ALLEGANY — Just like it had in its first two games of the District 2 Little League all-star playoffs, the Ellicottville/Cattaraugus-Little Valley softball team (ages 10-12) needed just four innings to clinch a return to the Section 1 West tournament.
ECLV scored multiple runs in each inning, including four in the second, to build a 10-0 lead through four against Cuba in the finals of the double-elimination district playoffs Thursday, activating the 10-run rule to end the game. The victors needed just three hits to score their 10 runs, taking advantage of walks and errors with aggressive baserunning to support pitcher Lauren Frascella.
“If we can get on base, I want them stealing, I want them capitalizing on it,” ECLV manager Dawn Rowland said. “Softball, being aggressive on the bases is really, really important because you take every run you can get. Some games are close, some games are blowouts, but I want them to learn the game and by learning to steal, learning to be aggressive, learning to force bad throws, they get better. I don't care if they get thrown out: I tell them to steal, that's what I want.”
ECLV advances to the Section 1 West tourney starting Saturday in Fredonia against other district champions from Western New York.
Frascella struck out nine of the 12 outs she recorded, allowing one hit — a leadoff double by Cuba’s Naveah Ross — with two walks and two hit batters.
Rowland credited a strong pitcher-catcher battery of Frascella and Allison Rowland and defense behind them for the team’s dominant run through the district playoffs.
“Pitching and catching has been pretty strong,” she said. “We really have to get our bats going, but I think today they did well, they're coming along and our fielding has been pretty good too. Definitely, our defense.
“She's comfortable on the mound,” Rowland added of Frascella. “I like it. She has a lot of confidence. Allison and her have clicked very well. Allison is not her normal catcher; Allison actually (for) the first time ever caught in the first game. She's only three games in as a catcher and she's coming along very nicely. I'm very impressed, and they've clicked, they get along well and having that mojo between catcher and pitcher is pretty important.”
Frascella also went 2-for-3 and Dakota Familo hit an RBI single for ECLV. Familo, Jaida Mendell and Allison Rowland scored two runs each.
Cuba pitcher Mariayah Irvine struck out five.
Unbeaten ECLV handed Cuba both of its losses in the tournament.
ECLV finished second in the district last year, falling to Friendship in the finals, with five members returning to the 2018 all-star squad. In total, ECLV has won six district titles including two runs to win the sectional championship, which earn a trip to states.
"That's our hope," Rowland said of the sectional title. "We'll see. I have no idea what to expect, and I'm now going to be a nervous wreck still."