By Keith McShea
SANBORN -- It was the perfect way to finish off a perfect day for Section VI softball at Niagara-Wheatfield.
Section VI went 3-0 against its counterparts from Section V (Rochester area) on Friday, with the most impressive performance coming in the finale of the Far West Regional tripleheader.
Clarence senior Katrina Buczkowski threw her first career no-hitter to lead the Red Devils to a 5-0 victory over Brockport in the Class AA game.
Buczkowski struck out 13 and did not allow a ball to leave the infield. She also added a key RBI single during the Red Devils' five-run fifth against Brockport senior Julia DiMartino, who this week was named the Gatorade New York State Player of the Year for softball and who beat Clarence in last year's regional.
Clarence will be joined by Williamsville South and Eden at next Saturday's New York State Public High School Athletic Association championships at Moreau Recreational Park in South Glens Falls.
Williamsville South continued to be the drama queens of the softball postseason as the Billies surrendered a 6-0 lead to Geneva in the bottom of the seventh before coming back to win, 8-7, in eight innings.
Williamsville South, which scored six runs in the bottom of the seventh to win its Section VI Class A final against Starpoint, 6-4, will play at 1:30 p.m. next Saturday. The Billies' opponent will be the winner of Saturday's regional between Section III (Syracuse area) champion Oneida and Sectioni II (Albany area) champion Troy.
Eden was utterly dominating in winning the Class B game, 14-0, over Wayland-Cohocton to earn the program's first trip to the state final four. Junior Carly Nasca pitched the shutout as the Raiders showed off their two-armed starting staff (sophomore standout Jill Murray won the Section VI final).
The Raiders will play at 11 a.m. next Saturday; their opponent will be the winner of Saturday's regional between Section IX (Orange, Sullivan, Ulster Counties) champion Highland and Section XI (Suffolk County, L.I.) champion Center Moriches
Clarence (18-1) will play at 9 a.m. next Saturday against Section VIII (Nassau County) champion East Meadow, which won the Long Island regional Friday.
It is the second state final four trip in the last three years for Clarence, which won the program's first state title in 2012. The Red Devils have appeared in the state final four for four of the last seven years.
On paper, Clarence was not favored to return this year. The Red Devils were ranked sixth in the New York State Sportswriter Association rankings while Brockport was No. 2.
While DiMartino was strong in the middle of the game, Buczkowski had fans in the bleachers murmuring from the start as she struck out the first eight batters she faced, as well as 11 of the first 12.
Clarence had made contact against DiMartino early -- getting runners on in the second, third and fourth innings, but DiMartino answered by getting 8 of 10 outs via strikeout at one point from the second to fifth innings.
She retired the side in order in the fifth, but Clarence took ownership of the game when it sent 10 batters to the plate in the sixth.
Leadoff Gabby Keller fought off two foul balls in a 3-2 count before bombing a double over the center fielder's head to set the tone. Alyssa Barnas' sac bunt became a fielder's choice when DiMartino tried to get Keller at third but she slid safely under the tag. That led Brockport to walk Canisius College-bound Moriah Harris, bringing up Buczkowski.
Buczkowski has thrived in the clean-up spot this season following many walks to Harris, but before she could again, two wild pitches brought in two runs to get Clarence started. Buczkowski followed by lining an opposite-field single to right for an RBI and a three-run lead.
Senior Corrie Colf, who had a home run in Clarence's Section VI championship win, then clobbered a triple to left field to give Clarence its 5-0 advantage.
That handed the game over to Buczkowski, who got two groundouts before finishing the game with her 13th strikeout.
Williamsville South cruised in its Class A regional, pounding out 12 hits as it built it 6-0 lead heading to the bottom of the seventh.
Eerily, the Billies were then on the opposite side of the same kind of comeback it had authored in the sectional final on the same field two days earlier.
Geneva had 11 batters go to the plate, getting three hits and taking advantage of four South errors to tie the game. With still two out and the winning run on third base, South coach Julie Murphy replaced senior starter Sam Moon with senior Courtney Gracz, who got a groundout to send the game to extra innings.
In the top of the eighth, South rebounded with two runs on RBI singles by Stephanie Tirone and Nicole Rice.
In the bottom of the inning, Geneva scored once and had runners on first and second with one out, but Gracz got a soft liner to short and then a grounder for a force out at third to give South the win and its first trip to the state final four since 2006, when the Billies won the state title. That was a run of three straight final four trips for South under coach Gerry Gentner, Murphy's father, who passed away in 2011.
Eden steadily built a lead against Wayland-Cohocton, scoring in the first three innings to go up, 5-0. Entering the seventh it had a 6-0 advantage, before adding eight runs in the top of the inning, including a three-run homer by Hayley Kobie.
Nasca threw a two-hitter with five strikeouts and retired the side in order the last four innings.
taggedClarence | Eden | Softball | Williamsville South