those adjustments.”

Brocton was able to chip away at the lead gradually in the back half of the game. In the fourth inning, Megan Gloss blasted a double with Jennifer Potter hitting a sacrifice fly to bring her home. Brocton came through with two more runs in the sixth. Grigelevich led off with a triple followed with Wdowiasz hitting an RBI ground ball to score Grigelevich. Juli Smith was up next and hit a hard hit single, but an error allowed her to advance to third base. Elise Miller was able to bring her in on a ground ball to first base.

“We were able to string some hits together,” said Arnold. “This goes to show the work that we put in. We were able to adjust to her pitches and had smarter at bats where we began to make some solid contact.”

Brocton was able to continue their threat in the seventh as the first three batters got hits to the outfield. Wdowiasz began with a single with Smith hitting her home with an RBI double before Gloss hit an RBI single. With one out and a runner on second, a long fly ball was caught by the outfield before the last batter struck out to end the game.

“You have to give credit to them,” said Balling. “They never quit. They continued to battle to the very end. It goes to show how well they compete and how they are well coached to compete at that level. Unfortunately we had a few mental lapses towards the end and had a real struggle to close it out.”

LeBaron pitched the complete game for the Cougars, giving up six runs on nine hits while striking out five. “She was a little rusty today,” Balling added. “She is a great pitcher and capable of more so she will regroup. She did a great job in South Carolina leading us to the tournament title. This was the first day that we were outside in New York State so I expect her to make the necessary changes to be successful.”

Gloss pitched great in defeat as she gave up nine hits and three walks while striking out six.

The Lady Cougars were led offensively by LeBaron’s two singles and four RBIs. Rearick and Ruiz also had a multi-hit game. Edwards came through with a double while Jewelee Schauman and Nickerson each had a single.

Grigelevich, Smith and Gloss each had two hits for the Bulldogs with Gloss and Smith having a double.

“It was a great game today,” said Arnold. “I am pleased with the effort and the character that we developed. We needed the leadership and building on that is something positive to take from the game.”

The teams return to CCAA West 2 play Wednesday, when Cassadaga Valley goes to Clymer and Brocton hosts Sherman.