CICERO – The West Canada Valley Indians came into their Section 3 Class D final at Gillette Field with plenty of momentum.
The Indians (No. 4 seed) just knocked off top-seeded Poland Saturday in the semifinals. That momentum carried over early into Wednesday’s clash against third-seeded LaFargeville as the Indians scored four runs on four hits in the top of the second inning to grab a 4-0 lead.
However, LaFargeville answered by scoring in every inning after the first and the Indians managed just four more hits over the final five innings as Red Knights freshman pitcher Sarah Johnson stymied West Canada en route to an 8-6 victory. The win was LaFargeville’s first sectional title since they won back-to-back championships in 2005-06. The Red Knights (17-2) play the Section X champion at 5 p.m. Friday in a regional final at SUNY Potsdam.
“We were a little worried when we were down 4-0,” LaFargeville head coach Danielle Shimel said. “The last two games kind of have been back and forth. Our kids are used to battling and we tell the girls to chip away, chip away. … I’m proud of them.”
Erika Wellington had two hits and three RBIs for the Indians, who also received a big game at the plate from freshman Courtney DiTata, who had three hits and a run scored. Jordyn Conte pitched a solid game for West Canada Valley, but untimely errors – five of them total – resulted in six unearned runs.
“I’m proud of our team,” an emotional Wellington said. “We did great this season. It would’ve been better if we won … but that’s the way it is.”
The southpaw Johnson struck out 10 and allowed just four earned runs. Logan Labiendo had two hits and drove home the go-ahead run in the bottom of the sixth with a hard hit ball past West Canada second basemen Victoria Tasovac. Izzy Soluri’s sacrifice fly to center gave the Red Knights a two-run cushion heading to the seventh.
Johnson, who used nice change of speeds and was able to consistently pepper the corners as the game progressed, saved her best stuff to close out the game. Johnson struck out Conte to start the inning. After DiTata singled, Johnson struck out Madison Greco and Bryann Brelinsky to give LaFargeville a long-awaited title.
Trailing 4-0, LaFargeville put up two runs in the second and third innings to tie the game. The Red Knights inched ahead in the fourth as Kendall Klock doubled with one out and scored on Johnson’s groundout to short. Callie Rapant’s RBI single in the fifth gave LaFargeville a 6-4 advantage, but the Indians (18-6) displayed the character that brought them to the title game.
Kristen Nicholson started the Indians’ sixth-inning rally by reaching on an error. She came around to score on Victoria Tasovac’s two-out single to pull West Canada to within 6-5. Tasovac advanced to second as right fielder Kayla Morgan misplayed the ball and Wellington pounced on the opportunity by drilling an RBI single of her own to score Tasovac to knot the game 6-6.
Once again LaFargeville responded and were able to come up with the key plays when they needed them.
“It’s a tough loss,” West Canada Valley head coach Ron Lindsay said. “A sectional game and they played well and we had key mistakes. (Johnson) threw very well against us and hit her spots. We jumped out quick and they got momentum and we could never get it back.”
The Indians graduate just one senior (Stevie Kenzey) and Lindsay’s team should be contenders in Class D for the foreseeable future.
“We have Poland in our league, but we should be competitive. I hope everyone comes back and we do well.”
Section 3 Class D Final
at Gillette Field
LaFargeville 8, West Canada Valley 6
West Canada 040 002 0—6 8 5
LaFargeville 022 112 X—8 10 2
W: Sarah Johnson. L: Jordyn Conte. 2B: WCV, Madison Greco. LaFargeville, Izzy Soluri, Kendall Klock.