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Fredonia has certainly had a start to remember in 2024.

The Hillbillies (13-0, 9-0 Class B) have gone undefeated through the first half of their season and have been cruising through the competition thus far. In fact, nearly half of their schedule has seen the team emerge victorious by more than four runs.

According to coach Jesse Beers, that type of success has been no accident.

“It seems like the team really has a good vibe going right now,” coach Jesse Beers said. “Everybody's pretty comfortable in their roles and I think everybody knows what to expect. We feel really positive about each other right now and there just doesn't seem to be any real panic in us. 

“We’ve got four seniors on our team, a couple of freshmen and an eighth grader and they’re swinging the bat really well. So we have a nice mix and there just seems to be a little bit of a quiet confidence about them. I think this past weekend (at the Morabito Invitational in Binghamton) really helped a lot because for some of them, it's the first time they’ve seen some elite softball and they now understand that ‘Hey, we can play with them as long as we play our game and do our thing, we're going to be okay.’ So I'm hoping that’s sort of a springboard for us moving into the final week of the season and in the playoffs.”

One such senior, pitcher Jordan Lucas, has been the team’s dominant force. Lucas, a St. Bonaventure commit, recently racked up her 500th career strikeout, and the Hillbillies feed off her ability on the mound.

“She's been working at her craft for pretty much her entire life. Lucas eats, sleeps, dreams about softball – she’s played a few other sports, but softball is what she trains year-round for,” Beers said. “She’s really earned everything that she's gotten and she's become one of the most dominant pitchers in the area, if not the best.

“In fact, she only gave up her first earned run of the year in our ninth game of the season against Allegheny-Limestone, and that was where we had a first-and-third situation late in the game and we're up by six runs and she chose to throw the girl out at second base and let the runner at third score. When she's pitching, sometimes three or maybe four runs is going to be enough even against good teams, and that’s been the case lately.”

Photo Credit Alex Kolstee/WNYAthletics

As solid as their pitching has performed, Fredonia’s production at the plate has also been stellar. While they haven’t scored a lot of runs over their previous five games, Beers’ squad has had a lot of quality at-bats and that should bode well down the stretch.

“Our offense is starting to click a little bit more, even though we're still not putting up big numbers offensively we're having much better at-bats,” Beers said. “Our girls are getting walks and getting deep in counts, and we're not striking out as much either. As long as we put the ball in play, we’ll put more pressure on their defense and put more pressure on their pitcher and that means a world of difference – especially in close games.

“We're not afraid to play small-ball either. We can bunt runners over, and we’ve got a couple of girls who can steal bags. We feel like we're pretty complete that way, and I like where we’re at right now.”

That’s not to say that the Hillbillies won’t encounter adversity at some point. It happens to the best of sports teams, and Beers knows that to overcome that adversity his team will focus on themselves and everything else will fall into place.

“One of the things we preach to our girls all the time is the scoreboard will take care of itself, but we're not competing with the other team. We're competing with ourselves,” Beers said. “As long as we play our game and we play up to our potential, if we win – great. If we don't, I'm okay with that too. 

“Several years ago, we lost a sectional final game to Olean 2-1 and I couldn’t have been more proud of our girls because they played their hearts out and they left everything out there and played a great game. We just got outplayed that day a little bit. If that happens in the playoffs, you can still go home and be happy about it and sleep well. If you’re not mentally into it and we're making silly mistakes, then I feel like the other team didn't beat us – we just beat ourselves. So that's really what we're trying to avoid. Let’s keep our vibe going and keep our heads in the game and if we do that, I like our chances going forward.”

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