There was a celebratory cookie cake for the Williamsville East softball team Wednesday afternoon after captain Veronica Zimmerman signed her National Letter of Intent.
Whether it was served as a pre-game meal or a post-game incentive, the dessert seemed to have worked for the Flames as they defeated the Starpoint Spartans 11-2 in an ECIC II matchup later that afternoon.
Zimmerman will continue her academic and softball career at Niagara University.
“We’re very proud of (Zimmerman),” Williamsville East coach Chris Durr said. “She’s been a key player for us for four years so we’re really happy that she’s going to make that step to the next level. We’re glad she’s playing locally so we can watch her.”
To make the day extra special Will East finally christened their brand-new turf field, after having their games canceled on Monday and Tuesday.
Junior Racheal Steffan led the way going two for five with two RBIs, a home run and a stolen base.
Steffan’s career day forever etched her in the Williamsville East record book as she hit a three-run inside the park homer in the first inning.
“Bigger for her is that she ripped it to right-center,” Durr said of Steffan, who is a lefty. “She doesn’t hit a ton to right field. It was a big start for us to get the 3-0 lead.”
Starpoint got its first run in the third when Alexis Briggs brought home Hailey Lucas.
The Flames added three more runs in the bottom of the third. Senior Madison Kozlowski started the inning off with a hit. She later came home on a sacrifice ground ball from freshman Summer Clark. Junior Cara Leone drove home Steffan and classmate Christy Mack on a triple putting Will East ahead 7-1.
In the fifth inning, a couple of defensive errors cost the Spartans more runs. Mack and Clark started the inning off with singles. Leone hit a ground ball and the throw to first base was off the mark allowing Mack to get home.
A fly out from Maddy Miske allowed Clark to score. On the next at-bat, junior Grace Pogorzala hit a ground ball that was mishandled and Leone scored to make 11-1.
A Lucas hit in the top of the sixth drove in Tori Angelo for Starpoint.
“It was up and down,” Spartans head coach Joseph Hill said. “We didn’t get hits with runners in scoring position. (Will East) cashed in on their opportunities.”
“I expect us to have a lot more runs,” Hill said of his team going forward. “We’re a good defensive team. It’s going to come down to pitching.”
Leone was solid on the bump for the Flames giving up one earned run and throwing eight strikeouts in seven innings.
Williamsville East knows they will have a target on their back this year after making it all the way to the state final last season.
Durr knows it will be a tough climb to get back there.
“We didn’t expect to go to states last year,” Durr said. “As much as we would like to say that we want to get back there, we’ve talked about how difficult that that is. We’re not going to look too far ahead.”
Both teams will be in action with league games on Friday at 4:45 p.m. Will East will head to West Seneca East and Starpoint travels to Hamburg.
Below: Steffan and Zimmerman after the win