(V) Bradford 4 (VI) Franklinville O
Sports history was made in the Southern Tier on Friday night (June 3) as a crafty lefty from Bradford fashioned a perfect game in the Far West Class “D” Regional softball match-up in Scio, sending the Lady Braves to the state’s final four in Glens Falls on Saturday for a chance to win it all !! Southpaw senior Sammi English was speaking plainly when her 10 strikeout, no walk, gem said it all ! A week prior, English fired a complete game 1-hitter with 17 K’s & walked one in stunning Notre Dame-Batavia in the Section V Class “D” State Qualifier in Livonia. On this date with destiny, this senior’s effort was superb! Downright masterful if you ask me. Sammi isn’t one of those “power pitchers” who’s going to throw the ball right by you all the time….but despite that initial thought….she still strikes hitters out (more than) regularly. She does throw hard enough to surprise most hitters, but the real key is her “movement” & “location” of her pitches. On Friday night she had “perfect” command of her stuff…to say the least. (No pun intended!). After facing only 23 hitters (2 over the limit) in the Notre Dame game as she yielded one walk & one hit in that one….in this one only 21 came to the plate & all 21 went back to the dugout without reaching base!
As with any no-hitter, or in this case…”perfect game” there are always some “anxious moments”or “close calls” . Both of those moments occurred in Franklinville’s final at bat in the top of the 7th. Panthers’ lead-off hitter Raine Pfeiffer hit the hardest ball of the night when she drilled a sinking liner at the shortstop, Ally Wagner’s feet. It looked like it could be one of those “tricky, in-between one-hoppers”, but Wagner lunged forward & picked the ball off in the air from her shoe-tops for the first out. The final out also caused some “gray hair” for baseball “perfectionists” when the opposing pitcher Ally Haskell hit one off the end of the bat that first baseman Rhiannon Machuga ranged toward 2nd for. The ball glanced off the end of her glove, but with “perfect” back-up position was 2nd sacker Destiny Decker who quickly picked the ball up & flipped it back to Machuga at first about a half-step ahead of the runner for the final out ( a 3-4-3 put-out) ….& then the celebration was on! The Lady Braves had plenty to celebrate with the victory….plus a trip to the “final four”…& a “perfect game” by their super-star pitcher!
The game was basically “pitcher dominated”. One of the interesting “stories within the story ” was Franklinville sophomore hurler Ally Haskell who was hurt diving back into first base in one of the Panthers’ last games against North Collins. The pitcher’s shoulder was so sore that the “windmill” pitcher was not able to make that full-range of motion & was forced to pitch their Class “D” title game (a 5-3 win over Pine Valley) with just a “sling-shot” motion. The elder Haskell (her sister, Dani is their 8th grade catcher) went to work rehabilitating the arm over the last week. Judging by the velocity in the Bradford game, you’d never known anything had ever happened.
Both hurlers were masterful over the first 3 1/2 innings…as there was only one base-runner to that point & that was a 2 out single by Bradford’s Kirsta Sleve in the 3rd. The Braves would break through & get all they would need for their “ace” to work with, in the bottom of the 4th inning. With one out Desiny Decker worked out a walk on a 3-2 pitch. Maria Antonio came in to “courtesy run” at first. Rachel Bonning followed by stroking a 1-0 pitch to right field for a single putting runners on the corners with just one out. Cambri Harrian came on to run at first to put more speed on the basepaths for coach Kim Driskell’s club. That move would prove to be insightful when with 2 outs, sophomore center-fielder Emily Wagner lifted a shot over the opposing center fielder’s head for a double that would chase home both baserunners making it 2-0 in favor of the blue & gold! The pitchers “did their thing” again until the bottom of the 6th when the Braves doubled their lead with a pair of insurance runs. Destiny Decker again got things going as she drew a lead-off walk on a full count pitch. Rachel Bonning ripped a double in the alley in right center field putting runners at 2nd & 3rd with nobody out! After a miserably failed bunt was popped up to the infield, Emily Wagner had another shot at performing some more magic with the stick. Wagner would wave the “magic wand” on the 1-2 pitch, sending a single to right field that drove in both runners that would set the stage for the 4-0 final. Sammi English & her teammates got the job done in the 7th, as they had all night long as the Braves indeed had a LOT to celebrate!
Bradford (18-4) saw Sammi Engish face the minimum without giving up a baserunner in a “perfect” pitching performance with 10 K’s…she also was 1-3 at the plate. Offensively for the Braves…Destiny Decker, Rachel Bonning, Maria Antonio, & Cambri Harrian each scored a run. Bonning would go 2-3 on the night with a double….Emily Wagner was 2-3 with a double & drove in all 4 Bradford runs! Kirsta Sleve added a hit for the winners. Franklinville (17-4) pitcher Ally Haskell deserved a better fate as she pitched 6 strong innings giving up 4 runs, all earned, on 6 hits while fanning 9 & walking 2 as the Panthers’ season came to a screeching halt in Allegany County. Bradford’s win sends them to the Class “D” final four in Glens Falls on Saturday June 11th for games at 9am (state semi), & 1pm ( state finals). Best of luck Lady Braves !