No sport hangs out the welcome sign quite like softball.
Public schools, Catholic schools, Nichols, Immaculata – they’re all there competing nearly every weekend in tournaments that give tremendous insight into who’s got game.
Saturday’s 16th annual Depew Wildcat Tournament featured a field of 16 teams battling it out at Lancaster’s Walden Ponds. Clarence and Hamburg were the big winners there.
Another field of 16 embraced the inaugural Gerry Gentner “Just Show Up” Tournament, making parking spots at the Northtowns Center scarce. Clarence and Starpoint took the top spots. The 11th Immaculata Tournament is another biggie scheduled for May 11-12.
If teams weren’t sure how good Starpoint is, they know now after their showing at the Gentner. The Spartans are 10-0 overall and lead ECIC II at 3-0. Allison Block’s 4-0 record includes a no-hitter in Myrtle Beach. Ashley Owens is 6-0 on the mound and batting .387. Brianna Clark and Emily Whitman are the team leaders in most offensive categories. Clark is coming off an all-star season.
Frontier’s got some talent and it reached the final in its respective brackets at the Wildcat and Gentner. The Falcons’ Sarah Cuillo will play for Fredonia next year. She was named all-tournament at the Gentner, along with teammate Courtney Courtade. Jill Fleming is taking her talents to Pitt-Bradford. Fleming and Melissa Woods are three-year starters.
Hamburg returns All-WNY pitcher Bridget Hogan, who has signed with Niagara University. Coach Lisa Palma described Hogan as “a rock on this team.” Sarah Mertowski has been Hogan’s catcher for three years. Kailee Ramaekers is coming off an all-star season in the outfield.
Lancaster was a Gentner finalist, losing to Clarence in extra innings. It returned the favor in its first ECIC I meeting last week. The Redskins have also celebrated the program’s 500th win, when they beat Williamsville North, 6-5, in an eight-inning thriller.
Catcher Emily Bagley (LeMoyne) and second baseman Bethany Wedmore (Ohio Valley University) have signed national letters of intent. Bagley has not allowed a stolen base and is hitting .394 while Wedmore is at .323.
But it’s sophomore center fielder Julia Sortisio who leads the Redskins in hitting with a .424 average. Another sophomore outfielder, Olivia Jankowski, is hitting .371. She plays right field.
Four pitchers have started for Lancaster this season. Senior Breanna Opera splits pitching/first base duties with senior captain Hannah Turek (.343 average).
After years of club volleyball and travel softball, Opera has decided to play volleyball in college, signing with St. Francis, Pa. She was an All-WNY Coaches large school pick last fall in volleyball. She also strongly considered offers from seven other Division I schools, including UB and Niagara.
Sacred Heart looks to defend its Monsignor Martin Association title led by Kelly Farrell, who has signed with St. Bonaventure. Farrell also played on the Sharks’ championship basketball team and excelled in volleyball. Maria Gabriele was named All-Catholic last year as a freshman.
Also grabbing All-Catholic honors were: Elizabeth Bourne and Lizzy Viola of Nichols, Frankie Costanzo and Karah Burlow of Niagara Catholic and Rachel Ziarnowski of Holy Angels. Ziarnowski was also recognized as first team All-WNY after batting .521.
Costanzo, a catcher, has signed with Mercyhurst. She is a two-time All-Catholic pick and was first team all-state in Class D.
Nichols’ (3-1) only league loss is to Sacred Heart. Senior SS Ashley Lyman is 10 of 17 at the plate for a .588 average with 10 RBIs. The roster is dotted with four-year starters, all in the infield: 1B Pearl Guerin, 2B Morgan McDermott and Lyman.
ECIC III leader Depew (9-2, 6-0) has a 27-game league winning streak. Its last league loss was to Cheektowaga in 2011. Last year’s Class B-1 finalist has been lead by P/OF Lauren Yaskow and 2B Chelsea Buono.
Dunkirk boasts returning All-WNY SS and reigning CCAA I Player of the Year Khee Nance, who is coming off a .580 season. Returning league all-star Kelsey Drummond, who has signed with Mercyhurst North East, returns to the mound after offseason ACL surgery. 2B/P Joyce Bomasuto has signed with Monroe CC. All three, along with Lacey Clarke, are four-year starters. Clarke has signed to play basketball at Jamestown CC.
Fredonia is off to a 6-1 start, led by five-year starter senior Karly Schwertfager and two-time league all-star Alicia Deering. Three-year starting pitcher Baylee Tarnoski (5-1) has 40 Ks in 36 innings with no walks. Bre Dahn is another three-year starter who has 14 RBIs in six games.
Maryvale eighth grader Jackie Zwicker drove in nine runs in her first four games. Junior Jamie Michalewski leads the team with a .583 average and senior Caryn Duman is 3-1 on the mound while batting .400.
Five-year starter and three-year all-star Kristi Zink has Cassadaga Valley off to a 3-0 start in CCAA II. She is one of four players hitting over .450, along with Ashley Carroll, Jessie Burch and Kelsie Brown.
Lew-Port’s starting catcher since eighth grade, Theresa Fleckenstein, has signed with Niagara University. She’s off to a .455 start behind the plate.
One of Fleckenstein’s future teammates will be Ziarnowski of Holy Angels, another signee of the Purple Eagles.
Versatile 3B Toni Polk has started her sophomore season hitting .556 in the league for Niagara Falls. She’s been a three-sport athlete since eighth grade. First-year Wolverines coach Martha Amoretti was an All-America honorable mention for ECC in 1987.
Kenmore East 3B Jess Hyland has eight RBIs in five games, and C Gabby Johns has thrown out three base runners trying to steal.
JFK senior Kayla Williams, a two-time ECIC IV all-star, has 10 RBIs in her first four games.
Cheektowaga can credit its 5-1 start in part to Danielle Szymkowiak, a returning ECIC III all-star who can be found at SS, C or CF. Allison Nestico has moved from 1B to the mound where she is 5-1 with 62 Ks in 42 IP.
Lockport’s Allie Cavagnaro, a four-year scholar-athlete, has played every position in her five-year career except for 1B and P.
North Collins’ Jessica Lawton has a 6-1 record gets support offensively from junior Nicole Torrey (.615) and Christine Blidy, who has a grand slam. Lawton can change speeds, paint the corners and keeps runners off base. The Eagles are coming off a 17-5 campaign and look to return to the sectional final.
Alden’s best includes 3B/P Kathy Odrobina and P/OF Haley Panek, who are batting over .400 after nine games, and C Lauren Kocher, MVP of the recent Alexander Tournament.
Maple Grove senior Lauren Nickerson has been the CCAA III MVP the past three years. The fifth-year starter has signed with Mercyhurst North East.
Hutch-Tech INF/P Kayla Hahn has signed with Division II Mansfield. Earlier this month Hahn pitched a one-hitter against City Honors, winning, 3-1, in what was the Centaurs’ first loss to a City opponent since 2001. Hahn was All-WNY honorable mention in 2012 after striking out 128 in 113 innings.
Kim Fox is the new coach at Tonawanda, taking over for longtime mentor Jay Hall, winner of 237 games in a 26-year career. Fox was Hall’s JV coach the past three years. Hall retired in 2012 after 35 years with the Tonawanda Recreation Department. He is an assistant coach at Hilbert College, where his youngest daughter, Elissa, plays as a sophomore.
Junior Gabby Lewis is hitting .571 after six games for first-year West Seneca East coach Rich Mattison. Senior leadership can come from only one source as Alyssa Gates is the lone 12th grader on the roster.
West Seneca West is led by senior P Tori Dzaak, who will attend Hilbert. The Indians look to the future with SS Adriana Lis and catcher Lu Krawczyk, both sophomores.
Lackawanna’s talent includes returning ECIC IV all-star Nicole Sorrentino, who is headed to Mercyhurst Northeast, senior OF Katie Buczek and sophomore P Melissa Stewart (3-1, 30 Ks).
Current CCAA II leader Frewsburg is the two-time defending champion of Class C and has advanced to the state final four both years. Look for the success to continue as the Bears lost only one starter. Sam Mott has been the starting pitcher since eighth grade and she hits for power, evidenced by her three home runs and four triples.
Sarah McMahon has done her part on the mound for Williamsville North, averaging 9.4 Ks per game with a 0.96 ERA. She hopes to walk on at Iona University. Lindsey Kenyon is a two-time ECIC I all star who is ticketed to play at Denison University in Ohio.
Williamsville East 1B/P Sam Weaver is heading off to a career at Edinboro. The Flames’ sophomore SS Sara Armstrong has a strong arm and junior CF Laura Finley is batting at a .425 clip.
Cattaraugus/Little Valley’s Sara Crandall returns as the CCAA II Player of the Year. On the mound she has 50K in 32 IP. She’s just as dangerous at the plate, batting .533.
Eden freshman Jill Murray has won three of her four starts while 3B Haley Kobie and 1B Kelly Staub are among the team leaders in RBIs.
CLASS AA: Clarence beat III-Cicero North Syracuse, 3-1, in last year’s state final.
CLASS A: Hamburg lost to III-Jamesville DeWitt, 2-1, in the state semifinals.
CLASS B: Cleveland Hill won Section VI.
CLASS C: Frewsburg lost to Greene, 3-2, in the state semifinal
CLASS D: Forestville won Section VI.
CATHOLICS: Sacred Heart beat Nardin, 4-1.