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Bailey’s 3 RBIs help guide N-W to 11th league win
By David Yarger
The last time the Niagara-Wheatfield Falcons softball team played Kenmore West, the team witnessed the Blue Devils celebrate on their own turf after an impressive comeback victory.
Friday night, the Falcons were seeking revenge and got it, as N-W defeated Ken-West, 8-4.
The win came on senior night, as the Falcons honored seven of them – Maddie Evarts, Mackenzie Franks, Maddie Kwitchoff, Mackenzie Quider, Abby Metzger, Katie Kostiw and Sydney Crangle. Although it was the seniors’ day to shine, junior Jenna Bailey got the Falcons offense rolling.
In the top of the first inning, West scored three times off four hits and two Falcons errors. More runs were avoided, as catcher Nikki Kwiatkowski turned a home-to-first double play with the bases loaded.
In the bottom of the first inning, after singles by Corin Loughrey, Quider and Elanna Lysiak, Bailey came through with a two-run single up the middle to shorten the Blue Devils lead to 3-2.
West was held in check offensively in the second inning. Defensively, Blue Devils pitcher Lydia Serrano got out of a one out, bases loaded jam with a groundball back to the circle to get the force at home, then a strike out.
In the third frame, N-W tied it at 3. Lysiak reached first base on an error, then stole second base. The next batter, Bailey, roped another single to center to score Lysiak.
In the fourth inning, West added its fourth run to break the tie, as Anna Roulley singled to drive home Olivia Foggler-Leffler. The RBI made it, 4-3, Blue Devils.
In the bottom of the frame, Wheatfield took the lead for good.
Evarts singled and stole second base. Loughrey singled to move her to third, then a Franks squeeze bunt scored a sprinting Evarts to tie things at 4. With one out, Lysiak grounded out to score Loughrey and give N-W its first lead of the day, 5-4. Although, she didn’t receive an RBI for this plate appearance, Bailey reached via an error to score Franks and make the score 6-4. Kwiatkowski singled a few pitches later to score Bailey from second, and that made it 7-4.
From there, Quider was nearly perfect in the circle, and helped herself out with a little insurance offensively.
In the bottom half of the fifth inning, Franks doubled off the fence in left-centerfield with two outs. The next batter, Quider, then singled into right-center, scoring Franks to extend the lead, 8-4.
In the circle, Quider pitched one-two-three innings in the fifth and sixth innings, and avoided all trouble in the seventh to seal the Falcons’ 11th league victory.
For the Falcons, offensively, the team slugged 14 hits. One through six in the lineup (Evarts, Loughrey, Franks, Quider, Lysiak and Bailey) all had two hits on the game. Bailey finished with three RBIs, while Franks, Kwiatkowski, Lysiak and Quider all drove in a run apiece.
In the circle, Quider went the distance – seven innings with three strikeouts. After the first inning, the senior captain allowed three hits.
For the Blue Devils, Serrano was 1-3 with a double and two RBIs, while Rachel Valente went 2-4 with a run scored. In the circle, Serrano struck out six Falcons.
The first time the two teams played, N-W was up 6-0, before West scratched and clawed back for an 8-7 victory. To get revenge on the first loss was a positive Falcons coach Jim Proefrock said.
“It was great. I’m very happy it came on such a nice day acknowledging our seniors. I’m really happy for them and I think we’re a good team and I think the result was right today,” Proefrock said. “We gave up a few runs in the first inning there and we rebounded real nicely, so I was happy about that.”
After starting sluggish in the first inning, Proefrock made a visit to the mound to talk to his girls. He also said the bad memories of the last outing versus West didn’t come to mind.
“No, when I went out there, I just told them, ‘We’re playing uptight, and that’s not us. We got to relax and play loose and have fun,’ because that’s what’s gotten us to this point, so far. They did, and they settled in and I’m glad they did what they did,” he said.
Proefrock praised Bailey and his underclassmen following the game and was pleased to get good output from his younger players.
“It’s great. They’re all coming together and they’re all doing what they have to do. It’s a deep lineup for us, so I’m happy we can contribute from top to bottom,” Proefrock said.
The Falcons are playing a lot of softball in a short period of time. Since the loss at West, the girls have won four straight games. N-W defeated North Tonawanda, Thursday night, and continue action on Saturday and Sunday.
With heavy precipitation throughout the spring, it has loaded the final days of the regular season with rescheduled games. To play so much in so little time, all while battling the task of playing seven innings game in and game out, Proefrock said it shows how “mentally tough” the team is.
“They overcome injuries and soreness and ailments – and (with) playing on the road all the time (due to field conditions at N-W) – they’ve done that all in stride and I can’t give them enough credit for just going with it and not making any excuses or expecting any explanations,” Preofrock said.
The Falcons will finish a suspended game versus Grand Island at 9 a.m. Saturday. Following that, the team will play the Vikings once again. Both games will be played at Niagara Falls High School. Additionally, on Sunday, the Falcons finish the regular season at 10 a.m. at Lockport.
Prior to the Falcons' contest versus Kenmore West, the team honored its seven seniors: Maddie Evarts, Mackenzie Franks, Maddie Kwitchoff, Mackenzie Quider, Abby Metzger, Katie Kostiw and Sydney Crangle.
Each senior announced a teacher that has been an inspiration to them before being announced. Seniors then walked onto the field with family members and underclassmen shared some emotional and funny remarks regarding their upperclassmen teammates.
The following are pictures of the seven seniors and their family from Friday's ceremony.
Franks and freshman Elanna Lysiak share an emotional embrace Friday.
Niagara-Wheatfield's seven seniors stand in front of their numbers painted on the field.