Eden's softball team made a second consecutive appearance to the Section VI Class B championship game on June 4 against Depew. Photo by Staff Photographer Jeffrey Barnes.
Through the first 16 games of the season, the Lady Raiders have just one loss. And if they had the chance to do it all over again, that one loss would still remain.
Eden captured the ECIC IV softball title with a perfect 12-0 mark before scheduling a game against Orchard Park one day before postseason play on May 21.
The Lady Quakers escaped with a 2-0 victory to hand Eden its only loss of the spring.
That’s exactly how the Raiders wanted the end of their regular season to play out.
“I think the loss to Orchard Park was good because that was our chance to lose,” said senior Abby Waldorf. “Now if we lose, we’re done. So that was it.”
Waldorf and her Raiders knew that they were in store for a successful spring after capturing the Section VI title this time last year.
Aside from the loss, their 2-1 victory over Alden that ended their league schedule and the 4-2 win in extra innings at Cleveland Hill that began it were the only other competitive contests the Raiders have played in this spring.
Coach’s Marissa Fallacaro and Ed Murray knew that their ball club would need to see some stiff competition if they wanted to make another postseason run.
“We just saw some very quality pitching, which we hadn’t seen in almost two weeks minus the Alden,” Fallacaro said about playing against Molly Hennessy and Kaylee Jeutsch from Orchard Park.
“We saw a pitcher who we’ve never seen before, which happens in the playoffs. Quality pitching and we got to work on our defense. Not only do they have great pitching, but they are able to hit the ball.”
Orchard Park’s duo on the mound almost led the Quakers to a Class AA finals appearance, falling to Clarence in the semifinals, 3-2.
Eden has its own two-headed monster in the circle, and thanks to the challenge that the Quakers presented one day before the playoffs began, the Raiders’ duo have led them to a second straight championship game appearance.
Top-seeded Depew was set to play Eden in a rematch of last year’s Class B1 game on June 4 at Niagara-Wheatfield.
The Raiders have won three straight games since the showdown against Orchard Park, led by Carley Nasca and Jill Murray on the mound.
Earning the second-seed in the Class B playoffs, Eden got a bye in the first round before defeated No. 15 Newfane, 7-2, in round two on May 22. The pair shared the circle as Murray retired nine batters and Nasca threw six strikeouts while adding a hit and an RBI.
Sabrina Kraska and Kelly Staub each went 2-for-3 with an RBI.
“Kelly Staub has come back from surgery on fire,” Fallacaro said about her shortstop, who was sidelined for almost a month. “She is hitting with great power. I moved her up to number two in the lineup. She came back great.”
On May 27, Eden continued its dominance with a 4-1 win over No. 10 Olean.
Murray threw 12 strikeouts while Nasca tallied two RBI and a home run. Molly Brier also connected on a home run, while Kraska went 3-for-3 and Staub added a hit with a run scored.
The Raiders earned their spot in the title game with a 11-0 triumph over No. 11 Royalton-Hartland in the semifinals
Murray and Mallory Mecca each hit home runs while Nasca struck out 10 batters on the other end.
“I felt pretty good that game. I didn’t feel awesome, but I felt pretty good,” said Nasca, who pitched a perfect game earlier this spring. “I think we hit really well. I’ve never seen our team hit like that. We’re really coming through.”
Fallacaro pointed out players such as Mecca and Kraska stepping up at the plate this postseason, while the players have noticed how involved everyone has become as the season extends.
“Everyone was so pumped,” said Nasca. “There was so much energy on the bench. We’ve had this energy all season, but it’s all coming together.”
Eden dropped Depew, 6-5, in the Class B1 finals last year before falling to Falconer in the crossover title game for the right to play for in the Far West Regional.
With the realignment of the softball classes, Class B1 and B2 are combined into Class B as a while this postseason.
The shift put Eden and Depew one game away from a regional title game appearance on June 6 for the chance to play in the state tournament.
After falling short last year, the Raiders are ready.
“We’ve improved from last year skill-wise and record-wise, and not only that, but we’re so much closer this year,” said Waldorf. “So it’s been more than a softball experience, but a family experience, too.”