BY DAVE RICCI firstname.lastname@example.org
The Tonawanda News
Tonawanda News — Hearts racing. Hands clinched. People holding their breath. This is what a rivalry is supposed to be about.
Senior Adriana King laid off an inside fastball to draw a bases loaded walk in the bottom of the seventh inning to score Abby Borkowski, as Kenmore West won a 1-0 heart stopper over Kenmore East in NFL softball action that was played at the Kenmore West Athletic Complex on Friday.
Borkowski drew a leadoff walk to start the Blue Devils (2-0) rally. From there, Ashlynn Kaczmarek (fielder's choice) and Grace Ferguson (singled) reached base.
Sitting on a full count with one out, King said she was able to shut out the outside noise of the fans and players as she focused on the delivery from Bulldogs pitcher Courtney Creasey, who fired the ball just a shade out of the strike zone.
“To be honest with you I was kind of hoping it'd hit me,” King joked after the game. “It was really far inside so I was like 'oh, this ball is gonna hit me. I'm going to go to first.' I'm already a pretty selective hitter as it is, so I knew I was gonna wait in there until the very last second.”
King resisted the natural urge of wanting to tear the cover off the ball and calmly waited for her pitch. Blue Devils coach Matt Chimera spoke highly of King's focus at the plate.
“She was patient,” said Chimera. “When she came to the plate I said just be patient and get the one you want. She waited and it worked out.”
For the second day in a row, the Blue Devils received key contributions from underclassmen as Borkowski, an eighth grader, not only scored the winning room but also gave her team something to build on when she broke up Creasey's no-hit bid in the fifth with a single down the third base line.
Despite taking the loss, Creasey gave the 'Dogs (0-3 NFL, 1-3) a chance to win. After taking her lumps in a loss to Niagara Falls on Thursday, Creasey rebounded with a solid outing. She located her pitches well and worked the inside part of the plate. She struck out five while yielding three hits and three walks as she went the distance. East coach Chris Robey said the combination of how well Creasey threw and the play of everyone in the field showed this team is improving.
“Court pitched an awesome game,” said Robey. “Everyone in the field played awesome. They put the ball in play. They put all the pressure on them. It just didn't work out today.”
Charlotte Miller picked up her second win of the season for the Blue Devils as she struck out 10 and scattered five hits over her complete game effort. Miller was at her best in the second inning when she struck out the side after Allison Johnson's leadoff double.
“Charlotte was just outstanding again,” said Chimera. “But I think we overlook Brianna (Christopher) behind the plate. In a nothing-nothing game there are a so many pitches that if they get by (Christopher)...Char threw a lot of drop balls. She got a lot of strike outs on drop balls. If you don't have a good catcher who's solid back there it could get ugly.”
After beating Lockport 10-0 the day before, the Blue Devils agreed that winning a game that went down to the wire was just as important for their young players to experience.
“I'm hoping that this win, especially for the younger girls, shows that we can't take anything for granted,” King said. “That just because you win by five or 10 the previous day that doesn't mean the next day is going to be any easier. I hope that they grow from this and learn that you have to play every game like it's a new day.”
Kenmore East's Chelsea Masich singled in the seventh with one out, but the Bulldogs were unable to push her across the plate.
The boys' edition of East/West is scheduled for today, at Parker Field beginning at 2 p.m. Tonight's inclement weather could result in game being switched to Kenmore West.
All four teams will meet again in the annual under-the-light doubleheader at Sheridan Park on May 16.