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Semple powers West to victory

It was simple, really. What do you want to do tomorrow, play another game or turn in your uniforms?

For the Lady Blue Devils the answer was simple.

Keep playing.

Mariah Semple’s grand slam was the final dagger as No.4 Kenmore West handed No.5 Kenmore East an 18-2 loss in their Section VI Class A-1 quarterfinal game that was played at the Kenmore West Athletic Complex on Monday.

The win lifts the Blue Devils into Tuesday’s semifinals where they will face top-seeded Grand Island at 5:30pm.

“I’ve been saying I’m not ready for this to end and I’m not ready to give this group up,” West coach Kim Leggett said.

Semple, a senior playing in her final home game, drove the ball to straight away center clearing the fence.

Her swing highlighted a seven run, sixth inning that saw 11 Ken-West batters come to the plate.

“I was at second base and I was about to cry. I was like there’s no way I just hit that over the fence,” Semple said with a smile. “There’s no way. The feeling of me coming down the third baseline and seeing the whole team there (at home) for me it was amazing.”

Coach Leggett could not contain her smile when she talked about Semple.

One of the best center fielders in WNY, Semple’s blazing speed and ability to bunt makes her a key component in the Blue Devils small ball game.

“It was incredible,” Leggett said. “Mariah is special in that she is so versatile. She can lay down a bunt but she can also drive the ball. So for her to come up and really get a hold of that one-I’m so happy that she got to experience that moment.”

This marked the third time the Blue Devils defeated their crosstown rivals this season.

The Blue Devils and Bulldogs are somewhat mirror images of each other this season.

Both teams have the ability to put up runs and flash the leather with brilliant defensive gems.

But both teams have also struggled with erratic play in the field. That one inning where

bobbled grounders, dropped pop ups, rushed throws and other issues have proven to be costly on the scoreboard.

Those issues would haunt the Bulldogs from the word go as the Blue Devils would race to a 4-0 lead in the first inning.

Tori Hatch’s bases clearing double in the third helped West extend its lead to 10-0.

Ken-East had a chance to put some runs on the board when they loaded the bases with one out. But the Blue Devils were able to turn a 5-2-3 double play to escape the inning damage free.

Even though the Bulldogs were unable generate any offense, Semple said she and her teammates couldn’t allow themselves to get complacent and give East any kind of chance to claw back into the game.

“They could come back any time,” Semple said. “We played as if it’s the first inning. Beginning of the game, 0-0.”

Even though being on the wrong side of a lopsided score wasn’t the Bulldogs plan they were still able to walk off the field with a smile and a measure of satisfaction that they were able to do some good things this year.

“Honestly, West creamed us three times this year. They played well every game. They did the fundamentals. They made their plays, they hit the ball and every time we played them and we did not, Ken East coach Bryan Burhans said. “Hats off to them I wish them good luck.

I’ve got a good bunch of girls and they are ultimately happy with the season.”

Ella Valente went the distance to pick up the win while Anna Rose Roulley scored three times.

Next up for the Lady Blue Devils, a trip to Grand Island to take on the top seeded Lady Vikings today at 530pm. Grand Island defeated West Seneca West 3-2 yesterday.

Ken West is 0-2 against the Vikes this season losing 1-0 and 14-1.

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