Weekly Feature



2018-04-11 / Sports

Kenmore West softball team has talent and experience

TAYLOR NIGRELLI
Sports Reporter


Kenmore West pitcher Abby Borkowski fields a ball during a game in the 2016 season. Borkowski will be counted on as one of the most important players for the Lady Blue Devils this season as a fifth-year senior. 
Photo by Jake French Kenmore West pitcher Abby Borkowski fields a ball during a game in the 2016 season. Borkowski will be counted on as one of the most important players for the Lady Blue Devils this season as a fifth-year senior. Photo by Jake French Kenmore West softball will return almost all of its starters from a 12-6 team last season. While the two girls who graduated (Allie Chimera and Grace Ferguson) were certainly huge losses, this year’s team will have plenty of experience and talent.

Abby Borkowski will return on the mound. She’s a five-year starter who has pitched since her freshman year. She’s been All-Western New York twice, and has signed to play at St. Bonaventure next year.

“She’s had a great career so far and she’s signed to play at St. Bonaventure,” Kenmore coach Matt Chimera said. “She’s going to continue to play great for us.”

Last year’s catcher, Jess Leone, has moved to shortstop. In her place, sophomore Rachel Ryckman and senior Maddie Sortino will be behind the plate.

The infield will feature returning All-NFL player Sydney McIntosh at first, Frankie Mercado at second base, Leone at shortstop and Lydia Serrano at third base. Serrano can also pitch when needed. Junior Rachel Valente, a three-year starter who was second team All-NFL last year, will play centerfield. Zoe Battaglia returns to play right field. Left field is not yet set. Ciara Sinatra has played there in the spring, but Olivia Domiano will also see some time out there.

Meanwhile, the offense features plenty of girls who were impressive at the plate last year. Leone and Borkowski both hit over .400 while McIntosh and Serrano have serious power. Pretty much everyone brings something to the table when it comes to hitting.

“You never know with hitting. If we hit like we did last year, I think hitting will be our strength,” Chimera said. “Jess Leone and Abby both hit over .400. Sydney and Lydia both have lots of power. Lydia hit the first home run on the new field. Zoe hit very well last year. Frankie and Olivia both hit well and can run. Ciara is a very fast runner for us. If she can put the ball in play, she can get on base.”

The Lady Blue Devils won their first game of the season, 5-4, over Grand Island. Borkowski had a strong game on the mound and also had two hits and two RBIs. Serrano hit a home run while Mercado was strong on defense.

“Abby and Lydia were the two standouts in the game on offense,” Chimera said. “Frankie had a great game on defense with four or five assists. Abby pitched very well. We were without Sydney who was away and Rachel, who was out with a sprained ankle, but the kids came together and had a good game.”

With so much returning talent and experience, the team obviously has big goals. The Lady Blue Devils are aiming for a state title in their first year in Class A. The program has done it in the past, but will have to take on a new slew of teams this season.

“Our goal is always to win states,” Chimera said. “We did it once and we have been there four times. It doesn’t matter the year, it’s certainly a tough road. There will be a lot of new things to deal with this year. We have a new field, we’re in Class A for the first time. The teams we will face in sectionals are all different. We’ve had to move some people around.”

Meanwhile, they’ll once again face a ton of competition in Niagara Frontier League play. Niagara Wheatfield, Lew-Port, Grand Island and Kenmore East could all be tough opponents.

“Niagara Wheatfield is outstanding, they’re going to be tough to beat,” Chimera said. “Lew-Port won last year. They’re going to be strong again. Those two are very good. Grand Island and Lockport have good teams. Kenmore East has good players. Nothing is going to be easy, every game is going to be tough. We’re hoping to get better as the year goes on. We have some positions to get used to, but we should be ready to compete by sectional time.”

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