Shocking upsets highlight the first week of sectional playoff action
Playoff opening ‘Week in Review’
The first week of the sectional playoffs for baseball and softball has concluded, and with it, many exciting moments happened on the diamond. From shocking upsets to blowout victories and everything in between, here’s a look back at the first week of the baseball and softball postseason.
After moving up to CCAA Division 1 West in both baseball and softball this season, the Cassadaga Valley Cougars baseball team and Lady Cougars softball team struggled in the regular season all year long. In fact, the two teams combined for just one win on the season heading into the Section VI playoffs — earning the Lady Cougars the 8-seed out of eight softball teams in Class C2 and the Cougars the 12-seed, the lowest seed in the Class C baseball bracket.
Neither of those predicaments seemed to bother the athletes from Cassadaga Valley, however, as each team shocked their respective bracket with an opening round victory in the sectional playoffs. The Lady Cougars stunned the No. 1 seed, Frewsburg, 4-3 on Thursday, for the first win of the season for the Lady Cougars — and it came against a team that came in with a 14-2 record and a pitcher, MaKena Adams, who threw two no-hitters on the season. Not to be outdone, the Cougars baseball team pulled off an upset of No. 5 Randolph on the road on Friday night, 3-1. The two teams from Sinclairville came in to the playoffs with one win between them on the year, with a combined record of 1-29, but as they say, that’s why you play the games. Moving forward, the Cougars baseball team travels to rival Falconer, the 4-seed, on Tuesday. The Lady Cougars will travel to 5-seed Ellicottville on Tuesday.
Speaking of upsets, the Dunkirk Lady Marauders have made a habit out of shocking sectional playoff brackets, no matter the sport. Well, the Lady Marauders did it again, with a Class B1 quarterfinal victory over 2-seed Alden, 9-4, on Thursday night on the road. Dunkirk, which features three starters — Kymi Nance, Jessica Beehler and Olivia Smith — from the Lady Marauders basketball team that has reeled off quite a string of impressive postseason upsets over the past two years, came into the Class B1 sectional playoffs as a 7-seed. After a 14-8 win at home against East Aurora on Tuesday, the Lady Marauders kept the offense rolling in Alden on Thursday to advance to the sectional semifinals. Now, Dunkirk will face City Honors on Tuesday in the Class B1 semifinals, with the winner advancing to the B1 finals at Williamsville North on Thursday, to face the winner of Springville and Olean.
As many upsets as there were this past week, there was nearly another. The Silver Creek Black Knights came away with a nail-biting victory over Westfield, 4-3, on Friday night in a Class C baseball matchup in Silver Creek. After six shutout innings for the Black Knights, Westfield came through with three runs in the seventh inning to take a 3-2 lead. Silver Creek answered with two in the bottom of the seventh inning to win in walk-off fashion and avoid the upset. The Black Knights face No. 3 Frewsburg, Tuesday, in Frewsburg.
While there were plenty of upsets in Week 1 of the playoffs, plenty more teams that had favorable matchups advanced, as well. Early in the week, the North Collins Lady Eagles softball team, the 3-seed in Class D, moved its playoff game up in the week and on the road at No. 6 Sherman, to avoid the North Collins prom. The change of date and venue did not seem to bother the Lady Eagles one bit, as the back-to-back Section VI softball champions ran away with a 19-3 victory over Sherman. Two days later, the 2-seed in Class D, Forestville, had a blowout win of its own — an 18-9 win over 7-seed Franklinville on Thursday night, at Forestville High School. Now, Forestville and North Collins will meet in the sectional semifinals, Wednesday night, with a spot in the Class D sectional title game on the line. The winner will face the winner of No. 1 Panama and No. 4 Brocton — who defeated Pine Valley on Thursday night, 8-4, in Brocton.
The Fredonia Lady ‘Billies softball team and the Chautauqua Lake Thunderbirds baseball team each had a dominant pitching performance in their first playoff game of the year to lead their team to the next round of the playoffs. For the Lady ‘Billies, sophomore pitcher Maddy Marsh set down No. 6 Wilson with ease, in a complete game shutout at SUNY Fredonia on Thursday evening in the Section VI, Class B2 softball quarterfinals. In the Class C pre-quarterfinals on Friday night, Chautauqua Lake senior Kyler Majka threw a complete game as well, with an astounding 15 strikeouts to lead No. 8 Chautauqua Lake to a 12-1 win over No. 9 Ellicottville, in Mayville. The Fredonia Lady ‘Billies advance to the Class B2 semifinals to take on No. 2 Royalton-Hartland, while Chautauqua Lake advances to the Class C quarterfinals, on the road against No. 1 Holland.
Like Chautauqua Lake, also advancing after a victory on Friday night in the sectional baseball playoffs is the 2-seed in Class B2, the Gowanda Panthers. After a 9-1 win over Cleveland Hill in Gowanda on Friday, the Panthers will play host to their CCAA Division 1 East league rival, 3-seed Allegany-Limestone, on Tuesday night. In two matchups during the regular season, Gowanda split with Allegany-Limestone, with the home team in each contest coming away with a 3-2 victory in each instance.
While everyone else was out playing this past week, two No. 1 seeds in their respective classes were at home all week preparing for their playoff runs to begin. Class C1 softball No. 1 seed Chautauqua Lake — the defending Class C State Champions — received a bye into the semifinals of the Section VI, Class C1 softball bracket, and will face Falconer on Tuesday, in Mayville. Likewise, the defending Class D sectional champion baseball team, the Brocton Bulldogs, begin their playoff journey on Thursday, in Brocton, against the winner of No. 4 Pine Valley and No. 5 North Collins on Tuesday.
With plenty of teams still left standing all across the area, it’s safe to say there will still be plenty of action as the sectional playoffs advance to Week 2. Now it comes down to how much further these teams can go, and who may be left standing when it’s all said and done.