CALEDONIA — The Marcus Whitman softball team was not expected to make much noise in the Class C1 playoffs.
Yet, against all odds, the Wildcats made it all the way to the championship game and gave an undefeated Warsaw team a serious run for its money.
Warsaw ended up taking the game by a score of 6-2, but for a team that some referred to as a Cinderella story, that score has a much deeper meaning.
Marcus Whitman head coach Craig Morley couldn’t have been more proud of his team.
“I’m super proud. It’s been at least 20 years since Whitman softball has been to sectional finals.
“We peaked at the right time and I’ve been telling them all year, ‘when you play your game, you can beat anyone in this league,’” Morley proudly stated.
The Wildcats record at the conclusion of the regular season was a respectable 9-8 overall. However, the last game of the regular season for the Wildcats was a brutal, 16-3 loss at the hands of Red Jacket.
Marcus Whitman rebounded in the opening round of sectionals, downing Canisteo-Greenwood 4-1.
Next they played Gananda, who had not lost a single game all year. The Wildcats came in as the decided underdog and won 4-3, something that seemed to make the team realize that they could play with anyone.
“Beating Gananda, they realized, ‘we really can beat anybody if we play our game and believe,’” Morley said.
Right below Gananda in the Wayne County standings was Williamson sporting a 16-3 record. Marcus Whitman continued proving the softball world wrong and won 8-7.
The championship game arrived and the Wildcats faced a similar scenario: facing an undefeated team.
Marcus Whitman put their best foot forward and starting pitcher Amber LeMay was on the mound, ready to dominate as she had all year.
Through the first two innings, the Wildcats contained Warsaw and the defense was stout and resilient. They turned a double play in the bottom of the first and only allowed one run to score in the bottom of the second and stranded a runner at third.
To her credit, Warsaw’s starting pitcher Anna O’Geen was dominant on the mound and had a perfect game through three innings.
“I’m not sure we faced anyone quite like her yet,” Morley admitted. “It took us too long to adjust to her and we started to figure her out in the fourth inning.”
The fourth inning started with Whitman shortstop Lillian Chrysler beating out a throw for an infield single to break up the perfect game. Chrysler then stole second to put herself in scoring position.
LeMay was then walked, and team captain Aaliyah Beverly singled to center field allowing Chrysler to score — leveling the game at 1-1.
In the fourth and sixth innings, Warsaw’s offense was just too much for Whitman to handle and they scored five runs off of a base-clearing triple and a sacrifice fly to right field.
The top of the seventh inning was a sort of microcosm of the season for Marcus Whitman: they did not go down easy.
After LeMay walked for the second time in the game, team captain Alyn Watts hustled down the line to first, which caused the Warsaw third baseman to overthrow first base, and LeMay scored.
In the end O’Geen was remarkable. She ended with two hits allowed, two walks, one earned run, and nine strikeouts.
It was an emotional post-game for the Wildcats, but the parents in the crowd and coaches acknowledged that what they had seen over the past 10 days, was a true Cinderella story.
Coach Morley agreed.
“That’s fair to say. I don’t think anybody expected a whole heck of a lot from us, and that’s OK. We kind of like that,” Morley said. “I am super proud of them.”