WNY Athletics

Three-peat is sweet for Lady Lancers

For most teams, finishing a regular season at 17-0 and claiming a third straight league title would be a pretty good day’s work.
But for the Lewiston-Porter Lady Lancers softball team it’s just a couple more steps along the path of the ultimate goal: states.
Riley Crum went the distance as Lewiston-Porter beat Kenmore West, 4-1, on Monday to officially cap off its unbeaten season and third consecutive Niagara Frontier League title by going 16-0 in league.
“Before the season started, and every season, we list a bunch of goals that we want to accomplish and as the season goes on we check ’em off. And this is just another one,” said head coach Chris D’Anna, whose club won the title outright for the second year in a row.
“We wanted to be the No.1 seed in A-2, and we got that. We wanted to win the division, and we got that.”
Crum agreed with her coach.
“We definitely just took one game at a time this year and this is just the start of where we want to go this year,” Crum said. “At the beginning of the year our goal was states. This was just the first step. We’ve got a long way to go.”
Crum’s words reveal what might very well be the secret to the Lancers success over these past three seasons. Staying grounded. D’Anna said that the coaching staff has made a point of preaching humbleness as a way of keeping their girls at their best. There is also a pride factor as the Lancers wanted to silence any doubters who may have thought their success has been a fluke or by chance.
“We came in each year saying we’re going to do it again. We did it last year it’s time to prove our point that we can do it again,” said senior Jenna Rhue, who has been part of all three titles. “I do think that their might have been (some doubters) and we proved everybody wrong. We are the team to beat. We went 16-0 this year. There’s a lot of satisfaction in doing this.”
Along with the obvious talent from top to bottom the key factor in the Lancers success was focus. They adopted the one game at a time process and stuck with it no matter. Wins didn’t inflate their egos. Postponements didn’t dull their edge. Double headers didn’t dim their passion. No matter what they stayed the course.
“These girls, they don’t like to lose,” D’Anna said. “And I’ve said it a million times they take it personally and they battle through whatever adversity that comes in front of them.”
With opponents like Niagara-Wheatfield, Ken-West and Grand Island on the league schedule the Lancers knew there was no room for coasting. One mental lapse. One bad play. One bad inning could cost them a win. Winning back-to-back titles also seems to have allowed the Lancers to see the big picture and not get too far ahead of themselves.
“I really think that having the experience from before helps,” said Crum. “And I think having the mind set of take every games one step at a time. Don’t take anyone lightly because anyone can come out and beat us any day.”
Given the number of quality teams in the NFL that simply do not quit speaks to just how impressive Lew-Port’s accomplishment really is.
“I think everybody is a very hard team to beat,” Rhue said. “Grand Island always kept us close and on our toes. I just think a lot of it comes down to small ball. When you get into that box you have to do your job. Everyone on this team has fulfilled their job to get us the win.”
“Before every game Mr. D’Anna comes out and tells us focus on this team,” Crum said. “We can’t take them lightly. Focus on what we need to do and get it done.”
Crum was certainly focused in the fourth inning. The Lancers had a 3-0 lead when the Blue Devils loaded the bases with no out. Crum methodically set down the next three Blue Devil batters-fanning two of them.
“I think Riley is probably one of the best pitchers we’ve ever had in the program,” Rhue said. “I think Riley works her butt off. She’s pitched 11 (complete) games in two weeks and still pulls it out.”
Maggie Waechter scored three times for the Lancers who took full advantage of three Ken-West fielding errors.

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