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Nestico sets strikeout mark during Warriors’ big softball season

Allison Nestico should be in the Cheektowaga softball record books for many years to come.

Central’s senior pitcher broke a 25-year-old single season record for strikeouts last Friday, and with a handful of games remaining, by the time Nestico is done, she may claim the record for at least another 25 seasons. That is, if it can ever be broken.

The magic number, set by Robin Ladowski in 1988, was 86 strikeouts. On May 3, Nestico went into Depew with 84. She finished the game with three strikeouts — just enough to break a record she had no idea she was close to.

“I didn’t know until after the game,” said Nestico, who spent most of her time at first base last season. “All the parents knew, but I had no idea. I knew after every game how many I had, but I never totaled them up. I honestly didn’t even know [the school kept track of] that record.”

“I didn’t want her to get wrapped up in thinking about that,” head coach Aaron Vanderlip added. “I wanted to make sure that we were concentrating on what we needed to take care of in the game. I didn’t want that to be a distraction. But I did let her parents know.”

Nestico, unknowingly, went into Depew needing only two to tie the record. She ended the game with three.

After not translating what the acknowledgment meant from the opposing coach, Nestico found out about her historic season at the same time as all of her teammates.

“We were shaking hands [with Depew] and their coach said ‘congratulations on your strikeouts,’” Nestico recalled. “I didn’t know what he was talking about. But when we were in the huddle, (coach) Vanderlip got a different ball from his backpack, gave it to me and said that I had broken the school record for strikeouts in a season. I was really confused.”

Vanderlip noticed Nestico’s chances of cracking the mark just three games into the season, after she was practically halfway there with 37 strikeouts, including 15 in the season opener against Springville.

“It was bittersweet because we had just lost (to division champs Depew) and I knew we wouldn’t be able to win the division,” said Nestico. “But at the same time, I’m like ‘I don’t want to be sad. This is a pretty big accomplishment.’ So I felt bad for being happy after we lost.”

The southpaw distanced herself from the previous mark even further on Wednesday, when Nestico became the first Lady Warrior in program history to eclipse the century mark in her senior game versus Amherst.

She finished the game with nine strikeouts, bringing her season total up to 105 with four games left in the regular season. And the further she gets into the playoffs, the larger her mark will become.

Before the year began, the girls were hoping for a .500 season. But Cheektowaga has actually wound up in a race for the division title.

Now as the season comes to a close, and with two of their toughest competitors in the league in Class B — Maryvale moving down for this year’s playoffs and Depew the defending “B-1” champion — making a deep postseason run in “A” is very possible.

“[Our success] is definitely not what I expected,” said Nestico, whose Lady Warriors are now two games behind Depew for first place. “We’re doing a lot better than everyone expected.

We’re in the same position as we were in last year now,” she added. “Our only two league losses are to Depew and we have the rest of the season to finish out, so I think this should put us in a good spot for playoffs and hopefully we can go far.”

Having been a part of Cheektowaga Central athletics for four decades now, Vanderlip believes there is no one more deserving of the new mark than Nestico.

“Does that mean there’s not anyone else coming through, I don’t know,” Vanderlip said. “But right now in our program, no. She’s definitely a strikeout pitcher. She gets quite a bit during a game. I don’t see (anyone like her) right now with what we have in the program, so (her record) is going to be safe for a little bit.”


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