Medina claimed the first N-O softball titles

By Mike Wertman, Sports Writer Posted 14 May 2020 at 9:05 am

Contributed Photo – Members of the 1975 Niagara-Orleans League champion Medina softball team included, in front, Donna Fox, Lou Ann Watkins, Cherrie Schnackel, Mary Ann O’Kussick, Beth Gardner, Lisa Rosentreter and Janet Simpson. In back are Connie Eick, Chris Prawel, Pat Curtin, Sue Wolter, Teal Meacham, Anita Chinn, Cheryl Brady, Helen Maryjanowski and Coach Sue O’Dea.

When the Niagara-Orleans League began softball competition in the mid 1970’s Medina was the first team to claim the title.

In fact, the Mustangs captured the championship in each of the league’s first two years going 6-0 in 1975 and 10-2 in 1976.

A narrow 12-11 win over Newfane was Medina’s only close call during the inaugural 1975 season.

A big seven run fourth inning keyed that win  as Helen Maryjanowski, Sue Wolter, Anita Chinn, Pam Vanderlaan, Teal Meacham and Lou Ann Watkins all had singles and winning pitcher Mary Ann O’Kussick a triple. Watkins then threw two Newfane runners out attempting to steal third base in the seven inning to preserve the win.

A pair of narrow one run late season wins over Wilson (9-8) and Starpoint (18-17 in eight innings) helped Medina claim the title in 1976. The Mustangs title quest was greatly aided by Starpoint’s two victories over Newfane. Medina had split its two meetings with Newfane winning 15-7 and losing 11-6.

The 9-8 win over Wilson saw Medina rally for four runs with two out in the final inning on a double by Mary Bukiewicz, a two-run error and a single by Denise Benben.

The title clinching win over Starpoint went eight innings. Medina scored four times in the top of the eighth on a single by Connie Eick, two errors and s double by Sue Wolter for an 18-14 lead. Starpoint though rallied for three runs in the bottom of the eighth and still had a runner at third with two outs when Chinn made a huge catch in centerfield to lock up the win and earn the Mustangs the title. The Medina offense also included a two-run homer by winning pitcher Cherrie Schnackel and a pair of doubles by Wolter.

The Mustangs had clinched at least a tie for the title by blanking Roy-Hart 16-0 to go to 9-2 on the season as Bukiewicz had three hits, Meacham, Watkins, Schnackel and Wolter two each. Schnackel’s hits included a home run.

That first 10 year stretch of N-O softball competition also saw Medina claim the crown in both 1981 and 1983.

That early stretch also saw Starpoint win the title three times (1979, 1980 and 1984 co-champion) while Akron won twice (1977 and 1978) as did Newfane (1982 and 1984 co-champion).