WNY Athletics

Lady Blue Devils open new field with a “W”

Lady Blue Devils coach Matt Chimera always tells his girls the game is never over in the first inning.

Those words once again rang true on Wednesday afternoon.

Abby Borkowski threw seven strong innings and Lydia Serrano hit the first home run on the new complex, as Kenmore West christened its new turf field with a 5-4 win over the Grand Island Vikings in Niagara Frontier League softball action.

“Oh my God I feel great,” Serrano said with a smile. “That was such good game. We pulled together. I’m ecstatic. This is our year. I think we’ve all been trained to know the game’s not over til its over. Til that last play. Til that last out is done. The game’s not over til its over.”

Serrano drove in an Emma Richard fastball over the center field fence to tie the game at 2-2 in the bottom of the first. Hitting the first home run on the new field was special, but Serrano said getting that win is what mattered most.

“I don’t even know,” Serrano said, as she described her home run. “I really was just choking up on the bat and thought oh I’ve got to get this bat on the ball. We’re down one. I’ve got to get on. I swung and got lucky, I guess.”

But the defining moment of the game came in the bottom of the sixth as, with the score knotted at 4-4, Frankie Mercado (two runs) drew a two-out walk with nobody on. Mercado stole second, lost sight of the ball that was overthrown into center field. She hesitated for a split-second, then broke for third base, slipping in just ahead of the ball.

“I couldn’t see it because the ball was behind me so I kind of turned around. And with turning around my hair got caught in the way,” Mercado said with a smirk. “So I wasn’t really sure where the ball was, but I knew coach Chimera was yelling go to three! So I just did it.”

Mercado’s heads-up base running put her in scoring position for Borkowski, who drove Mercado in with a single.

Mercado was also solid in the field as she made her first start at second base, taking over for four-year starter Allie Chimera. The loss of Chimera is a big one for the Blue Devils because how much of the defense for the last four seasons, from run downs to defending against the steal, ran through Chimera. Mercado proved that she is up to the challenge and ready to make the job her own.

“Allie is one of my best friends and she definitely made this position hers. I’ve got some big shoes to fill,” said Mercado. “I’m trying to work on everything. Dynamics (of the position) step-by-step.”

The Vikings opened up a 2-0 lead thanks to runs scored by Erin Cool and Chloe McQuestion, but Ken West would scrape back in the bottom of the inning with Borkowski getting their first run.

For the Vikings, it was tough to see a pair of two-run leads fade away. But as a whole head coach Cheryl O’Connor felt she saw some good things and still firmly believes that they are a solid contender in the NFL.

“Couple misplayed balls, which I attribute to not getting enough reps outside,” O’Connor said. “Because when you get outfield reps in a gym it’s hard to get those game scenarios. I think we’re a (contender). We’re gonna be up there fighting for the top.”

Grand Island took a 4-2 lead in the top of the fifth, but as they did in the opening frame, the Blue Devils responded with two runs of their own.

The win also showed that the Blue Devils had surprisingly a little more depth than they may have even expected as they were without starting center fielder Rachel Valente (ankle injury) and starting first baseman Syd McIntosh who was unable to play due to a school trip to Greece.

Most of all it spoke to their resolve to get the win.

Borkowski (2-for-4) struck out four, while GI’s Richard fanned six batters. Cool scored twice for GI.

The news wasn’t as good for Ken-West on the baseball diamond as Grand Island beat the Blue Devils 5-2 in the first official game on the new turf baseball diamond.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *