DUNKIRK - The fans on hand at Promenschenkel Field on Thursday evening were treated to a thrilling end to the Chautauqua County Senior All-Star Classic.
Southwestern's Kristen Lata dropped an RBI single into right field to plate fellow Lady Trojan Sarah Graham and cap a three-run seventh inning as the South team walked off with a 3-2 victory.
"We were certainly able to put a good product on the field," event coordinator Tim Cowan said. "Every facet of the game was on display. Dominant pitching for stretches, clutch hitting, solid defense - it was a very high quality of softball."
Abbey Pajersky of Jamestown makes contact for the South team in Thursday’s Chautauqua County Senior All-Star Classic. Below, Southwestern’s Hannah Johnson gets ready to throw to first base.
Photos by Sean Pecuch
Dunkirk's Aldyn Carlson had been virtually unhittable for the North team until the seventh inning. She struck out nine and allowed just two hits over the first six innings en route to being named the North team's most valuable player.
"It's fun as a coach," North coach Joe Pucciarelli (Fredonia) said. "We see our girls all the time, but this gives us a chance to see what else is out there."
The South team started its rally with one out in the seventh when Paige Burnett (Maple Grove) hit a ground ball to the right side of the infield. Pitcher, second baseman and first baseman all converged on the ball, but no one covered first as Burnett reached on a single.
Karlie Johnson (Chautauqua Lake) followed with a double to put two runners in scoring position before Graham's single to right plated Burnett and Johnson.
Graham was named the South team's most valuable player for her timely hit.
Lata's hit ended the game and the high school careers of the 21 seniors who participated.
The North team opened the scoring in the top of the second inning on an RBI single from Julia Palmer (Brocton). Taylor Lloyd (Panama), who had singled, scored from second on the hit.
Falconer's Shelby Overturf pitched shutout ball for the South team after that. She pitched six innings, struck out nine and walked one.
The only other run the North managed was an unearned run against Chautauqua Lake's Kris Merritt in the top of the seventh.
Rachel Risley (Brocton) led off with a single. She advanced to second on a grounder to first, then went to third on another groundout to the right side. Alayna Carlson (Dunkirk) struck out on a pitch in the dirt, but the ball bounced to the backstop, allowing Carlson to reach first and Risley to come home with the North's second run.
The 2-0 deficit didn't faze the South team at all as it stormed back in the bottom half of the inning.
As the game ended, athletes from Southwestern and Falconer celebrated together. Girls in Dunkirk maroon and Fredonia orange talked and laughed with one another. One last chance to play softball before graduation united even the most bitter of rivals.
"With Facebook and the Internet and everything, they're friends," Pucciarelli added. "They're cordial and friendly once the games end."
Cowan was grateful for a beautiful night, entertaining softball and a great facility.
"Dunkirk was a great host," he said. "We'd like to thank the mayor and the common council who approved it...Hopefully we'll be back here again next year."