In control

Black Knights upend Randolph 7-1, eye CCAA Division 1 East title

OBSERVER Photo by Matt Spielman Silver Creek second baseman Molly Becker, left, throws to first baseman Priya Sakpal for the out during Tuesday’s Chautauqua-Cattaraugus Athletic Association Division 1 East softball game at Gail N. Chapman Elementary School in Randolph.

RANDOLPH — The Chautauqua-Cattaraugus Athletic Association Division 1 East softball title is going to be decided through a gauntlet of matchups this week.

Only Silver Creek controls its own destiny.

Freshman Rylee Weiskerger and junior Makayla Kelly had three hits apiece, and sophomore Molly Becker singled, doubled and drove in a pair of runs out of the No. 7 spot in the lineup as the Black Knights beat Randolph 7-1 on Tuesday evening behind Gail N. Chapman Elementary School.

Silver Creek scored three runs in the first inning, single runs in the third and fourth innings, and two more in the fifth. That was plenty for Weiskerger, who threw a complete-game three-hitter with eight strikeouts and two walks in the circle.

“For any pitcher, when your defense is playing for you, it makes your life a lot easier,” Silver Creek head coach Justin Cerne said. “You don’t feel like you have to wear the weight of the world on your shoulders.”

OBSERVER Photo by Matt Spielman Black Knights shortstop Laneya Olsen fires to first.

In the first, Weiskerger singled, stole second and went to third on a wild pitch before freshman Kyla Ziegler walked and went all the way to second on the play. Kelly then hit an RBI single and went to second on the throw ahead of freshman Pryia Sakpal’s walk to load the bases. A walk to senior Stephanie VanCheri forced in the second run of the inning and Becker picked up an RBI on a fielder’s choice to make it 3-0.

The Cardinals nearly got on the board in the bottom of the inning when junior Sadie Steward tripled to right-center field. Silver Creek missed the cutoff, but senior Laneya Olsen made a heads-up play to find the loose ball and make a perfect throw to Kelly at home to cut down Steward.

“The throw-out at home plate really kind of set the tone,” Cerne said. “You shut the door on them like that and it sets the pace for the game.”

“It was still a pretty close game at that point. We score one and get a little momentum going, who knows what happens after that,” Randolph head coach Geoff Olson said of the play at home. “That was definitely a huge play for them. They made a couple of great throws.”

“(Olsen) and Makyala are kind of our No. 1A and 1B catchers. We drill that kind of stuff all the time,” Cerne added. “For (Olsen) to know right away that’s where the play is going, it’s putting what you do in practice into play. It’s a nice confidence booster for her.”

OBSERVER Photo by Matt Spielman Randolph shortstop Eliza Hind throws to first base for the out during Tuesday’s Chautauqua-Cattaraugus Athletic Association Division 1 East softball game.

Kelly doubled and scored on a Becker RBI single in the third and Weiskerger walked before scoring on a Ziegler RBI single in the fourth.

“There have been times this year where we’ve really just kind of leaned on our top three or four hitters,” Cerne said. “That’s not really necessarily a recipe for success all the time.”

Randolph stranded a pair of one-out walks in the bottom of the fourth.

“We just couldn’t get anything going. We had a couple of hard-hit balls, not many,” Olson said. “Every one we hit hard was right at somebody.”

The Black Knights added two runs in the top of the fifth. VanCheri walked and Becker doubled with one out before a walk to sophomore Maddie Hein loaded the bases. Senior pinch-hitter Brianna Spinuzza and Weiskerger followed with back-to-back RBI singles to make it 7-0.

“That’s a kid who has worked hard all season. I’m really proud of the progress she’s made. She’s been waiting to get her batgoing; it’s kind of come in waves,” Cerne said of Becker. “We’ve been talking a lot about trying to peak at the right time as we get into the playoffs. That’s a kid who I think is really starting to peak at the right time.”

The Cardinals broke up the shutout with an unearned run in the bottom of the seventh inning on sophomore Ryanne Bushey’s RBI double to right-center field.

Randolph will continue its league run of three games in three days this evening with a game at Forestville before hosting second-place Gowanda on Thursday.

“These are the three best teams in our league and I would say we have one of the toughest leagues around,” Olson said. “If we come out with two wins out of this week, that would be a great week for us. It would put us in great shape heading into the playoffs.”

Silver Creek will travel to Pine Valley today looking to clinch at least a share of its first league title since 1995. A win would mean the Black Knights would host Gowanda on Saturday looking for the outright championship.

“At the beginning of the game, there was a little bit of added pressure. You get this one out of the way, you can get up for tomorrow,” Cerne said. “We’re sitting in a good spot right now.”


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