Another final

Lucas tosses one-hitter, Hillbillies reach B1 title game

Fredonia’s Jordan Lucas screams after getting out of a jam to end the top of the sixth inning during Tuesday’s Section VI Class B1 semifinal against East Aurora at Fredonia High School. OBSERVER Photo by Ashleigh Brown

Hesitating just a split-second can be very costly and the Fredonia softball team made East Aurora learn that the hard way.

Already trailing 1-0 against one of the best pitchers in the state, a pair of East Aurora fielder’s choices in the bottom of the sixth inning allowed the ‘Billies to comfortably pull away for a 5-0 victory in the Section VI Class B1 semifinals Tuesday.

“We do a lot of work on baserunning,” Fredonia head coach Jesse Beers stated. “We work on squeeze bunts, we work on looking at their defense and if they’re back or are they up. Really, the girl just hesitated for a split-second on that one where we scored on a grounder to second base and that was the difference. We didn’t hesitate, they did, we scored a run.”

Fredonia’s Jordan Lucas probably did not need more support on the scoreboard, but the four-run sixth inning showed how things can go from bad to worse very quickly for East Aurora.

Going against Lucas, East Aurora needed to capitalize on its opportunities to score and in the top of the sixth the Blue Devils finally got their only baserunner into scoring position. Sadie Rogers recorded East Aurora’s only hit when she placed a perfect bunt between first base and the pitching circle. When a last-ditch effort scoop to first went awry, it allowed Rogers to reach second with one out. East Aurora’s best hitter, Alyssa Kingston, stepped up to the plate next and a walk put the go-ahead run on the bases.

Fredonia’s Naomi Muck lays down a bunt. OBSERVER Photo by Ashleigh Brown

That didn’t faze Lucas.

With the pressure on, Lucas continued to deliver for Fredonia and struck out the rest of the side to maintain the 1-0 advantage.

“I feel like we’ve been there before, there wasn’t any panic in us,” Beers said about the defensive jam. “When I called timeout, it wasn’t because there was any panic, it was trying to decide if we were going to pitch to that girl. We decided to pitch around her without really pitching around her; see if we could get her to chase outside the zone, but the walk didn’t really kill us.

“Then Jordan, with the way she throws, she can get outs for us and she can get outs without putting a ball in play,” Beers added. “The only hit they got today was that push bunt, which was a fantastic bunt, but in the sectional semifinals and the girl is throwing a one-hitter, I’ll take it all day long.”

Not only did Lucas get herself out of her own jam, but she also drove in the first two Fredonia runs.

Maddie Ambrose slides safely into home for Fredonia’s second run in Tuesday’s 5-0 Section VI Class B1 semifinal win over East Aurora. OBSERVER Photo by Ashleigh Brown

The ‘Billies mustered just one hit the first time through the lineup with Kingston performing well in the circle for East Aurora, so Fredonia needed to make it count when its baserunners got on. Bella Buckley led off the bottom of the third with a walk, but Kingston induced a pop-up and then got a strikeout while Buckley swiped second.

It looked like Kingston might get out of the jam, but Lucas stepped up with two outs and crushed an RBI ground-rule double.

Lucas then got Fredonia’s scoring started in the bottom of the sixth, capitalizing on Danielle Palisin’s leadoff hit with an RBI single to make it 2-0. Jenna Fryberger then drove in Lucas’ courtesy runner, Maddie Ambrose, on a fielder’s choice. After stealing second and reaching third on a wild pitch, Fryberger was knocked in by another RBI fielder’s choice, this time from Ellie VanDette. Callie Draggett scored the final run on a wild pitch.

“The league we play in, we face some pretty good pitching all year long,” Beers stated. “I think that just prepares us for when we get into situations like this and she (Kingston) was as advertised. In innings 1-2-3 I think she had our number, but as the game progressed we started to get better at-bats on her. I think everything we’ve done has prepared us for this point.”

Lucas was dominant in the circle allowing just the one hit, two walks and one hit batter while striking out 18 Blue Devils. However, it wasn’t just her having a great day in the circle as Kingston made all of Fredonia’s runs hard-earned giving up just four hits and two walks while striking out 12 batters.

Fredonia’s Jenna Fryberger steals second base in the bottom of the sixth inning. OBSERVER Photo by Ashleigh Brown

“It’s almost become ordinary for us, which is sort of selfish on our parts for us to expect her to perform like this,” Beers said about Lucas’ pitching. “But to be honest with you, she expects it of herself. I think today was extra special. … I think their pitcher is potentially a St. Bonaventure recruit so there is a little personality that way with it. She was determined today, she had a little extra pop on her fastball.”

Fryberger recorded the first hit for Fredonia, Lucas finished with a double and a single, and Palisin had a hit. If Fredonia hopes to secure its third straight sectional title, it will need more players like Fryberger to step up against the tough competition.

“What composure out of an eighth-grader,” Beers said about Fryberger. “I mean holy smokes. We pulled her up probably halfway through the school year and we knew that she could swing a bat. We brought her up to give our offense a little bit of pop and that’s what she’s done. She has been as advertised for us, not only that, but she plays nice outfield for us.”

Fredonia (19-0) will play either No. 2 Depew or No. 3 Akron on Thursday at Grand Island High School at 5 p.m. East Aurora finished its season with a 13-3 record.


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