Solid all around

Lady Marauders defeat Chautauqua Lake with strong pitching and defense, timely hitting

OBSERVER Photo by Ron Szot Dunkirk’s Kaitlyn Davis slides into third base with a triple, just beating the tag of Chautauqua Lake’s Cianna Braymiller, during Saturday’s high school softball game at Dunkirk High School.

The Dunkirk Lady Marauders (6-2, 3-0) jumped out to a 6-0 lead, then held off a late Chautauqua Lake Lady Thunderbirds charge to win, 6-3, in a CCAA West 1 high school softball game Saturday afternoon behind Dunkirk High School.

Monica Pokoj stymied Chautauqua Lake (2-1, 2-1) most of the game, allowing just one hit in the first six innings. She slowed in the seventh, giving up five straight hits, including a two-run home run by Cameryn Hawkins. But she recovered to strike out the inning’s last two batters to end the game, and was helped by a Kymi Nance throw from the outfield that nabbed a runner at home plate. Pokoj finished with seven strikeouts and a walk in her complete-game victory.

“Monica is definitely showing how much hard work she put in in the offseason,” said Michelle Gilmour, the Dunkirk head coach.

“I knew coming in that this would be a good test of both teams,” Chautauqua Lake head coach Sue Teets said. “(I’m) a little disappointed, I guess, in us coming alive late … we got a late start in terms of hitting. Can’t take anything from Dunkirk, they made the plays when they needed to make them.”

The Lady Thunderbirds’ own star pitcher, Olivia Anderson, didn’t have as smooth a start to her game as Pokoj did. After a 1-2-3 first inning, she ran into trouble in the second frame.

After Nance got hit by a pitch with one out, Pokoj worked the count to 3-2 after going down 0-2, then laced a single into left field. The next batter, Mackenzie Gugino, lined a single just over the glove of leaping Lady Thunderbirds second baseman Katelyn Fardink, scoring Nance. A pitch in the dirt moved Gugino and Emily Baumgartner, Pokoj’s designated runner, to second and third. Ashley Gotowka then smacked her own RBI single, scoring Baumgartner.

Already down 2-0, Anderson had more woes in the third inning. Kaitlyn Davis hit a leadoff triple to center, just beating the throw to third base. She then scored on a groundout by the next batter, Emma Newton. Olivia Smith followed with a double, then Nance dropped a weird ball into short left field that wasn’t long enough to score Smith but did get her onto second base. After Pokoj popped out and Gugino walked to load the bases, Anderson got Gotowka to ground out to keep the damage to one run and a 3-0 deficit for Chautauqua Lake.

We knew going into it that Olivia Anderson is a great pitcher and we had to attack her pitches early (in the count) and I felt like did a really good job of that,” Gilmour said.

The Lady Marauders got what proved to be the winning runs in the bottom of the sixth inning. Jessica Beehler, Emilee Hanlon and Davis all got on base with no one out. Though Newton then struck out, Smith came up to single past diving Lady T’birds shortstop Hawkins. Beehler scored easily on the play, and the speedy Hanlon beat the throw home. When Smith took second base on the throw to home plate, drawing an unsuccessful throw to second to tag her out, Davis sped home too for Dunkirk’s sixth run.

Although Chautauqua Lake had virtually no offense up to that point, their bats came alive in the top of the seventh. Anderson singled to lead off, then took second on a pitch to the screen. Cianna Braymiller singled, but Nance threw a strike from the outfield that was slightly off-line but gave catcher Beehler more than enough time to recover and tag out Anderson attempting to score.

“That’s my bad,” said Teets. “I probably shouldn’t have sent (Anderson home), but I was trying to manufacture something at that point.”

The next batter for the Lady T’birds, Kendra Keyser, doubled to score Braymiller for Chautauqua Lake’s first run. Hawkins then bashed a gigantic blast to deepest center field, and it sailed over the fence to make the score 6-3. Though Chadelynn Johnson subsequently singled, Pokoj struck out the final two batters to close out the Dunkirk victory.

Dunkirk plays at Fredonia on Monday, while Chautauqua Lake goes to Silver Creek Tuesday, as the CCAA West 1 league season continues.

NOTES: Both teams had an eight-day weather-imposed layoff before Saturday’s contest. “We’ve had plenty of days to prepare for this game because of the weather,” Gilmour said. “The girls were just very anxious to get playing and kind of show everyone what they’re made of and how hard we’ve been working.” … Anderson gave up eight hits, four walks and hit a batter but had eight strikeouts … Davis was 1 for 2 with a triple and two walks … Smith had Dunkirk’s only multi-hit day, with a single and a double … Chautauqua Lake’s lone hit in the first six innings was a first-inning double by Lily Studley.