Although West Seneca East presented a slew of veteran talent heading into Wednesday’s title game, the performances of a pair of up-and-coming underclassmen gave the Trojans the victory over the defending champion Williamsville East.
Sophomore Anilese Kelly tossed a two-hitter with eight strikeouts in a triumphant effort, but it was junior varsity call-up Julia Slowik whose solo home run in the fourth lifted the No. 2 Trojans over the top-seeded Flames in the Section VI Class A-1 softball championship game at Depew.
The title is West Seneca East’s (19-4) third overall with the others coming in 1976 and 2009. Seniors Rachel Funk, Elyse Fuerst, Brittany Nowatzki, Madi Jaszcz and Shannon Borowiak played on Trojans teams that made final appearances in 2013 and 2015.
Top-seeded Lewiston-Porter (17-2) earned its first sectional softball championship in comeback fashion when Sydney Parker worked a nine-pitch walk with two down in the sixth inning for a 3-2 win over No. 6 Starpoint (7-10).
Lew-Port and West Seneca East will meet for the overall Class A championship at 4 p.m. Friday at Niagara-Wheatfield.
“We had a young team but the core has been here since our freshman year,” said Funk, a Niagara University commit. “Third time’s a charm.”
Funk added two hits against her ECIC II foes, including an RBI double in the third inning to plate Jaszcz (single) and tie the game, 1-1.
As Kelly allowed just four Flames to reach base, her classmate, Slowik, found her spot and notched her game-winning drive over the fence in the fourth.
“When I got up there I swung and I knew I was going to do it,” said Slowik.
Williamsville East’s first two batters, Veronica Zimmerman and Jessica Weaver, singled and walked, respectively, before an error at first helped Weaver cross the plate for an early 1-0 Flames lead.
That was enough to get the jitters out as Kelly faced four batters or less in the remaining six innings, thanks to her change-up.
“I know the batters a little more so I know what they can and cannot hit,” said Kelly.
While West Seneca East has plenty of playoff experience, coach Chris Durr’s Williamsville East team did not have a senior on the roster in a 16-6 season.
Starpoint, making it fourth consecutive appearance in the sectional finals, led 2-0 midway through the fifth inning of the A-2 final. Pitcher Samantha Seegar drove in the first run in the first inning, and Stephanie Gfroerer’s solo home run made it 2-0 in the fifth. Then the Lancers round their stride.
They scored once in the bottom of the fifth when Megan McGlynn scored on Sydney Parker’s bunt.
In the sixth, an error allowed Emma Waechter to score the tying run before Parker worked a bases-loaded walk the sent Rily Crum home with the deciding run.
“I was a little nervous going up there,” said Parker, a senior. “I didn’t want to leave the bases loaded.
“It was a down year for us,” said Starpoint coach Joe Hill, whose team started the season 2-7 due to key injuries then went on a late run to make it to the postseason.
“Losing seven starters, and to lose a sectional championship by one run, I’ll take it,” Hill said.