No place like home

Forestville’s Hazelton honored in Frewsburg for 100th coaching victory

OBSERVER Photo by Scott Kindberg Forestville softball coach Brianne Hazelton, center, is pictured with former Frewsburg teammates following the Hornets’ game in Frewsburg on Friday afternoon. The Bears and head coach Jon Blanchard honored Hazelton for her 100th coaching win earlier in the week.

FREWSBURG — For the record, Frewsburg’s Braelyn Stelmack scored the go-ahead run in the bottom of the sixth inning in Friday’s Chautauqua-Cattaraugus Athletic Association nonleague softball game.

For the record, the Bears held on for a 6-5 victory over Forestville.

And, for the record, Frewsburg finished the regular season 6-8, while the Hornets fell to 3-10.

But, in the grand scheme of things, the outcome wasn’t what truly mattered on a warm mid-June day at the Robert H. Jackson Sports Complex.

Rather, it was what occurred postgame that proved, once again, that there’s no place like “home.”

OBSERVER Photo by Scott Kindberg Forestville coach Brianne Hazelton is pictured with Frewsburg coach Jon Blanchard on Friday in Frewsburg. Hazelton played for Blanchard in the late 1990s.

Especially for Forestville coach Brianne Hazelton (Frewsburg Class of 1998), who was honored with balloons, signs and hugs for claiming her 100th career victory earlier this week.

The person responsible for the ceremony?

Her counterpart in the Frewsburg dugout, Jon Blanchard, who coached Hazelton in the late 1990s.

“I didn’t really want to play that much, because it was supposed to rain,” he admitted.

But after he exchanged emails with Hazelton, Blanchard agreed to go ahead with the game as planned.

“I asked her what we were going to celebrate. Was it her 10th year (as coach)? Fifteenth year? 100th win? 150th win?”

Hazelton had no idea what her career record was with the Hornets — she has coached 11 seasons — until she checked the win totals that she had stored in her computer.

Much to her surprise, she hit the century mark with a win over Pine Valley on Tuesday.

“Thank you for that,” Hazelton said to her former coach. “Are you psychic?”

Hardly, but the relationship they built more than a quarter-century ago has stood the test of time. In fact, Frewsburg and Forestville have played every year since Hazelton took over the coaching duties in 2010.

“It’s the relationships you build,” Blanchard said. “The kids don’t know right now, but this might be the best thing they’ll remember for 20 years, 25 years. … The relationships you build with the kids, now adults, is as important as anything to me. That makes me happy.”

So, too, of course, does the Bears’ victory.

Frewsburg scored three runs in the first inning off Forestville pitcher Alexis Alguire, highlighted by a pair of RBI singles by winning pitcher Reagan Chitester and Cadence Rodgers. The Hornets got on the board in the fourth courtesy of Alguire’s run-scoring single, but Frewsburg tacked on two more runs in the bottom of the inning, on Corinne McLaughlin’s two-run single.

Chitester kept Forestville in check until the top of the sixth when three straight walks, a wild pitch and a two-run single by Alguire tied the game 5-5.

In the bottom of the inning, Alguire struck out the first two batters, but Stelmack singled to center, stole second base, went to third on a wild pitch and scored on a throwing error.

Chitester retired the Hornets in order in the top of the seventh to secure the Bears’ victory.

Then it was time to celebrate Hazelton.

How good was she during her time at Frewsburg Central?

The-then Brianne Prince finished her career with an 83-25 record, including 60-9 her last three seasons; struck out 902 batters in 695 innings pitched; and posted a 0.65 earned-run average. For her efforts in the circle, she was a three-time Post-Journal Player of the Year, a career that ultimately landed her at St. Bonaventure University.

Fittingly, some of Hazelton’s former high school teammates were there to honor her, too.

“I didn’t know they were coming,” she said. “I was so excited. I haven’t seen these ladies in 10-15 years. It made my day. It was awesome. It just makes me happy. We had such a good time and made so many memories and (today) brought some of that back.”

Added Blanchard: “I’m just trying to soak all this in. For a game I didn’t want to play, it turns out to be pretty awesome, and I won.”

With all due respect to the longtime Frewsburg coach, everybody was a winner on this day.


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