Ellicottville capitalizes on walks with timely hits
NORTH COLLINS — A hot day at North Collins High School made it difficult for pitchers on either side to find their groove on Thursday afternoon, but fortunately for the Ellicottville Eagles, pitcher Courtney Sexton found hers first.
Ellicottville beat North Collins 17-5 in five innings, thanks to working a plethora of walks and coming up with a few timely hits.
“Our pitchers couldn’t get the ball over the plate and that’s why we struggled,” said North Collins coach Jan Warren. “And in the later innings we had chances to score and didn’t capitalize.”
Ellicottville struck early, putting three runs across the plate in the top of the first inning, as Allison Rowland, Sexton and Jenna Hadley each scored. North Collins pitcher Kayla Dechow struggled with command in the first inning but was able to limit the damage to just those three runs.
In the bottom of the first, North Collins struck back.
Jaylee Jimerson, Dechow, Selena Maciejewski and Hailey Jasinski each scored in the bottom half of the inning, with Jasinski coming up with a big two-run triple, as it looked like North Collins had worked its way back into the game. The score stayed the same through the second inning, but in the third is when Ellicottville began to pull away.
Nine batters came to the plate in the inning, as Dechow once again couldn’t find the strike zone, hitting the first batter of the inning with a pitch, and then walking the next four batters, before Cate Ayers took over on the mound. Ellicottville scored a total of six runs in the inning, and took a 9-4 lead heading to the bottom of the third.
“We’ve had a couple slow starts,” said Ellicottville coach Matt Finn. “Salamanca got up 3-0 on us, today we fell down 4-3. I just told the girls to be patient and swing at strikes, and in the third inning in particular they did a good job of that.”
That is when Sexton found her groove. She gave up a combined six hits and just one run after the first inning. Finn knew that the North Collins lineup would pose a challenge, and after the first, Sexton did a good job handling them.
“She did a good job mixing speeds,” Finn said. “That’s what I told her she had to do. Their top four hitters are so solid you have to do something different every time you see them.”
Ellicottville would go on to add two runs in the fourth, and six more in the top of the fifth, with similar circumstances to how they scored their runs in the third. North Collins did have opportunities to score itself in the fourth and fifth, but were unable to truly capitalize.
“They made the plays they had to in the field and hats off to them,” said Warren. “We’re resilient and we’ll come back but it wasn’t our night.”
For Ellicottville, Jenna Hadley was 1 for 2 with a double, two walks and four runs scored. Sexton pitched all five innings, giving up the five runs, while striking out four. She also had a three-run home run in the fifth inning.
Meanwhile, for North Collins, Jasinksi was 3 for 3 with a single, a double, a triple, two runs scored and two RBIs. Jimerson was 2 for 3 with a single, a double and a run.
Ellicottville has had a very strong season thus far, as the win on Thursday moves them to a record of 8-2, and most of its wins have come by a decisive margin. Warren said that he’s happy for the success of the Ellicottville program.
“I told Matt (Finn) before the game that he’s having a great season,” Warren said. “I like him, he’s a good coach. Some of the best people I’ve met have been through doing this. I’m happy for him, I want to see him do well too.”
Meanwhile, North Collins has had an up-and-down season. Warren’s team started off 2-5, but went on a three-game winning streak prior to dropping Thursday’s game. They are next in action against the Salamanca Warriors on Saturday at 11 a.m.
“We’ll live to fight another day,” Warren said. “And we’ll go to Salamanca on Saturday and regroup. We were on a nice little winning streak.”
Meanwhile, Ellicottville will play the Franklinville Panthers on that same day, in a game Finn expects to be close.
“It’ll be a tight game as always,” Finn said. “They’re improving every game. Their record doesn’t show it but they’re getting better every game.”