Now the owner of two sectional titles, Cleveland Hill’s latest championship run almost did not happen.
Prom was scheduled for May 20, the same day as the Class C prequarterfinal. Fortunately for them – and grief for the rest of Class C - the game was able to be moved up a day.
Fast forward eight days and the Golden Eagles are champions once again.
Freshman Ali McIntosh, who was not old enough for prom anyway, muscled up another game-winning hit when her two-run single in the second held up to lift No. 4 Cleve Hill (14-5) over 10th-seeded Barker (7-14), 2-0, for the Section VI Class C softball championship.
In Class D, top-seeded Franklinville knocked off defending champ Pine Valley, 5-3, behind a three-hit, two-RBI performance from a weakened Ally Haskell in the second game of the doubleheader on Friday at Gowanda High School.
Cleveland Hill’s prom committee set up its big night at Lucarelli’s Banquet Center in Lackawanna early in the school year. It was too late in the year to change the date, so some players thought it would be best to skip the playoffs, but there was another option. The prequarterfinal versus Salamanca was moved up to May 19.
The rest is history.
“We were actually going to opt out because of prom. I’m glad we didn’t,” said McIntosh, who hit a walk-off in extras of the semifinals.
The youngest of three sisters on the team, McIntosh won the final in the second inning, driving in Kat Skorka and her oldest sister, Megan. Megan was an eighth-grader with Mo Barker on the 2012 team that won the Class B title.
Sophomore Taylor Betz worked a no-hitter until Sabrina Harris earned Barker’s lone hit in the sixth. Betz finished with six strikeouts and a single.
“I can’t be more proud of this team. They battle every single time out,” said coach Justin Ditzel.
Franklinville’s Haskell hurt her throwing shoulder on Wednesday and changed her pitching and batting style for the final.
The righty struck out eight batters while pitching slingshot and drove in two runs on three hits bunting.
Her eighth-grade sister, Dani, and Raine Pfeiffer, each scored two runs.
“We kept her in the same spot in the order (No. 3) because we were hoping there would be runners on base and it worked out for us,” said Franklinville coach Allan Dunlap.
Pine Valley loaded the bases and plated two on Rebecca Butcher’s single in the sixth to get within two. In the seventh, with one down and the tying run at the plate, Jenna Hicks caught a pop fly and turned a double play to Shelby Reynolds at first to end it, granting Franklinville (17-3) a sectional title after two consecutive runner-ups in Class C.
Cleveland Hill and Franklinville will participate in the Far West Regionals on June 3 at either Scio High School or SUNY Brockport against the Section V representative.