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Williamsville East More Than A Load of Talent

What has made the Williamsville East Softball team so successful this year?

With four Division I bound softball players and a few others who are likely to make it the next level as well, it would be easy to say the Flames have earned a perfect record and a #1 NYSSWA ranking because of sheer talent.

But talent only goes so far. The Flames believe their bond has carried them the rest of the way.

“We have a lot of fun on and off the field,” said senior Rachel Steffan, after Tuesday afternoon’s 10-0 win over the Williamsville South Billes in the Class A-1 semifinals. “That carries into our game play. We keep the energy up and never let anyone down. We have a lot of talent; we just have to use it.”

The Flames will take on Niagara Wheatfield in the Class A-1 final at Williamsville North High School on Thursday at 4 p.m.

Williamsville East has developed that bond with 36 years of combined varsity experience and many players playing travel softball together over the past few summers.

After falling 1-0 in the NYSPHSAA championship game in 2017 and being upset by Iroquois in the Class A crossover game last year, the Flames are motivated to win it all this season.

“The taste in the mouths from two years ago losing in the state final and then last year losing to Iroquois really got into this team,” Williamsville East coach Chris Durr said. “We started off saying we’re not going to settle for anything this year.”

So far, East hasn’t settled for anything. They’re 22-0, highlighted by a pair of wins over #4 NYSSWA Class AA ranked Victor.

The Flames have won in every way possible, putting up double-digit runs in some games while having one of their two D-I pitchers shut down opposing offenses other times.

Tuesday, the Flames did both.

Missouri softball commit Summer Clark had a three-hit shutout. That was complemented by eight Flames getting hits, including their ninth batter Chelsea McNamara who had an inside the park home run.

“I think the most important thing is that even though we scored ten runs today, Summer (Clark) had a 0.43 ERA going into this game and Cara Leone has a 1.00 ERA,” Durr said. “So this team can get in the box and know that they don’t have to score ten runs to win every day.”

Williamsville East took the lead in the bottom of the first. Abbie Stellrecht fell halfway between third and home but managed to get herself out of the pickle after four or five throws and score.

Steffan, who’ll be continuing her softball career at Fordham next year, added onto it in the third hitting an RBI double before coming home on an RBI single from Ella Wesolowski to give the Flames the 3-0 lead.

Wesolowski started the fifth with a two-RBI double and later stole home. Julia Warszawski brought in Clark on a single to finish off the inning.

McNamara’s homer kicked off the sixth that saw Steffan and Wesolowski score again.

“Anyone in our batting order can do something amazing at any at-bat,” Steffan said. “And that’s pretty cool to say.”

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