Instant Classic Rewinds, Part III
Anderson’s stellar game to remember
Editor’s Note: This is the third among a series of memorable games from the high school spring sports season revisited throughout the summer.
Thursday, May 2 in Mayville, Chautauqua Lake Lady Thunderbirds superstar pitcher Olivia Anderson had the kind of performance that will be looked back upon for years to come. On a defending State Champion team, Anderson was surrounded by stellar teammates every time she took the field. That day, however, Anderson was responsible for every highlight in a CCAA Division 1 West softball showdown against Dunkirk. The reigning All-State Co-Player of the Year in Class C, Anderson led Chautauqua Lake to a 1-0 win over Dunkirk, at Chautauqua Lake High School.
After heavy rainfall throughout the week rendered the Dunkirk High School softball field unplayable, Dunkirk agreed to move the game to Mayville just to ensure the game would be played. Because of that fact, for the first time in her six-year varsity career at Chautauqua Lake, Anderson came to the plate before she stepped into the circle.
She certainly made it a moment to remember. Anderson drilled a home run over the left field fence to give her team the early 1-0 advantage. It was Anderson’s first home run on her home field in her career.
“It was an amazing feeling, especially because I’ve never hit one at my own field, so that was really nice, in my senior year,” said Anderson after the game.
As it turned out, that one run was enough to come away with the win — even though it didn’t seem like that would be the case after the game’s early moments.
“Where I felt after the first inning was we still have a lot of work to go,” said Chautauqua Lake coach Sue Teets after the game. “If you would’ve told me at that point that it would end 1-0, I would’ve said no way, that’s not going to happen.”
After showing off her talents at the plate, Anderson stepped into the circle and looked as comfortable as ever. Anderson struck out the side in the first inning, then allowed just one hit and two more baserunners to reach on errors over the next three innings. Anderson avoided any trouble in each of the first four innings, as she did not allow a runner to reach scoring position.
The Lady Thunderbirds did have opportunities throughout the game to tack on insurance runs, but were unable to do so. First, in the top of the fourth inning, Cianna Braymiller smoked a line drive to deep center field for a leadoff double. She advanced to third base with just one out but could not come in to score. Then, in the sixth inning, Katelyn Fardink reached on a leadoff walk and Anderson followed with an infield single. However, the next three batters were unable to bring the runs across.
Chautauqua Lake struggled at the plate against Dunkirk pitcher Monica Pokoj — who pitched about as well as a pitcher can and still earn a loss. There was not any room for Anderson to slip up — and she didn’t. The pressure just made the league’s top pitcher even better.
“It was a lot of pressure, pitching definitely comes with a lot of pressure,” said Anderson after the game. “I think it helps motivate me and push me. I actually like pitching under the pressure. I think I have my best games when I’m under pressure.”
Anderson recorded her eighth and ninth strikeouts of the game to start off the bottom of the sixth inning against the middle of the Dunkirk order. She later induced a ground ball on the infield to finish off the sixth frame, then recorded the first two outs of the bottom of the seventh inning on fly balls. Always with a flair for the dramatic, Anderson finished the game in style with her 10th strikeout to earn the win.
“It was a great game,” said Dunkirk coach Michelle Gilmour after the game, despite the loss. “These are the games that are fun to be a part of.”
Anderson finished with seven shutout innings to earn the win, only three hits and no walks allowed, along with 10 strikeouts. Her home run in the first inning was the only run of the game.
After the win, Coach Teets revealed that she kept the game ball as a souvenir for Anderson. After such a heralded career at Chautauqua Lake, her trophy case might be running out of room.