SANBORN — Wednesday’s Section VI softball championships began with Clarence authoring a typically dominant performance to win its third straight title in Class AA. Eden then won an expectedly close Class B final with Depew, thanks in large part to an big performance from sophomore Jill Murray.
The third game of the evening at Niagara-Wheatfield’s softball complex was not the most aesthetically pleasing for more than 6½ innings, as Starpoint built a 4-0 lead on Williamsville South in the Class A final.
Then something amazing happened.
Williamsville South, which remained in that 4-0 hole until there were two outs in the bottom of the seventh, and twice were down to their last strike, then put together the unlikeliest of rallies, one that was capped off with a walk-off, three-run home run by senior Brianna Clark as the Billies won the Class A title with a 6-4 victory.
“We can’t believe it,” said Clark, who stepped to the plate with runners on first and second and South trailing, 4-3. “I think I was more relaxed because the momentum was on our side. When I saw that pitch, I just didn’t even think. I just swung. I didn’t even know it went over until I rounded first.”
South’s storybook win is part of a storybook season for the Billies. This year it won its first ECIC II championship since 14-year coach Gerry Gentner’s death from cancer in January 2012. Now coached by Gentner’s daughter, former assistant Julie Murphy, South on Wednesday won its first sectional title since 2007, when Gentner’s program won its fifth straight.
“When there were two outs, I kind of looked up,” Murphy said. “My last sectional final with the girls was with him … it was a tough day, but he certainly got us through it. It was special.
“These girls are incredible. They’re such a special group, and they’ve shown why. We’ve come back like this three or four times during the season.”
Clarence, which got a great pitching performance from senior Katrina Buczkowski (12 strikeouts) and a three-run homer by senior Corrie Colf in a clinical 8-0 victory over Williamsville North in the Class AA final, will face Brockport at 4 p.m. Friday.
Eden will play Wayland-Cohocton in the Class B game at 5 p.m. The program earned its first berth in the state tournament since 1994 with a 2-1 victory over Depew in which Murray starred at the plate and in the pitching circle.
Williamsville South will play Geneva in the Class A regional at 4 p.m. Friday, something that appeared highly unlikely late Wednesday evening.
Starpoint scored two unearned runs in the top of the sixth on an overthrow to first. The Spartans then added two insurance runs in the top of the seventh on a squeeze bunt and a sharp RBI single by junior Allison Block. Block had seven strikeouts in the circle, the last of which put South down to its last out in a four-run hole.
Junior Aimee Lavere then delivered a deep double, and senior Morgan Maley drove her in with a single. Emily Martin and Maddie Clark reached on errors that plated Maley and Martin to make it a 4-3 Starpoint lead. Stephanie Tirone then singled, putting two on for Clark.
“We just kept collecting hits, and we were all just pumped up,” said Clark. “It’s just so surreal. Once Aimee got that bomb, I knew we were going to come back.”
Clarence, the season-long No. 1 large school in the coaches poll, beat ECIC I rival Williamsville North for the third time this season as Buczkowski had a two-hit shutout that was supported by Colf’s three-run blast in the third inning as well as two hits and an RBI from senior Mo Harris.
“This is what we’ve been working up to,” said Buczkowski. “It was a great game all-around. Our goal is now regionals. We’re not thinking about states, we’re just thinking about Brockport.”
Eden’s Murray and Depew freshman Karsen Cotton engaged in an expected pitcher’s duel. Murray helped create both of the Raiders’ runs with two doubles that reached the outfield fence, one which caromed back onto the field off the yellow lining at the top of the wall.
Murray’s first double was in the fourth, and she would eventually score on a wild pitch. She also doubled in the sixth. She was erased on a fielder’s choice, but sophomore Haley Kobie was hit by a pitch, advanced on a single by junior Carly Nasca and scored on another wild pitch.
Depew cut the lead to 2-1 in the sixth after senior Chelsea Buono led off with a triple and scored on a fielder’s choice. The Wildcats had a chance to tie it in the bottom of the seventh when senior Brooke Guay tripled with two outs, but a squeeze bunt attempt was popped behind the plate, where it was nabbed by catcher Sabrina Kraska.