Falcons can't muster timely hits, fall to Lancaster
By David Yarger
On Tuesday evening, the Niagara-Wheatfield Falcons strolled into Williamsville East High School with one thing on their mind: winning a Class AA Section VI title. Unfortunately, the Falcons were halted by No. 5 Lancaster, as the Legends defeated N-W, 7-5.
It just wasn't the Falcons' day, as the team made several errors and offensively couldn't come through with runners in scoring position; unlike the Falcons play much of the season.
After getting out of a jam in the first inning, the Falcons couldn't get anything going offensively, as they left runners on second and third base with one out.
In the second inning, the Legends scored three times on four hits.
The Falcons had a chance to get on the board in the bottom half of the second, after Jordyn Smith tripled to leadoff. The next three batters were retired easily.
After the Legends scored another run in the third, the Falcons offense received a jolt after Mackenzie Franks hit a three-run home run over the left field fence to make it 4-3, Lancaster. Franks finished 2-4 with three RBIs and a run scored.
Lancaster answered the home run with two more runs in the fourth inning off two errors.
The Falcons scored once again in the bottom half, as Carly Milleville got on base via a fielding error. Her sister, Mikaela, drove her in two batters later with an RBI double.
The Falcons cut the lead to 6-5 after Carly tripled to lead off the sixth and then, once again, Mikaela drove her in with a base hit.
The Legends scored one more time in the seventh on a sacrifice fly, which was caught by centerfielder Madison Evarts on a full extension dive.
The Falcons had a chance to make noise in the bottom of the seventh, as Smith started a two-out rally with a single. N-W eventually loaded the bases, but a strikeout ended the game and the season.
For the Falcons, Mikaela Milleville went 3-4 with a run and two RBIs, Smith went 3-3 and was on base all four plate appearances and Carly Milleville finished 1-3 with two runs scored.
The Falcons left 10 runners on base and coach Melanie Proefrock said it came back to bite.
"Sometimes softball, especially at this point of the season when you have two good teams squaring off against each other, it's about timely hits and unfortunately, we got some, but we didn't get enough. ... I felt confidence in our offense top to bottom and, yeah, we stranded some runners that could've been a game changer for us," Proefrock said.
Proefrock added the Falcons didn't play their smoothest game defensively and made some poor decisions throwing the ball around.
After the game, Proefrock delivered a heartfelt message to the team and appreciated everything about the season.
"I thanked them for the memories," Proefrock said. "When we coach and we work with a group all season long, we're real big on stressing they're all around players and this big picture type of team. They chose this year to adopt a little girl that is quite ill and so we thanked her for coming out today - she's been out biggest supporter. ... We didn't get the win we wanted today, but we came away with memories and team work and hard work and a lot of life lessons."
Proefrock said she talked to the four seniors - Taylor Benton, Alaina Bailey, Carly and Mikaela Milleville - following the game and she showed her praise for the quartet.
"We have great seniors," Proefrock said. "We thanked them for the time and effort they put into our program. They came up through JV and we wanted to win one for them this year and we made them a promise that next year, although they'll be on the sidelines cheering for us, we're gonna have at it again and give it another run in honor of them and their hard work."
Proefrock was still in good spirits for next year, as the team will return 11 underclassmen. She added, "We see them more than just the three months a year where we're technically in softball. ... We're certainly going to reload next year."