Lady Marauders come up short in Class B1 finals, lose to Olean, 2-0

OBSERVER Photo by Braden Carmen Above, Dunkirk pitcher Monica Pokoj winds up for a pitch during Thursday’s championship game.

WILLIAMSVILLE — The Dunkirk Lady Marauders played the defending Sectional Champion Olean Lady Huskies evenly over the final five and a half innings of play in this season’s Sectional Final at Williamsville North High School.

Sadly for the Lady Marauders, two Olean runs in the first inning were enough to earn the Lady Huskies a third straight Section VI title, their second in Class B1.

The Dunkirk Lady Marauders fell to the Olean Lady Huskies, 2-0, on Thursday night in the Section VI, Class B1 championship softball game, at Williamsville North High School.

“We came out a little bit on the nervous side, but once we settled in, everybody stepped up,” said Dunkirk head coach Michelle Gilmour. “We were playing with one of the best, and that’s something everybody should definitely be proud of.”

Dunkirk (12-7, 7-seed) had a pair of runners reach base with two outs in the first inning, but both runners were left stranded. Olean (16-7, 1-seed) was far more fortunate in the bottom of the first inning, as three Lady Huskies hits led to two Olean runs.

From that point on, Dunkirk pitcher Monica Pokoj settled in and held the top seed in the Section VI bracket scoreless the rest of the way. She finished with five straight scoreless innings, with just five hits and two walks on the game, including the three hits in the first frame.

“Monica definitely settled in,” said Gilmour of Pokoj in the circle. “She told me at the beginning of the game that she was 100 percent going to give it all she’s got, and I think she trusted her team and trusted her catcher.”

Pokoj certainly was not the problem for Dunkirk on Thursday, as she even finished as the team’s lone hitter with multiple hits on the day. The Lady Marauders were just unfortunate with the placement of their contact at the plate, as the Olean defense was in the right place at the right time over and over again.

“We had solid hits all day, they were just right to people,” said Gilmour. “In the sixth inning, Jessica Beehler has a nice line drive to the center fielder. A little to the left or a little to the right, it would’ve been a whole different game. There were multiple times in the game where a couple timely hits here or there, I’m sure it could have been a different outcome.”

Justine Brooks finished off a compete game shutout in the top of the seventh inning for Olean. She allowed six hits and struck out seven.

Dunkirk, who reached the Sectional title game as a 7-seed, finds comfort in the fact that the Lady Marauders exceeded expectations this year, especially in the postseason.

“At the beginning of the season, I don’t think many teams thought we were going to be here,” said Gilmour. “But we made it here.”

Dunkirk expects to have a good portion of its lineup back next season, and hopes Thursday’s loss is something the returners can build upon.

“It was a wonderful season. It is a joy coaching these girls,” said Gilmour. “I will miss the seniors dearly, but I think this is good experience for the underclassmen and we will make a run at it next year.”

Twitter: @bradencarmen