Clarence may have been seeded 11th for the Section VI Class A softball tournament, but the Red Devils hoped playing tough games in ECIC I all season would help them in the playoffs. It sure has.
The Red Devils -- who went 6-6 in league play this season -- used an all-around effort Tuesday to beat third-seeded Niagara Falls, 3-1.
Freshman Stephanie Wydra won her second game of the postseason with a seven-strikeout three-hitter while Rose Palano and Lauren Folger each had two hits and Clarence came up with some stellar plays in the field.
"I think what got us ready for this was our league -- the league was tough," said Clarence coach Todd Banaszak. "We had six losses, but many of those were by one run. The play in our league, the pitching in our league got us ready for sectionals."
Clarence only struck out four times against Falls standout pitcher Brianna Hout (seven hits, two walks) and scored twice in the third inning to take control. Folger had a two-run single up the middle to score Danielle Miano and Palano. In the fourth, Alex Morley scored on a Palano single up the middle for a 3-0 lead.
Niagara Falls scored once in the bottom of the fourth. Folger had a diving catch in center field while Lauren Helowicz snared a line drive at third base in the bottom of the seventh. With Hout waiting on deck, Wydra dug herself out of a 3-0 count to end the game with a strikeout.
The Red Devils will try to repeat their giant-killer act in the semifinals. The opponent will be defending state champion Kenmore West.
Kenmore West (20-3) has won its share of tight games over the last two seasons, and it did so again in the quarterfinals. Christine Keleher struck out 15 in a two-hitter as the Blue Devils found a way by Frontier, 1-0, with a run in the bottom of the seventh. Kenmore West got its run when Jessica Mooney drove in Sue Henseler with a bases-loaded infield single.
Orchard Park scored four runs in the top of the first and went on to a 6-1 win over Hamburg. The Quakers (13-4) got triples by Kortney Meadows and Ashley Whieldon, a double by Jen Daly and singles by Ashely Bonetto and winning pitcher Nicole Sabuda in the first.
Kristin Grzegorzewski's hard smash went for an infield single to drive in Jesse Siragusa in the top of the seventh and give Fredonia a 3-2 upset of top-seeded Eden. Siragusa pinch-ran for Megan Lundin, who had singled. She advanced to third on a bunt single by Amy Frazita. Sara Bogardis and Lundin each had two hits for the fourth-seeded Hillbillies (13-5). Denise Sievert got the win while striking out three and walking just one. Eden cut the lead to one with two runs in the bottom of the seventh, and had the tying and winning runs on second and third, respectively, when Kylie Criscione made a slick play on a grounder at third and threw to first to end the game.
Fredonia will take on Dunkirk in Thursday's 5 p.m. final at Medina. Casey Mazurek struck out seven during a five-hitter while Megan Lemiszko and Amanda Mowrey had RBIs as Dunkirk (16-4) scored a 3-1 win over Maryvale.
Michelle Peruzzini struck out 12 during her four-hitter as JFK eliminated Cassadaga Valley, 3-0. Peruzzini added a triple while Beth Ameno had single, RBI and a run scored for the Bears (14-3). . . . Falconer (15-1) sophomore Tabatha Stenstrom struck out nine and allowed only three hits in a 3-0 shutout against Maple Grove. . . . Erica Zastrow had three hits and drove in two runs as Wilson beat Silver Creek, 8-3.
Erinne Mentler whiffed 17 batters and walked just two during a one-hitter as Hinsdale scored all its runs in the second inning and beat Panama, 3-0. Rachel McCutcheon was 3 for 3 for the Bobcats (17-4). . . . Missy Flint struck out 13 in a three-hitter while Carly Pavlock's two-run single in the third helped Barker (20-1) to a 3-1 win over Westfield. . . . Senior Erin Sherwood pitched a six-hitter with six strikeouts as Forestville (13-4) whipped West Valley, 15-2. . . . Pine Valley is 18-2 after knocking around North Collins, 17-0. Sophomore Justina Troutman and sister Kourtney, a junior, combined for six hits and three RBIs and Heather Groves pitched a two-hitter.
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Katie Horan struck out eight and drove in two runs as Cardinal O'Hara beat Niagara Catholic, 4-0. . . . Mary Lynn Arlotta pitched a two-hitter with 12 strikeouts and Laura Paul doubled in Kristen Trigilio with the winning run in the third inning as Mount St. Mary beat St. Mary's, 1-0.