Junior catcher Sabrina Kraska caught the 21st out of the Section VI final to defeat Depew for the second year in a row. Photo by Staff Photographer Jeffrey Barnes.
When Eden and Depew met at Sunshine Park in the Class B1 final last season, the Lady Raiders ran away with a one-run victory, but not before the Wildcats made them sweat as the tying run remained stranded on third base.
If Eden wanted another sectional championship, Marissa Fallacaro’s softball team would have to find their way out of the exact same situation at Niagara-Wheatfield on June 4.
Brooke Guay kept Depew’s hopes alive when she tripled into center field with two down in the bottom of the seventh inning, but the next batter’s suicide bunt attempt didn’t stand a chance.
The ball popped into the air on contact, leaving plenty of time for Sabrina Kraska to get under it in foul territory to help No. 2 Eden capture the Section VI Class B title in a 2-1 triumph over top-seeded Depew.
“It was Déjà vu,” said Fallacaro, who has now won consecutive sectional titles, winning a 6-5 contest over Depew last year. “I kept thinking back to last year’s game. Last year we had the lead, and then they came back, and Jill [Murray] struck out the second and the third, so we went out and tackled her.”
Kraska was the one being tackled this time around. The junior catcher knew what was coming on Depew’s final at bat and caught the 21st out beside her dugout, where she was immediately greeted by her gleeful teammates and coaching staff.
“I knew [coach Ed Murray] was going to call it a high pitch, so I figured it was going to be a pop up to either me, Kelley [Staub] or Hayley [Kobie] at third,” Kraska said. “I knew I couldn’t let anything behind me so I figured if it popped up, I’d catch it.”
Murray, Eden’s sophomore pitcher, went 2-for-3 with two doubles and scored the game’s first run in the fourth inning when she scrambled home on a wild pitch. She also threw a complete game and struck out four batters while allowing just four hits in the win.
Carley Nasca went 2-for-3 as well, Jenny Morrow singled and Kobie collected Eden’s other hit and scored the game-winning run on a passed ball.
On the same passed ball, Nasca, who came all the way from first, almost scored a third run for Eden. Instead, she was called out at the plate right behind Kobie on a controversial call where it seemed as if Nicole Ross’ tag attempt was out of reach by a hair.
Ross had one of Depew’s four hits. Guay and Chelsea Buono each tripled for the Wildcats, the latter of whom was batted in by freshman Karsen Cotton at the bottom of six on a sacrifice hit to pull within one.
Cotton worked a walk, recorded a single and struck out four in a complete game for Depew.
"Both teams have great pitchers and there were very minimal opportunities to do anything,” said Depew head coach Dan Seelig, who made his fifth straight sectional title game appearance, falling in the last four. “When you get your opportunities, which were very few, you need to find a way to come through, and we didn't.”
Eden won the B1 title as the sixth-seed in 2013, but grabbed the second slot this spring with a 12-1 overall record, winning all 12 league games for the ECIC IV crown.
“It was great,” said Murray, who started against Depew in last year’s sectional final. “Knowing that we just kept on winning our games, we could definitely win these games.”
The realignment in the softball classes converged Class B1 and Class B2 into just a single Class B bracket this season, which gives the Raiders - who fell to Falconer in the Class B crossover game last year - their first trip to the regional round since 1994.
Eden will meet Section V’s Wayland-Cohocton at Niagara-Wheatfield on June 6 in the Far West Regionals for a spot in the New York State Public High School Athletic Association tournament.
Eden’s softball program has never made a trip to states.