Albion’s first N-O softball championship season marks 25th anniversary

By Mike Wertman, Sports Writer Posted 28 May 2020 at 9:06 am

Contributed Photos – Albion’s 1995 softball team captured the Purple Eagles first ever Niagara-Orleans League title. In front are Missy Pilon, Kim Mullins, Carly Bonacci and Lisa Babbitt. In the middle row are Kelly Lewis, Jen Viza, Megan McKenna, Nicole Evarts and Conni Bencal. In the back row are Coach Ann Capacci, Brandi Beach, Bianca Jurs, Charlynda Winkley, Denise Lake, Jennifer Hinkley and Assistant Coach Alec Sherman.

It was just 25 years ago this spring that the 1995 Albion High team captured the school’s first Niagara-Orleans League softball championship.

It was a tight title battle that wasn’t decided until the final day of the league season when Coach Ann Capacci’s Purple Eagles used the combination of an 11-0 victory over Akron with Newfane’s narrow 1-0 win over rival Wilson to claim Albion’s first N-O crown.

Albion finished with a 12-2 record followed closely by Wilson at 11-3 and Newfane at 10-4.

In the title clinching finale Bianca Jurs hurled the shutout limiting Akron to only 4 hits with 9 strikeouts and just 1 walk.  At the plate, Jurs, Conni Bencal, Kim Mullins and Nicole Evarts each had two hits.

In the game before, Jurs also pitched a 3 hit shutout with 8 strikeouts as Albion posted a key 16-0 win over Wilson. The victory not only avenged an earlier season 11-4 loss but more importantly pulled Albion into a tie for the N-O lead with Wilson at 11-2.

Bencal banged out three hits to lead the Purple Eagles balanced attack which also included two each by Jurs, Evarts, Kelly Lewis and Megan McKenna.

The Purple Eagles, whose only other N-O loss was a narrow 14-13 setback against Barker, also had a couple of other close calls during the season nipping Newfane 6-5 and Starpoint 4-2 in 8 innings.

Against Newfane, Albion rallied for two runs in the bottom go the seventh inning on an RBI single by Bencal and a run producing triple by Mullins. RBI singles in the eighth inning by Bencal and Jurs provided the margin of victory against Starpoint.

Jurs, Bencal, Mullins and Lewis all earned first team N-O All-League honors.

The breakthrough season triggered a good title run which saw the Purple Eagles claim two more N-O titles over the next five years winning in 1998 and 2000 both times with 12-2 records.

Bianca Jurs delivers a pitch for the Purple Eagles while at right Conni Bencal makes a throw from her shortstop position during the 1995 N-O title season.