Class B2 champs again
Fredonia rolls past Akron
GRAND ISLAND — Last year when the Fredonia softball team captured the Section VI Class B2 title against Eden, the Hillbillies played a marathon game that started one day in Williamsville and ended the next in Gowanda thanks to the pouring rain.
On Thursday night at the Grand Island High School Athletic Complex, the second-seeded Hillbillies found themselves in another situation to capture the sectional title with No. 4 Akron in the way.
It was a completely different game, but featured the same result thanks to the only thing pouring being runs across the plate for Fredonia in a quick 12-0 victory in five innings via mercy rule.
“It’s different, but it’s not any less sweet,” Fredonia head coach Jesse Beers said after the win. “Any time you get a sectional title it’s a great feeling. When you hang 10 on them in the first inning and you’ve got No. 21 in the circle it does take a little bit of the thrill out of it. I thought we played well defensively, they didn’t put a whole lot of balls in play. Jordan (Lucas) gave up one hit and one walk is all, so you’re in a sectional final and you’ve got to field only half a dozen balls — life’s good.”
The story of the postseason up to the final has been Lucas, Fredonia’s junior pitcher, throwing a no-hitter in the quarterfinals against Royalton-Hartland and then a perfect game against Falconer on Tuesday. Lucas was lights-out again Thursday, giving up just one hit in the top of the fifth inning, but her teammates did her a big favor by scoring 10 runs in the bottom of the first inning.
Lucas finished her three-game run to the sectional title allowing just one hit, three baserunners, two walks and 46 strikeouts — with 13 in the finals — while only facing 60 batters.
“She does amazing,” Fredonia senior captain Gaby Matos said about Lucas. “She came back from last year and still did amazing. We wouldn’t be here without her.”
Giving an elite pitcher like Lucas any sort of lead is a recipe for success and a double-digit advantage means it’s as good as over, but that did not prevent a dramatic finish. Senior captain Gaby Matos was adamant on the bus ride to Grand Island that this would not be her last game and she certainly delivered on that statement.
“She has really emerged as the leader of the team this year,” Beers said about Matos. “Not that the other captains haven’t, but she’s really taken the bull by the horns. On the way up today she addressed the entire team. She addressed the entire team about how this wasn’t going to be her last game and she was going to come out and make sure this was going to happen. Even though we were sectional champs last year, we’ve got nine different kids on our team this year. For a lot of kids this is their first time on that stage and for her to come up and be that sort of leader/motherly figure to them really took a lot of that edge off.”
With Fredonia up 10-0 in the bottom of the fifth inning, just two more runs would end the game. Matos stepped up to the plate with two outs, Ava Muck on second and Leah Marsh on first, courtesy running for catcher Callie Draggett and Lucas, respectively. On the first pitch Matos saw she hammered a ball that made it past the right fielder to land her on third for a two-run triple that gave Fredonia the sectional title.
“It feels amazing knowing my teammates have my back and I have their backs,” Matos added. “It was a rush, I was really excited to come here. I was nervous, because it’s the second year in a row and I really wanted to leave with another blue patch. I’m really excited and happy we won. I feel amazing.”
Matos finished the game 3 for 4 with four RBIs to lead a young group offensively. Just behind Matos was Ellie Van Dette finishing 2 for 3 with a pair of doubles and three RBIs, Draggett hit 4 for 4 with an RBI, and both Lucas and Maddie Ambrose adding an RBI.
“Last year was a tough year because we lost a lot of seniors,” Matos stated. “But I would not change my team for the world. We are amazing, I love my girls so much and they’re my teammates and forever they’re going to stay in my heart.”
Fredonia will now look ahead to the Class B crossover game on Tuesday against Class B1 champion Iroquois for the right to represent Section VI in the Far West Regional.
“We played Iroquois earlier this year and they beat us,” Beers added. “We’re a completely different team than we were at that point and I think they would say they’re a different team at this point. So honestly, that game is really nothing more than a scouting report for both teams right now. I guarantee they’re not going to come in and take us lightly and we’re not going to return the favor either.”