ELLICOTTVILLE — Ellicottville/Cattaraugus-Little Valley retained its crown in the District 2 10-12-year-old softball championship, but not without a few scares from Fillmore on Tuesday night.
Fillmore twice took a lead over the defending district champions, 4-2 after three innings and 8-5 after four, but ultimately ECLV rallied with a six-run top of the sixth and held on later in the inning for a 13-8 victory. ECLV finished the double-elimination tournament 3-0 and won its second consecutive district title and fifth in the last six years.
ECLV advances to the Section 1 West Tournament, starting on Saturday at home in Ellicottville.
Courtney Marsh went 3-for-5 to lead ECLV batters, driving in two runs. Jaida Mendell went 2-for-2, walked three times, drove in three runs, scored twice and stole two bases.
Ande Northrup went 2-for-3 and scored three runs while Emmylu Carls (two walks, stolen base) and Hailey Rzucek marked a hit and an RBI each.
For Fillmore, Hannah Southwick went 3-for-4 with an RBI, stolen base and two runs scored. She also struck out 10 batters in the pitchers’ circle.
"We didn't have any gray hair when this game started," ECLV assistant coach Kevin Andrews quipped about the back-and-forth contest.
"In fact, we're only 25," head coach Jeff Horth added.
But jokes aside, Horth, who last coached the 10-12 all-stars in 2015, said he didn’t worry about his team as it trailed Fillmore on Tuesday.
“No, because this team doesn't quit, ever. It doesn't matter,” Horth said. “As long as there's one out to play with, they play. So I wasn't really worried. I thought we could hit (Southwick). She threw hard, she threw good, but we got them to move back in the box and by the third time around they were all hitting the ball.”
Also for Fillmore, Jenna Hill went 3-for-4 with a double and a run. Hannah James (two runs), Morgan Yackeren and Abby Sullivan (double) had two hits each.
After getting two runs back from a three-run deficit in the fifth, ECLV broke through and took the lead for good in the sixth on four hits, two walks and a hit batter.
“She's a good pitcher,” Horth added. “She's got to be tired, she pitched every inning of every game this tournament and three of them went the distance.
“I think she might have been tiring a little bit, I mean she had to be. Like I said, my girls won't quit. They're going to swing the bat. When you swing the bat, things happen.”
Northrup had one strikeout in a complete game for ECLV and did not issue a walk. She earned the win in all three of ECLV’s District 2 games, two starts and one relief appearance.
“My defense was A-plus,” Horth noted. “My pitching was incredible. She doesn't walk anybody ever. I think this whole tournament she walked three or four batters, tops. She throws strikes, lets the defense play.”