The Lancaster High School softball team hadn’t gotten this far in 15 years – and it was ended by a hit that probably didn’t travel as far as 15 feet.
As long-time coach Kelly Ambrose said, “That’s softball.”
Victor freshman Emily Power’s infield single proved to be the game-winner in the top of the seventh and the Blue Devils ended the Legends postseason run with a 3-1 win in the Class AA Far West Regional championship game on Saturday afternoon at Williamsville East High School.
“It was a great softball game. Yeah, that ball didn’t travel very far and it was kind of a fluky hit but they had people on base for it,” Ambrose said. “We talked at the beginning about how we don’t want to have any regrets,” Ambrose said. “We want to go out there and play our best game and whatever happens, happens. I thought we did that. It just happened to be that they got that little swinging bunt there and happened to score that run.”
The back-and-forth game was tied entering the decisive final inning and Section V champ Victor loaded the bases with one out. Power’s dribbler towards third was just in the right spot to prevent a play at home and the throw to first was well too late. Paige Phillips followed with a sacrifice fly and an insurance run for the Blue Devils.
Lancaster got a runner on base in the bottom of the seventh but couldn’t muster a season-saving rally. But that couldn’t take away from a strong late-season stretch that saw the Legends win nine of their last 11 and claim their first Section VI championship since 2003.
“No regrets, I’m so proud of what these girls have done,” Ambrose said.
Erin Wong opened the scoring for Victor in the top of the third with a home run. The Legends answered with a rally in the bottom of the third as Erin Colucci drove a double to deep left-center to score Samantha Moll with the tying run. Lancaster eventually loaded the bases in the inning but could not break the tie.
“It’s tough,” Ambrose said. “It’s a great softball team we’re playing against. We had sit where they had bases loaded and we got out of the jam and we had the bases loaded and they got out of the jam. It was just two great teams slugging it out and both teams deserved to be here and an awesome game and credit to them for being a great team.”
Lancaster pitcher Jenna Patterson concluded her career in fine fashion – despite the final outcome. The senior, who has committed to pitch at Niagara University next season, bounced back after taking a hard comebacker off the gut and pitched seven strong, striking out five.
“I can’t say enough about Jenna Patterson,” Ambrose said. “That girl has been the heartbeat of our team and has been for her whole career. I thought she was going to have to come out of the game for sure. But she bounced up … that shows her resilience and her heart. She pitched an outstanding game today.”