In a very competitive league like CCAA Division 2, not many would have picked Westfield to be the Section 6 champs, but the No. 2 Lady Wolverines beat the odds and were crowned champions Saturday at Promenschenkel Stadium in Dunkirk.
“We are the number two seed,” Westfield coach Dave Luder said. “Nobody thought we’d even be around for this game. We don’t mention the underdog thing though. We mention what we do right.”
Westfield did so in dramatic fashion with a two-out, walk-off RBI single from Rachel Quagliana to score Sam Grismore and beat the defending Sectional champions, the No. 4 Randolph Lady Cardinals.
“The ending was great,” Luder said. “Sam has been with me four years. She’s the last one on the team from the year we went to the State Finals. I’ve known all year long, if the game was on the line, Sam was involved in some way. Rachel’s bat has been on lately, so it was great to see her come up with such a huge hit for us.”
Westfield got out to a rocky start as Randolph loaded the bases in the top of the first. Marah Maycock and Sydney Wheeler singled, while Roxanne Finch walked to lead off the game.
After that, Westfield’s pitcher Kylen Tennies settled down and struck out Mandy Finch, which was followed by a double play from the Lady Wolverines’ defense.
“Emily, with the double-play, coming in making that shoe-string catch in left field and then throwing to second,” Luder continued. “What an out. We get away without them scoring a run.”
Westfield brushed off the shaky start and came to play in the bottom half of the inning. With one out, Quagliana singled and was then scored when Sara Fotchman ripped a double down the left field line. Fotchman moved over to third base on the throw to the plate.
“There is the little things like Megan Shepard hitting a weak ground ball to second and we score on it,” Luder added about the way his team has come together. “They believe in themselves. They play the game with passion. These girls have grown up and become a nice team.”
With Fotchman crossing the plate, the Lady Wolverines took a 2-0 lead.
The Lady Cardinals answered right back in the top of the second when Kelsie Beaver led off with a double and then stole third base. Amanda Smith hit into a fielder’s choice which scored Beaver and cut Randolph’s deficit in half.
Randolph carried that momentum into the bottom half of the second as they picked up a double play defensively.
“I think it was anybody’s game the whole way through,” Randolph coach Robin Maycock said. “We had some opportunities, but there were some things that didn’t go our way. I’m just really proud of our team.”
The Lady Cardinals tied the game up 2-all in the top of the second. After hitting a single to get aboard, Maycock scored on a Westfield throwing error.
“We played relatively good defense. Randolph is a good hitting team, they beat us 14-2, but that game was early in the year,” Luder said. “We made seven errors that game. I think we’ve made seven errors in the last five games.”
In the top of the fifth, Randolph got their first lead of the game when Kaylee Luce doubled and was then plated by a Maycock double.
Maycock was 3 for 4 on the game with an RBI and a run scored to lead the Lady Cardinals.
In the bottom of the fifth, Lynn Wood reached on a fielder’s choice, moved to second on an error and came around to score on a hit by Grismore. Wood’s run knotted the game at 3-3.
Westfield retired Randolph’s batters 1-2-3 in the top of the seventh with the game still tied.
In the bottom half of the seventh, the first two Lady Wolverines’ batters were retired, which brought up the top of Westfield’s batting order.
Grismore singled past the short stop to get a runner on for Quagliana.
In a gutsy move with two outs, Luder gave the sign for Grismore to steal second, which moved her into scoring position.
“I was hoping for a gapper from Sam, or a single and I knew I could steal her,” Luder said of his senior short stop. “She’s only been thrown out probably five times in four years, so I had confidence. I guess it’s nice when your plans work out.”
With Grismore now in scoring position, Quaglinana’s bloop-single into shallow right field was just enough for Grismore to come around for the walk-off win.
With the win, Westfield moved on to play the Section 5 champion in the Far West Regional game on Tuesday. The game did not end in time for this week’s edition.
Westfield’s Kylen Tennies delivers a pitch Saturday against Randolph, during the Section 6 Class C softball title game, held at Promenschenkel Stadium, in Dunkirk.