Niagara Gazette —
Wilson softball senior Lindsay Bryer has come a long way since she began throwing for the Lakewomen three seasons ago.
Sometime over the course of last season, Bryer changed. She finally became a pitcher, which isn’t easy in the offense-dominated Niagara-Orleans League.
A pitcher in softball, of course, is much different than a thrower. The transformation involves patience, intelligence, control, trust and leadership.
Maybe the moment came in one of Bryer’s eight wins, as she struck out one of her 172 batters over 126.2 innings. Or maybe during her May 2 no-hitter against Albion, the N-O champion four seasons in a row.
Either way, second-year Wilson coach Maureen Mahar is certain Bryer is ready to capture the title as the league’s best ‘pitcher’. If she can do that, the Lakewomen, coming off a 9-5 third-place finish, promise to take the next step in challenging for an N-O title.
“Last year was the year that Lindsay really found her voice as a pitcher,” Mahar said. “She just really began trusting herself and bought into the theory that she didn’t have to blow by people. ... Mentally, she has become resilient. And it’s been really fun to watch.”
Fun for Mahar and Bryer’s teammates. Not so much for opponents.
In the circle, Bryer is an ace. From the plate, she’s equally dangerous, leading the Lakewomen in hits (29), runs (28), batting average (.392), homeruns (2) and RBIs (23) a year ago.
She’s the only senior on a Lakewomen team young in age but not in experience. They return all but two players from last year, many of them freshmen and sophomores with at least one varsity season under their belts already.
Mahar said Bryer, who will attend SUNY Canton next year for volleyball, is prepared to put the team on her shoulders in her final season.
“The difference between last year and this one is experience," Mahar said. "We're still a very young team, but most of them know what it's like now. ... Sometimes it comes down to a pitcher’s shoulders, and that's what we have here.”
After the graduation of Kailey Schultz and Stacey Thrush, juniors Allie Bubar and Alissa DiCesare will help provide Bryer with a little offensive support. They’ll hold down the right side of the infield, with Bubar at second base and DiCesare at first.
“Anytime I see something hit the the right side I rest assured,” Mahar said.
She’ll feel just as comfortable when a ball is hit to virtually any spot sophomore center fielder Bekha Blasius can get to, which doesn't leave much space.
Another pair of sophomores, Sam Ess and Taylor DeVole, will contribute toward the top of the Lakewomen lineup. DeVole will start at third while Ess enters her second year catching Bryer behind the plate.
The Lakewomen also welcome newcomer Ana Bryer to the squad, who transferred from league rival Newfane to join Lindsay, her stepsister, on the diamond. She’ll round out the infield at shortstop.
“She’s made the transition really very well,” Mahar said, now assured she’ll continue to have a Bryer on her team for the next four years. “It’s always nice to have your sister playing by you. I think it’ll help both of them grow.”
Freshman Rachel Cobo and eighth grader Kelly Secor join the Lakewomen from the JV squad and will fill out the corner outfield positions.
Although they are still one of the youngest teams in the N-O, Mahar feels confident that there may not be much of a learning curve left before the Lakewomen compete with the league's best.
“I think it’s anybody’s game in the N-O this season,” Mahar said. “We had our eyes on the top teams all last year. We circled Albion and Akron on our calendar when they were both undefeated at the time and we ended up being one of their only losses.
“I think that was huge for us to come in third behind two almost undefeated teams. It won’t be long before we’re right up there with them.”Follow contributing sports reporter Brandon Schlager on Twitter @B_Schlag.