SANBORN — For the past two years, Niagara Wheatfield’s season came just one step short of advancing to a Section VI championship, both times at the hands of eventual champion Williamsville East.
Now, it will have a chance at a rematch and hope it brings a Section VI title to Sanborn for the first time since hoisting the Class AA crown in 2011.
With a grand slam from freshman lead-off hitter Lindsay Tylec as the exclamation point of an eight-run first inning, the top-seeded Falcons hit their way back to the title game as they cruised past No. 4 West Seneca West, 17-1, in Class A1 semifinal action Monday.
The victory now advances the Falcons to the Class A1 final at 5:30 p.m. Wednesday at Depew High School.
Head coach Kevin Schucker said breaking through to the final was “an awesome feeling” and that the team came out aggressive at the plate, which included two home runs and a 14-hit outing.
“We came out with our bats,” said Schucker, whose Falcons also won their third Niagara Frontier League in four years this spring. “The greatest thing about this team is they’re loose, but they’re focused. They’re hungry. They’re humble. They’re ready for the challenge.”
After having its first three batters reach base, Niagara Wheatfield (18-2) junior Julia Kwitchoff brought Tylec home on an RBI single followed by a couple sacrifice fly-outs to give the Falcons a 3-0 lead. The Falcons then loaded the bases again and made it through the top of the order before Tylec delivered the big four-run blast over the centerfield wall.
One of five players in underclassmen in Schucker’s starting lineup, Tylec said having the chance to deliver in the lead-off position is a big responsibility, including providing the spark by drawing the walk in Niagara Wheatfield’s opening at-bat.
“I was lucky enough to get on base because I know everyone is a good hitter on the team and they could get me in,” Tylec said. “So that’s what I’ve always looked for when I’m at the plate.”
The scoring spree continued in the bottom of the second as the Falcons tacked on six more runs. Kwitchoff delivered a solo home run and sophomore Gianna Graber had a two-out, two-run double to give the Falcons a double-digit lead.
Graber also threw the first five innings of the game, allowing only one run on seven hits and striking out four batters.
“I love pitching for this team,” Graber said. “And I know even if somebody does get a piece (of the ball), I know my defense is just going to back me up, whatsoever.”
West Seneca West finished the season 9-11.
In other Greater Niagara Region sectional softball action:
Niagara Falls 4, Lancaster 3 (9 innings)
The third-seeded Wolverines used their bats down the stretch as Lilliana Frantz brought home Emilia Marra on a walk-off single to beat the No. 6 Legends and advance to Wednesday’s Class AA semifinal.
Niagara Falls (12-4): Junior pitcher Ava White pitched all nine innings for the Wolverines and struck out nine batters. Emilia Marra and Bella Maynard hit a double apiece. Niagara Falls travels to Clarence at 5 p.m.
Lancaster (5-11): Frankie Morris and Ella Park recorded two hits apiece for the Legends in their season finale.
Barker 4, Forestville 2
Freshman Peyton Bradley recorded her 200th career strikeout as part of a 12-strikeout outing and had a RBI double at the plate as the No. 2 Raiders advanced to the Class D semifinals with a win over the No. 7 Hornets on Monday.
Barker (15-5): Natalie Brandel went 3 for 3 at the plate with a RBI double, Kaylee Stoll had a RBI single and Anna Bowerman had an RBI triple. Barker will now host No. 6 Sherman / Clymer in the Class D semifinals at 5 p.m. Wednesday at Barker High School.
Forestville (10-7): Senior Madison Sliwinski had a two-run double in the top of the sixth while junior Aspen VanArsdale recorded two hits.
Clarence 3, Lockport 1
Junior Ella Harrison threw a complete game and struck out 16 batters to send the No. 2 Red Devils past the seventh-seeded Lions in the Class AA quarterfinals.
Clarence (12-6): Lauren Holley, Madelyn Ferriter and Makenzie Crawford all provided a spark for Clarence by scoring one run apiece.
Lockport (6-12): Eighth grader Rielly Haenle scored the Lions’ lone run off a wild pitch while senior Brianna Delaney went 2 for 3 at the plate and stole two bases. Delaney also pitched six innings and allowed one earned run on four hits along with three strikeouts.
Williamsville South 4, Grand Island 3
The second-seeded Billies used three runs in the bottom of the first to top No. 3 Grand Island in the Class A2 semifinals, in what was a sectional championship game rematch.
Williamsville South (12-7): Stats for the Billies were not available. The Billies will now face No. 1 West Seneca East in the A2 final at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday at Depew.
Grand Island (14-7): In what was her final appearance as a Vikings, senior Izzy Pezdek threw six innings and was credited for allowing three of Will South’s four runs on six hits and struck out two batters. The Buffalo State commit also went 3 for 4 at the plate. Teammates Hanna
Simpson, Anna Kurtzhalts and Natalie Kopf all had an RBI apiece.
Williamsville East 11, North Tonawanda 0
For the seventh consecutive season, the second-seeded Flames will return to the Class A1 final, this time behind a shutout victory against the No. 3 Lumberjacks.
Williamsville East (15-4): Sophomore Abby Weolowski hit a home run and Elise Elwood went 3 for 3 and scored three runs of her own at the plate.
North Tonawanda (14-6): Freshmen duo Cara Thompson and Addison D’Andrea went 1 for 2 at the plate while Ella Marshall started on the mound for the Lumberjacks.
Silver Creek 22, Wilson 2
A three-run home run from Amber Lockwood and a complete game, 15 strike-out from Kaylee Hutchinson helped the Black Knights win a Class C quarterfinal game.
Silver Creek (13-5): Eighth-grader Kyla Ziegler had 3 hits while Hutchinson and Lockwood had two hits apiece. No. 6 Silver Creek will now host No. 7 Gowanda in the Class C semifinals at 5 p.m. Wednesday.
Wilson (8-7): In what was her lone hit of the day, freshman Abbie Faery brought in both runs on a single. Older sister Rian and seventh-grader Lucy Madan recorded a hit apiece.