The Iroquois High School softball team spent a sunny Saturday afternoon in Williamsville making some history.
The Chiefs claimed the first Far West Regional championship in program history, using another dominant pitching performance and clutch hitting from up and down the lineup in a 4-1 win in the Class A title game at Williamsville East High School.
“It’s amazing,” winning pitcher Brooke Plonka said. “We made history today. We worked so hard, it’s a great feeling knowing we accomplished what we wanted to.”
Iroquois will now set its sights on even more history. The Chiefs will play in the New York State Public High Schools Athletic Association final four next weekend in Glens Falls.
I think it’s going to be fun,” sophomore shortstop Kennedy Haberl said. “It’s going to be amazing. I know the seniors are going to play their hearts out and hopefully we can come back with a trophy.”
Iroquois was under .500 last season and lost in the first round of the playoffs. But that didn’t prevent the girls from setting high expectations – and then exceeding them.
“What an amazing feeling,” coach Aaron Vanderlip said. “We had high goals of being sectional champion and now were FWR champs and in the final four in the state, it’s pretty amazing. They worked hard for this and I’m so proud of them.
The star of the show was Plonka again for the Chiefs. She had two hits at the plate but as always, she carried her team from the pitcher’s circle. The senior struck out 13 and scattered four hits in the win.
“What else can you say about her?” Vanderlip said. “She’s a girl that if they get people on base, she can strike people out and get out of it. She’s done it in big moments for us all season long.”
Haberl got Iroquois on the board in the bottom of the third with an RBI double that she thought was going to leave the ballpark. The Chiefs put up two more in the fifth on a sacrifice fly by No. 8 hitter Madison Hoeflich and a wild pitch.
Olivia Simon tacked on an RBI single to right in the sixth.
Meanwhile Mercy loaded the bases in the sixth and seventh against Plonka but couldn’t beat the Iroquois ace. She struck out two to end the sixth-inning scare unscathed and surrendered just a harmless sacrifice fly in the seventh.
“I knew my team was behind me,” Plonka said. “I just had to slow it down and know that one pitch at a time, one matter at a time, we’d get out of it.”
The Chiefs improved to 18-1 with the historic win. Iroquois has now won 17 straight wins and seems ready, willing and able to make some more history.
That is awesome,” Haberl said. “We worked our butts off out there, worked our butts off all year and finally, school history has been made.”