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FALCONER – Falconers first-year softball coach Sadie Stuart knows what it feels like. The last time the Golden Falcons won a section title was in 2011 – Stuart’s senior season as a player.
Fast forward to 2021; Many things have changed. Due to COVID, there is no state tournament. And five senior Falconers graduated hours after their Section VI Class C Championship game against Portville on Thursday at Ernie Strickland Field.
But, oh, what a day. The seeded Golden Falcons had 20 hits in a 13-3 win over No.2 Portville.
“I wish this group had this run (at the New York State Public High School Athletic Association Spring Championships), of course,” said Stuart.
“But, at the same time, it’s a nice and clean ending,” Stuart added. âIt’s something they should be proud of forever. I told them it’s not something everyone gets in their softball career; this year, this team, this situation, not everyone has this feeling.
It was clear it meant something more – after shortstop Tess Spangenburg shot the ball at first base Emily Melquist for the final putout – when the team converged on pitcher Ashton Beckerink in the pitching circle. .
“We are a unit” Falconer’s eldest Macy Youngberg said after the game, fighting back tears. âEveryone is doing everything they can for the team.
Including hitting the ball hard.
Falconer (14-2) was the seed at the top of the sections and entered the Championship game with a comeback victory on Tuesday against Westfield. The Falcons had four consecutive hits to beat Westfield 4-3 in the bottom of the seventh.
The bats continued to roll two days later.
Portville (16-2) – on a 16-game winning streak – scored the first goal when senior captain Felecia Capito unleashed a line shot into the sideline at center-left for an inside home run of the park.
With no outfield fencing at Ernie Strickland Field, outfielders were running around.
Kayla Lynn’s double with two outs and two runs put Falconer on the board in the second inning. Macy Youngberg and Spangenburg added some tough singles and the Falcons led 4-1.
Portville’s Faith Capito and Mia Hlasnick started off the top of the third with back-to-back home runs in the sideline at center-left.
Trailing 4-3, a single from Brook DeYoe chased Lynn, Falconer’s starting pitcher. With Beckerink in relief, an online double play against Melquist initially got Falconer off the hook. A set earlier, the Panthers had goals loaded and no outs when they struck in a double play from Nicole Youngberg in the third to catch Beckerink at Melquist early.
Falconer had six runs on the board in the bottom of the third on seven hits, topped by a three-run homerun from Spangenburg. Melquist scored a sixth of three points for the icing on the cake.
Beckerink has scattered four hits over the past five innings, and after a shaky start, Falconer’s defense was sparkling. Portville did not strike out in the game, but two double plays, a center dive from Courtnee Peterson and hooked line orders from Lynn and Melquist highlighted the glove work.
Offensively, Falconer only struck out one strike on strikes. Macy Youngberg had four hits; Peterson and Ashley Pierce three each; and Lynn, Nicole Youngberg, Spangenburg and Melquist all had two hits each.
“I was told when I first arrived that they were a great group, and they turned out to be an even better group than I was told … as people”, said Stuart. âI knew they were talented, but they came together as human beings and as friends. Because of COVID and everything, one of our first practices was exactly two months ago, and I didn’t know some of their names. I made them do exercises and made them say their names before I left. We have grown so much from the end of April to the last few days. It’s all down to who they are as people, and I couldn’t ask for more than that. “