By Nick Wojton
DUNKIRK – The Portville Panthers and North Collins Eagles came into Saturday’s Far West Regional on historic runs, however, only one season will continue. North Collins topped Elba, 4-1, in Class D softball while Portville was sent packing by Bishop Kearney, 5-4, in Class C.
In Class D, Elba (20-3) came out swinging, loading the bases in the top of the first inning. But from there, North Collins pitcher Rebecca Cyrek (seven innings, seven hits, seven strikeouts) shut down the Lancers, forcing a pop out to the circle and notching her first two strikeouts.
“(Cyrek) likes to be in control,” North Collins head coach Jan Warren said. “She’s not always a strikeout pitcher, but she makes them put the ball in play. That’s what she does.”
That pitching performance led into an offensive outburst in the second, as North Collins (17-5) plated three runs.
Rebecca Holmes (2 for 3, RBI) started the rally with the first of her two doubles, moved to third on an Angela Filkov single and then scored on a Morgan Mathis double. Alexa English’s sacrifice fly scored Filkov and a double by Cyrek scored Mathis. In the third inning, Holmes extended the Eagles’ lead to 4-0 when her double scored Morgan Lawton.
Elba mustered its run in the fifth inning.
“My girls come to play and when they play their game, they’re hard to beat,” Warren said.
With the win, North Collins advances to the final four of the state tournament for the first time.
Bishop Kearney (23-2) flew out of the gate in Class C, scoring two runs in the top of the first inning, but Portville (17-6) did not panic and cut right back into the lead in the bottom of the frame as Bryn Milne singled and scored on a Piper Slocum double to center, cutting the deficit to 2-1.
Portville carried that momentum into the second, taking a 4-2 lead when Jessica Munson smacked a triple to right field with two runners on and scored on a Jillian Hlasnick sacrifice bunt.
“That’s what I’ve been talking about all week; any girl at any time is capable of doing great things,” Portville head coach Bill Torrey said.
However, it was a three-run inning fifth by Kearney that proved the difference. Kearney loaded the bases and Emily Tytler scored on an Ann Heyer ground out. Hannah Lindey knocked in two more runs with a double for a 5-4 lead. Portville couldn't make up the deficit despite putting runners on base in two of the final three innings.
Emily Phelan earned the complete-game win for Kearney, allowing only four hits with nine strikeouts. Sydney Colligan also had a complete game for Portville, allowing seven hits with four strikeouts.
“Very proud of what the girls accomplished, I don’t think anyone at the start of the season would have," envisioned "how it unfolded,” Torrey said.