Pine Valley stuns Randolph on Senior Night

OBSERVER Photo by Lisa Monacelli Pine Valley pitcher Malori Waag delivers a pitch during Thursday’s game against Randolph, at Pine Valley High School, in South Dayton. Waag, a senior, earned the win for the Lady Panthers in a 5-3 victory.

SOUTH DAYTON — The Pine Valley Lady Panthers students created a scoreboard for their softball team to use, and it was put to good use on Thursday night. People in the community were reminded of the how well the Lady Panthers played on Thursday night by looking up to the scoreboard, to see the score 5-3 in favor of Pine Valley over the Randolph Lady Cardinals, on Senior Night, at Pine Valley High School in a CCAA Division 2 East softball game.

“The team has shown definite improvement this year,” said Pine Valley coach Dave Saxton. “From how we played earlier in the year, we are making better plays and the results are starting to come from it. We are a young team with a bright future. Now that we beat a great team, we have picked up more confidence and maybe more quality results to come.”

Randolph (7-3) struck early with a run in the first two innings. In the first, Mya Adams led off with a double that went to the left field fence. She would score on the next pitch as Kyra Pence brought her in with an RBI single. In the second inning, Lavani Johnson doubled after Nikki Lockwood walked. On the play, Autumn Ellis was quick to retrieve the ball from left field and had a quick relay to catcher Morgan Sandy, who applied the tag for the first out. Maisie Abrams would bring Johnson home with an RBI groundout.

“We did a great job of hitting early,” Randolph coach Geoff Olson stated. “As the game progressed, we made some mistakes and could not get a timely hit, but credit goes to Pine Valley as they made some good plays when they needed to. Their fielders came through with great assists.”

Pine Valley (4-5) responded with two runs of its own in the bottom half of the inning. Payton Swanson got the rally started with a single. Trista Farnham followed and hit an inside the park homerun that barely cleared third base and went into the left field corner.

“That was the first home run that we have hit in over two years,” said Pine Valley coach Dave Saxton. “Trista is a freshman and a great newcomer with a lot of expectations.”

The Lady Panthers would keep the momentum going with another run in the third by being aggressive on the bases. Malori Waag was hit by a pitch and Sandy walked. The next Lady Panther hit the ball to third, where the Lady Cardinals took the force at third and threw out the runner at first. On the throw, Sandy ran to third. She would take advantage of a Randolph miscue as the ball sailed into left field to score on the play.

Randolph tied the game up in the fifth. Ella Conley singled and advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt from Abby Mansfield. Kendall Schmitt would come through with an RBI single.

Pine Valley put together a solid sixth inning with deep hits. Haley Campbell led off with a single. With two outs, Mattison Cadle had the blast of the day as the ball went well over the outfielder’s head to record a double. Swanson would provide the Panthers with an insurance run as she singled Cadle home.

According to Saxton, “Payton has been hitting well lately. When there are runners on base, she comes through with timely hitting as you can see the determination in her eyes.”

Randolph would get a rally going in the seventh to put the tying run on first. However, Waag got the Panthers out of the threat as a ground ball to third ended the game.

Waag pitched the full seven innings for the Panthers, surrendering three runs from eight hits and four walks while striking out four. She worked well with catcher Morgan Sandy as she called a great game.

“That was one of her finest games this year,” Saxton added. “Malori was in control and did a good job mixing her pitches. All of the girls came together behind her to give her support with efficient fielding.”

Mansfield gave a valiant effort in defeat, giving up five runs from seven hits and one free pass while striking out one.

Mya Abrams was the lone Cardinal with a multiple hit game or an extra base hit as she contributed with two singles and a double.

“Mya has done a fantastic job hitting for us this year,” Olson added. “She was hitting over .600 coming into the game and went three for four today. I am proud of how well she has played and to hit over .600 this year is a great accomplishment. We can rely on her to get on base, but it depends if we can add on to her hits and tonight we could not.”

Swanson led the Lady Panthers with three singles, while Campbell had a multiple hit game of her own with two singles. Farnham and Cadle each had timely hits with a home run and double respectively.

After the game, Pine Valley celebrated two seniors who played softball, Malori Waag and Katelyn Miller.

“Malori has been with us for a long time,” Saxton stated. “Unfortunately she was hurt last year, but has come back and been a huge factor.” “Katelyn had been here the last two years,” Saxton added. “Last year she was a platoon player and this year, she worked her way up to be the leadoff hitter. Katelyn is the heart and soul of the team and always brings the team up with her mannerism. Both girls will be missed with their presence.”

Pine Valley hosts Ellicottville on Saturday for its final league game, while Randolph visits Westfield on Tuesday for a non league playoff tune up.