The Williamsville East and Olean softball teams both got what they wished for Thursday.
Each won a Section VI championship. The teams also earned the right to go through each other in their respective quests to reach the New York State Public High Schools Athletic Association tournament.
Williamsville East (16-3) captured its second Section VI softball championship in three years by beating Williamsville South, 11-2, in the Class A-1 final at the all-weather surface at Williamsville North High School.
The Flames scored in all but one inning in beating their district and league rival for the third time in as many tries this season to earn a spot in Tuesday's overall Section VI Class A final. Williamsville East scored twice in each of the first two innings and all put the Billies in an inescapable hole with a five-run fourth.
"This is great," said sophomore shortstop Christy Mack, who went 1 for 1 with two RBIs, two walks and a run scored. "We're so excited. All of our hard work is finally paying off. We just hope we can take it all the way."
The Flames face Class A-2 champion Olean at 7 p.m. Tuesday to cap a tripleheader of playoff action at North.
The Huskies rallied from an early deficit to defeat Amherst, 6-3, to capture their first sectional title since 2010 and second overall. Williamsville East and Olean met during the regular season in a tournament with the Flames winning 15-0.
That was more than a month ago, as the Huskies (16-5) carry a 10-game winning streak into the rematch.
"I said to the girls before the playoff run started I would hope we'd win the A-2 title and if we had to play a crossover game it'd be fantastic to play Williamsville East again," Olean coach Danny Brooks said, "They put it all together."
Neither the rain nor Williamsville East's opponent proved to be a match on Thursday for the Flames. In a game that was delayed thrice because of rain, Williamsville East stayed the course and did a fine job not letting weather conditions affect its ability field, pitch and hit the ball -- really hard.
Those have been the keys to success all season for Chris Durr's team, and they were again in the biggest game of the season to date.
Senior pitcher Jessica Weaver limited the Billies to just four hits and struck out two as the defense, led by second baseman Rachel Steffan and Mack, made the plays behind her – including a couple web gems from Steffan.
"It's a special win for our kids," Durr said. "When she's making the kids hit the ball we make plays behind her. … We made a lot of plays. Rachel Steffan made two or three outstanding plays today. Christy made some plays, Veronica Zimmerman at third. She's a ground ball pitcher."
Brianna Bucello's ground-rule double scored Zimmerman in the bottom of the first to open the scoring. Mack followed with a sacrifice fly to score Weaver.
It was common sight early for pitchers needing a coach or teammate to wipe off the ball with a towel in an attempt to keep it dry in rainy conditions. Wet weather seemed to give South (13-7) the most trouble during a bottom of the second inning that was stopped twice due to rain. The Flames pushed across two runs on four walks and a hit.
Leading 5-1 heading into the bottom of the fourth, the Flames sent 10 batters to the plate as they scored five times on four hits. Samantha Crane drove in two of those runs with a triple. Maddy Miske and Steffan also drove in runs with singles.
Zimmerman (two runs) and Buccello (two RBIs) each finished 3 for 4, while Weaver went 2 for 4.
Amherst (11-7) took a 1-0 lead in the top of the first on Hannah Bardeen's RBI double. Bardeen went 2 for 3 with two RBIs and a run.
Olean responded in a big way in the home half of the first. Pitcher Alyssa Ramarge (2 for 2) helped her own cause by belting a long home run over the left field fence to tie it. The Huskies took the lead for good two batters later on run-scoring single by Justine Brooks (2 for 4). Brooks' double plated Ramarge in the third to increase the lead to 3-1. Ramarge scored from third on an illegal pitch call in the fifth.
After the Tigers pulled within 4-2 in the top of the sixth, Olean responded with two more runs on RBI singles from Mariah Moses (3 for 4) and Chantel Singleton.
Ramarge struck out seven and scattered five hits in victory.
"I don't think a lot of people thought we belonged," Brooks said. "We're up in A by two students. I think our playoff run speaks for itself. We've played some fantastic teams. … I'm blessed to be their coach. I'm really proud of them."