Section V softball: Joleigh Crye guides Avon to state final four

·4 min read

Joleigh Crye led Avon to its first-ever Section V championship last spring.

Fast forward 12 months and Crye has now led the Braves to their first state final four.

The senior pitcher's one-hit shutout did the trick, but her timely home run added some extra sauce during the Braves' 5-0 win over Section VI's Falconer in Friday's New York State Public High School Athletic Association Class C Far West Regional championship in Fillmore.

Section V champion Avon (20-1) defeated Section VI's Falconer 5-0 in the NYSPHSAA Far West Regionals Friday, June 3, 2022 at Fillmore.
Section V champion Avon (20-1) defeated Section VI's Falconer 5-0 in the NYSPHSAA Far West Regionals Friday, June 3, 2022 at Fillmore.

Friendship/Scio (17-4) is also won its regional. The Section V champion shutout Section VI's Westfield 4-0 behind sophomore Nevaeh Ross' 16 strikeouts in NYSPHSAA's Class D quarterfinal round.

"It's so surreal," said Avon coach Jill Terry, who coached junior varsity last season before returning to her varsity post after taking a few years off. "They played well down the stretch. They're starting to peak at the right time. They're excited to compete in Long Island."

What it means

Avon (20-1) and Friendship picked a perfect time to win back-to-back Section V titles.

In 2021, neither team had anything to play for beyond their section championship runs.

Avon won Class C last year when Crye's no-hitter lifted the Braves to their first section title. This will be Crye's second time competing at states, just in a different sport. She competed at the NYSPHSAA boys swimming championships despite racing against male-qualifying times.

Crye has made the All-Greater Rochester first team as a swimmer and pitcher. She'll swim Division I at the University of Cincinnati upon graduation.

Avon senior Joleigh Crye
Avon senior Joleigh Crye

For coach Deb Kane, this is the first section championship during the Friendship and Scio merger.

In 2021, Ross struck out 16 in a two-hitter to lead Friendship to the D2 title last spring — the program's first since 1993.

Key plays

Crye's home run was the dagger in the Class C contest.

In the top of the third, Crye escaped a bases-loaded jam to preserve a slim 1-0 advantage. At the bottom, Crye hit a three-run homer to give the Braves a 4-0 lead and some cushion midway through the game.

No wonder why Crye has been walked 31 times.

"Hitting that three-run homer was the icing. They're afraid of her, and that's why," Terry said. "She sometimes uses it as motivation to go out there and play with a chip on her shoulder."

Olivia Pusloskie had an RBI-double for Avon's first run. In the sixth, Jessie Crye drove in Abby Schultz for a 5-0 lead, helping the Braves enter states with five straight wins. The Braves' only loss was a 2-0 setback to Keshequa in the regular season finale.

Defensively, Avon is used to Joleigh Crye's strikeout count being closer to 20 than 10, and her infield and outfield stepped up their support with the ball in play more often. The highlight was third baseman Courtney Yencer turning a double play with a runner in scoring position. She fielded a bunt, faked a throw to first, and tagged the threatening base runner before catching another runner at second.

"Joleigh's got so many different pitches, and she reads the batter better than any payer I've ever seen. She's a super smart kid with a high softball IQ."

Each Avon run was important against a Falconer team capable of scoring. Emily Rhinhart and Hannah Melquist both pitched in the final for the Falcons (13-4).

In Class D, Nevaeh Ross' RBI put Friendship/Scio on the board first, then her eighth-grade sister Morghyn Ross plated the elder sibling for a 2-0 lead through three.

Nevaeh Ross has already surpassed 300 strikeouts on the season and 700 for her career, leading Friendship/Scio into states riding a seven-game winning streak.

Westfield pitcher Haleigh Dellow, Bianca Seger and Tanleigh Bestine led the Wolverines to a 20-3 season.

What's next

The NYSPHSAA semifinals and finals will take place on the same day.

Avon won the NYSPHSAA Far West Regional championship.
Avon won the NYSPHSAA Far West Regional championship.

The Moriches Athletic Complex will host the tournament at its Long Island facility on Saturday, June 11.

Avon awaits the winner of Saturday's East Regional final. Section X's Norwood-Norfolk and Section II's Greenwich play each other at 4 p.m. Saturday. The NYS Class C semifinal begins at 9 a.m.

Friendship/Scio will play either Section IX's Eldred or Section IV's Deposit/Hancock in the state semifinals. First pitch of the NYS Class D semifinal is at 11:15 a.m.

Email Marquel Slaughter at mslaughter1@gannett.com and follow his Twitter @MarquelSports. Sign up for our high school sports newsletter.

This article originally appeared on Rochester Democrat and Chronicle: Avon high school softball heads to state final four