Niagara Gazette — Whichever way you slice it, Grand Island softball has the pieces in place to contend for the Niagara Frontier League’s top spot this season.
The promising outlook is in large part due to the Vikings’ extensive depth at pitching.
The rotation, a group three-deep with talented arms, is led by junior ace Alley Cutting, the perennial force from the circle who is back for her third varsity season and better than ever, according to second-year coach Cheryl O’Connor.
“Last year I came in and I was very optimistic because I knew I inherited a strong pitcher like Alley,” said O’Connor, who coached the Vikings to a 14-4 overall record and a second-place finish in the NFL during her first season. “She exceeded even my expectations and was a huge part of our success. And she’s only getting better.”
O’Connor said Cutting spent her summer fine-tuning her pitch arsenal with Kenmore West coach Matt Chimera, who runs an annual softball camp for the area’s top players.
Cutting finished last season 7-4 with a 1.66 ERA and 90 strikeouts over 66 ⅓ innings. She also collected three saves and added a .419 batting average with three home runs and 20 RBIs from the plate.
The highlight of Cutting’s jill-of-all-trades season came May 21 during a sectional quarterfinal game when she no-hit Kenmore East, striking out 16.
O’Connor said the difference between this year and last should be the depth the Vikings have built behind Cutting, who was an All-NFL first-teamer and earned All-WNY honorable mention.
Senior Jillian Sheehan and junior Scarlett Whitman will each work to compliment the top of the rotation.
Sheehan, a lefty and third-year varsity captain, and Whitman, a right-hander playing in her first varsity season, give O’Connor multiple options for various situations.