Top of lineup powers Westfield past Red Dragons
WESTFIELD — To say Shawn Gnadzinski has an embarrassment of riches might be an understatement.
While Westfield’s softball success starts with Haleigh Dellow — literally because she’s the team’s leadoff hitter — there are plenty of skilled players throughout the Wolverines lineup that have contributed to their success thus far this season.
And they’re all young.
Saturday’s 11-0 Chautauqua-Cattaraugus Athletic Association Division 2 West shutout of Maple Grove was just another chance for Westfield (10-1, 9-1) to put its talent on display.
Dellow went 3 for 4, was a double shy of the cycle and drove in two runs on offense while the sophomore ace stymied the Red Dragons throughout a complete-game three-hitter with nine strikeouts in the circle to lead the Wolverines’ charge once again.
“She’s so locked in and she’s been locked in the whole season,” Westfield coach Sean Gnadzinski said of Dellow. “I’m not surprised with the hitting.”
No. 2 hitter Sydney Hotchkiss, Westfield’s backstop, reached base three times, including a pair of singles, and threw out a pair of runners on the base paths.
“I couldn’t be any more impressed. With the speed that Haleigh throws, it’s not easy to catch her,” Gnadzinski said. “If something were to happen, we wouldn’t even have anybody to catch.”
It was just another day at the office for the eighth-grader who happened to be celebrating her 14th birthday.
“She’s worked very hard,” Gnadzinski said. “It was nice to see her play well on her birthday.”
Freshman Tanleigh Bestine put together four productive at-bats with a pair of singles, a walk and a sacrifice fly to go along with a flawless day in the field that included a pair of throws across the diamond to first base for outs, including one that nearly ended in a double play, two tags on the receiving end of Hotchkiss’ pickoffs and a snag of a fifth-inning line drive.
“In the beginning of the year, she was struggling a little bit at the plate. Her parents brought her down to the field to get her some extra work even after practices,” Gnadzinski said. “She’s slowly getting herself locked in at the perfect time too.”
Cleanup hitter Casey Black, another freshman, added a pair of RBI singles.
“She was only playing half of the game and hitting in the No. 9 hole at the start of the season,” Gnadzinski said of Black. “Now she’s hitting No. 4.”
Westfield even had productivity at the bottom of its lineup. Freshman Brynn Ernewein doubled, scored a run and drove in a run; freshman Drew Ernewein walked and scored two runs; and freshman Keara Kincaid walked, scored two runs and drove in a run.
Maple Grove (3-8, 3-7) was unable to get anything going against Dellow. Jacquie Nickerson walked in the second inning to give the Red Dragons their first base runner and their first hit came an inning later when Erin Mansfield singled off Dellow’s glove.
“I knew the Maple Grove coach would have her girls ready,” Gnadzinski said. “I like their style. … They are pesky. It was a good win, for sure.”
Nickerson added a single in the fourth inning and Mansfield singled again in the sixth inning, but the rest of the Maple Grove hitters were unable to find their groove against Dellow, who is putting together one of the best seasons in the area.
“Not having a season last year … and her playing varsity as an eighth-grader (two years ago),” Westfield head coach Sean Gnadzinski said, “she did well, but nothing like she’s doing now.”
The Wolverines’ next test will come Monday when they’ll have a chance to put themselves in prime position to win the Division 2 West title outright in Mayville against Chautauqua Lake. In their first meeting this spring, the Thunderbirds (8-1, 8-1) handed Westfield its first loss 7-6.
“We just got our 10th win of the year. I know it’s been a long time since that happened,” Gnadzinski said. “The goal at the beginning of the year was to contend for the title. To have Monday’s game after we made a lot of mistakes the last time we played them, I’m really looking forward to it and I know the girls are as well.”
PANAMA WINS IN 8TH
PANAMA — After plating just one run in the first seven innings, Panama scored four runs in the bottom of the eighth to beat Chautauqua Lake 5-4 in Chautauqua-Cattaraugus Athletic Association Division 2 West play Saturday morning.
Trailing 4-1, Marra Hovey singled and Sarah Harvey was hit by a pitch before Mandy Brink reached on an RBI fielder’s choice in the eighth. Ashlyn Harvey then walked before Kylie Morgan hit an RBI single and Brink scored on an error to tie the game. After a strikeout, Jo Bailey bunted to plate Ashlyn Harvey with the game-winning run.
Jenna Waters singled, Olivia Herrington doubled and Lucy Gates reached on a fielder’s choice, and all three scored in the top of the eighth for the Thunderbirds.
Morgan had two hits for Panama and also scored her team’s first run in the second inning.
Chautauqua Lake tied the game in the top of the seventh when Sienna Collins doubled and scored on a fielder’s choice from Cayzlee Johnson.
Herrington had two hits, including a double, while striking out 14, walking three and hitting four batters in the circle for Chautauqua Lake (8-1, 8-1).
Ashlyn Harvey struck out seven and walked two for Panama (6-4, 6-4).