Megan Giese entered a playoff game in a challenging predicament. But the junior pitcher on the Orchard Park softball team ended the game on her terms.
Giese’s solo home run in the bottom of the ninth inning lifted Orchard Park to a 6-5 win against Williamsville North for the Section VI Class AA championship Monday at Williamsville East.
“I saw it coming in,” Giese said. “It was right down the middle, and I turned on the gun and I got a good piece of it.”
The Quakers won their third Section VI Class AA championship since 2016. Orchard Park will play Victor, the Section V champion, in a Far West Regional at 11:30 a.m. Saturday at SUNY Brockport.
Giese’s home run ended a game in which she relieved Orchard Park starting pitcher Elisabeth Lis with one out in the seventh and runners on second and third base. Williamsville North third baseman Allie Macon hit Giese's first pitch, a double that drove in Gabby Manzella and Anna Brand to give the Spartans a 5-4 lead.
“The first pitch, with Megan Giese throwing heat, (Macon) just takes it to right center and delivers an astounding two-run double,” Williamsville North coach Michelle Switzer said. “Just awesome. It set the tone for us and gave us life.”
But the Quakers loaded the bases in the bottom of the seventh, and a walk by Williamsville North pitcher Sarah Parzych brought in the tying run for Orchard Park with two outs.
“We got a little unlucky with some calls in the end, there, that allowed them to score a run and tie it up, and then we get into extra innings, and, well, the rest is kind of history,” Switzer said.
Williamsville North took a 2-0 lead in the top of the first when pinch runner Alyssa Bessel and Danielle Stefanie – on base after a pair of errors by Orchard Park – scored on a passed ball.
Giese’s double drove in Jaden Swiatek and cut Williamsville North’s lead to 2-1 in the bottom of the first, and Orchard Park took a 3-2 lead in the bottom of the second on Lis’ sacrifice fly that drove in Abby Torgerson. A fielding error by the Spartans allowed Ella Stewart to score.
With the bases loaded in the top of the fourth, Manzella’s singled in Bessel to tie the game 3-3.
Orchard Park took a 4-3 lead in the bottom of the sixth on Loren Castilloux’s inside-the-park home run, but the Spartans took the lead in the top of the seventh on Macon’s two-run double off Giese.
“I wasn’t sure how the rest of the inning was going to go,” Giese said. “Then, I kept pitching it inside, and they weren’t touching it, so I was pretty confident after that.”
However, Parzych walked Castilloux in the bottom of the seventh, which scored Sydney Bielicki from third for the tying run and sent the game to extra innings.
"Going into extra innings, we were just trying to get someone on base, so that we could move them over and hopefully knock them in," Switzer said. "That was really our go-to, is trying to get someone on base. Megan Giese, when she came in, she was throwing heat, so it was tough for us to catch up to it. It was tough for us to get anybody on."
Williamsville North didn't put a runner on base in the eighth or ninth innings. With one out in the ninth, Giese’s home run over the centerfield fence put Orchard Park into the Far West Regional.
“That’s the fun of it,” Giese said. “You can’t wait for that. These games are what we look forward to, all year, and when that happened, we knew we were going to come back, and we had confidence in ourselves and in our teammates. So, we were ready to go.”