Weekly Feature

2016-06-09 / Sports

Depew softball advances to state semifinal round with blowout win

Sports Reporter

Nicole Ross fires the ball to first base for an out early in the Depew softball team’s 11-0 win over Bath-Haverling in the Class B Far West Regionals Friday. 
Photo by Jason NadolinskiPurchase color photos at www.BeeNews.com Nicole Ross fires the ball to first base for an out early in the Depew softball team’s 11-0 win over Bath-Haverling in the Class B Far West Regionals Friday. Photo by Jason NadolinskiPurchase color photos at www.BeeNews.com After a postseason of close calls and walk-off wins, the Depew softball team got a bit of a breather Friday. The Wildcats rolled to an 11-0 win over Section V Bath-Haverling in the Far West Regionals at Niagara Wheatfield.

The team will advance to the state semifinals for the first time in program history.

“A lot of these girls have been in the program for so many years, so the girls that are seniors have played so many big games,” Depew Coach Dan Seelig said. “I’m just so happy for them to be able to play for a state championship. This is a group that can do it if we play our best game.”

The game remained scoreless through the first two innings, but the Wildcats struck in the bottom of the third. The scoring started when Nicole Ross laid down a perfect bunt to score Andrea Taboni. Two batters later, Abby Tomasick smacked a two-run double to move the score to 3-0. After a series of hits and Bath-Haverling defensive miscues, the Wildcats left the inning up 7-0.

“Ross laid down a perfect bunt to squeeze in our first run. It changed the whole momentum,” Seelig said. “It’s nice when you can be aggressive on offense and put some pressure on them to try to squeeze some runners in. The first couple innings, we really didn’t execute on offense. After the third inning, we really started rolling.”

In the fourth inning, Jordan Petyk hit a two-RBI single to increase the Wildcat lead to 9-0. Abby Nicometi topped that in the bottom of the fifth, hitting a solo shot to right field. The defensive miscues continued for the Rams as Depew continued to put girls on base, scoring an 11th run off an Annie DiPirro single.

“As soon as we started getting people on base, they started making mistakes,” Nicometi said. “It definitely affected the plays. They tried to stick with it, but we just kept hitting.”

Karsen Cotton started and finished the game on the mound for Depew. The junior hurler pitched her third shutout of the postseason. She has allowed zero earned runs in four of the five postseason games.

“She’s definitely a major key player on our team,” Nicometi said. “Without her, I don’t know what we would do. When she pitches, there’s no stopping her.”

Cotton, a junior, has been on varsity since seventh grade. In that time, she’s suffered through a litany of losses in the Class B1 and Class B title games, making this run all the more special.

“When we’ve lost in the playoffs in the past, it’s been a horrible heartbreak and we’ve been really upset,” Cotton said. “But our team is so close and we’ve been playing really well so everyone’s just super excited. I feel like it’s amazing. There are no words for it.”

Cotton credits her playoff performances to extra work with her personal pitching coach.

“I get in little slumps sometimes and I’ve been practicing to try and get out of them,” Cotton said. “A couple days ago I had a two-hour pitching lesson to fix all the kinks and make everything go smoothly. I think that’s been helping me. I’ve been working on my change-up, snapping my wrist and not coming forward too much when I’m pitching. It’s been helping a lot.”

Cotton’s performance has been key as the Wildcats played three consecutive one-run games that required walk-off hits before Friday’s game. In fact, the team played consecutive 1-0 games in the Class B1 semifinals and finals before erasing a 5-0 deficit late in the Class B Title Game.

“I want to give credit to all the Class B teams we played in our section,” Seelig said. “Our semifinal came down to a 1-0 game, as did the final game. That last week set us up for today. We had pressure situations all last week. For this to happen the way it did, today was kind of relaxing.”

The Wildcats played solid defense throughout the game, making few mistakes.

“The last couple practices we’ve been saying that if we’re going to go down, I want us to go down hard. I want us fighting for the ball in the infield,” Seelig said. “I really think the girls were playing a little bit more aggressive, trying to attack the ball. I think we’re really understand that if we’re going to win this whole thing, we’re going to go down swinging.”

The Wildcats are in the midst of an eight-day break before taking on Windsor High School (Binghamton area) in the state semifinal game Saturday in South Glens Falls. Seelig will try to keep things as normal as possible in that time.

“As the season keeps on going, you gain a little bit more superstition,” Seelig said. “We’re going to try to stay as normal as we can. We will pick up a scrimmage with somebody. We’ll try to scrimmage on Tuesday or Wednesday. Then we’ll head out to Glen’s Falls on early Friday morning.”

If the Wildcats win, they’d play in the championship game at 4 p.m. that day. Regardless of how the weekend goes, it’s been a dream season for Depew softball.

“The team has been through a lot this year,” Seelig said. “For us to come back from that Eden game when the lights were out in the third inning was huge. I told the girls we can either feel sorry for ourselves or we can keep on competing. We’ve been through it all. This team’s been through tight games, extra-inning games, walk-off games. A little bit of a one-sided game in regionals was pretty fun today.”

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