GLEN PARK That old cliché of playing to the final out is something Nikki Maier and Kayla Gaffney have bought into.
The General Brown shortstop and third baseman collided hard trying to secure the final out but Gaffney made the catch, the last of several great fielding plays by the freshman. Gaffney helped the fourth-seeded Lions to a 6-1 victory over No. 5 Altmar-Parish-Williamstown in the Section 3 Class B softball quarterfinals on a cold and cloudy Saturday at Brownville Elementary.
Maier lay on the field for about five minutes afterward, but eventually walked off, allowing the Lions a delayed victory celebration.
General Brown coach Darrin Pitkin said that both players escaped without injury, though Maier took a painful cleat to the back.
That last out we say, Who wants to make it? Pitkin said. And they were both trying to make it. I cant knock down aggressiveness. I just want to make sure both girls are all right because we need them for next week.
General Brown improved to 18-4 and will play the winner of Mondays game between top-seeded Solvay (17-0) and No. 9 Cazenovia (12-8) in the semifinals, scheduled for Wednesday at a neutral site to be determined.
Junior ace Katie Pitkin gave up six hits, one walk and an unearned run while striking out nine the complete-game victory. She launched a solo home run to deep right field with two outs in the fourth inning to tie the game at one run apiece.
Pitkin quickly ripped the first pitch she saw in the at-bat.
I was just looking to go up there and hit the ball and it was a good pitch, it looked nice, said Katie Pitkin, who also singled.
I was thinking (crossing the plate) that its a totally new game now and we have a chance at it. It was really our game to win now, she added.
Chelsea VanTassel, a seventh-grader, came through with two outs in the next inning with a bases-clearing triple that put the Lions up 4-1.
I just felt the rush and that need, we needed the hit, VanTassel said.
The Rebels, who ended their final season in the Frontier League with a 15-5 record, committed two errors in the fifth that helped load up the bases for VanTassel.
An A-P-W throwing error in the sixth led to eighth-grader Hannah Smithers coming around to score on her RBI double, giving General Brown a 6-1 lead.
In that (fifth) inning we had a couple costly errors that loaded the bases and they got a good poke to right, that was the big turnaround, A-P-W coach Peggy Bennett said.
That killed us. With a good team in sectionals you cant have as many errors as we did, she added.
A-P-W starter Tori Stanton struck out six and walked none, allowing five earned runs on nine hits. The senior also singled in her final high school start.
Junior Erin Stever singled twice and drove in the lone run in the third inning for the Rebels, who advanced to the sectional final last season. They will return to the Onondaga League in all sports this fall.
Maier singled twice and Deleha Decker also singled for the Lions.
This is what this team has done all year, we get into big games and we never know whos going to be the big hitter, Darrin Pitkin said. Weve had surprises all year long and I think thats whats good about it. I can count on every girl that comes up to bat to come through for us.