No. 12 Falconer upsets No. 4 Fredonia; game under protest

No. 12 Falconer (15-4) scored two runs in the first, sixth and seventh innings as they upset No. 4 Fredonia (16-2), 6-1, during Section 6 Class B quarterfinal softball action Tuesday, at Fredonia High School.

“They were relaxed, there was no pressure and I told them Fredonia’s supposed to beat us, they’re the higher seed,” Falconer head coach Dan Morales said. “And to just go out and have fun and play the game. And that’s what they did.”

The Lady Golden Falcons’ two runs in the first inning proved to be all starting pitcher Abby Courtney needed as she went the distance, allowed a run on five hits, struck out five and walked four.

“I think she hit her spots excellently,” Morales said. “Her placement was perfect and a lot of (Fredonia’s batters) were crowding the plate and she was putting it on the inside and jammed them a little bit.”

Fredonia’s Baylee Tarnowski got Jenna Fellows to fly out to center to start the game, but Brianna McFall reached base on a walk, stole second base and scored on a single by Kaylei Russell, who later came around on a single off the bat of Courtney.

“We’re the ones that took advantage of having our first (at-bat)” Morales said. “Our top of the lineup is solid and they went ahead and did their job. And it was key, because we were never trailing from that point on.”

The Lady Hillbillies cut the Lady Golden Falcons’ lead in half in the bottom of the first after Cassie Essek walked with one out, moved to second on a wild pitch and scored on a run-scoring single by Alicia Deering.

“She did a good job of mixing in her changeup,” Pucciarelli said of Courtney. “She didn’t throw too many for strikes, but she mixed it in enough to keep us off balance.”

Tarnowski singled with two outs to keep the first alive for Fredonia, but Caitlyn Cybart flew out to the pitcher to end the threat.

“We got away from what I was preaching all year and that was to hit the ball hard on the ground,” Pucciarelli said. “If (we try to) hit the ball on the ground, line drives will come off of that.”

Fredonia’s only other real scoring threat came in the bottom of the second inning. With one out, Morgan Genovese singled, stole second and moved to third after a pair of two-out walks to Mekenna Leid and Essek loaded the bases. However, Deering flew out to left field to end the inning.

“The big one was the one with the bases loaded,” Pucciarelli said. “Alicia got a hold of it pretty good, but it just found a glove.”

Falconer’s two runs in the top of the sixth salted the game away, but they did not come without some controversy.

Molly Arrance singled and Fellows reached on an error, before McFall singled to load the bases. Then, Russell was called out on an infield fly. However, the base umpire did not call the play verbally, rather signaled the call by raising his arm. On the play, Leid dropped the fly ball and Arrance scored.

“I saw the base umpire had his hand up,” Morales said. “I think (Fredonia’s) argument was (the umpire) didn’t say anything, because (Leid) is making a play. It’s unfortunate that it had to happen, but I think if you take that out of the situation, we’re still going to end up with a victory.”

“If I’m umpiring, I’m calling that right away,” Pucciarelli added of the infield fly rule. “I mean (Leid) turned her back on it because the infield was up at the time. I thought it was the right call, but I think it still has to be a verbal call. It’s under protest and we’ll check into it. In high school, you’ve got to be demonstrative a little bit. You’ve got to let the kids know. You have to.”

After the dust settled, an intentional walk to Courtney re-loaded the bases for Katie Hines, who promptly singled home Fellows with the Lady Golden Falcons’ fourth run of the afternoon.

“They were huge,” Morales said of the runs his team scored late. “Some people say it’s luck, but I think it’s just our preparation and meeting the opportunity.”

In the top of the seventh, Falconer scored a pair of runs on a two-run single off the bat of Russell, who finished the game 2 for 3 with three RBIs.

“She got a base knock and that scored two (runs),” Morales said of Russell’s single in the top of the seventh inning. “And that was the insurance (we needed) and we could have given up two, three runs and they still wouldn’t have been able to catch us.”

Tarnowski suffered the loss in the circle, as she allowed six runs – four earned – on 12 hits, struck out two and walked five.

“She gave us a Baylee Tarnowski game,” Pucciarelli said. “I don’t know how many strikeouts she had, but she had a lot of guts. She gets herself in and out of situations and she battles. She gave us her all (Tuesday).”

With Deering as his only senior, Pucciarelli has high hopes for his team heading into next season.

“We have a lot of girls playing travel softball, which is huge,” Pucciarelli said. “It helps me out immensely because they’re playing good, quality softball and getting good, quality at-bats.”

As for Deering, her presence will be sorely missed when the team takes the field next spring.

“Alicia started with me four years ago,” Pucciarelli said. “I think it was a year after (Fredonia went) to the state championship game for three years and we started with four wins. And then I think we increased it to eight and 16 last year, then 16 or 17 this year. So you know what, Alicia was really the head light in the whole deal. We’re going to miss her a lot.”

NOTES: Deering, Tarnowski, Genovese, Leid and Bre Dahn all had singles for Fredonia in the loss … Fellows had two hits for the Lady Golden Falcons while Hines was 2 for 3, including a double, with an RBI.