7/13/18

 

* The 2018 softball season proved to be another one for the record books in Section IV.  Maine-Endwell’s dominance in Class A captured the section’s 47th overall state championship, far and away the leader.  Deposit lost a heartbreaker to powerhouse Fort Ann to barely deny them a fourth straight state championship.  Susquehanna Valley ran into an absolute juggernaut in Calista Phippen and Ichabod Crane, losing 2-0 in the title game.

 

* Still, three state championship appearances and one victory shows just how deep a section this is.  Time and time again, different teams step up and play deep into the spring season.

 

* Now that all of the state and local all-stars have been announced, let’s take a look at how each of Class AA-D might look like next season, along with the chances that Horseheads (AA), Maine-Endwell (A), Susquehanna Valley (B), Edison (C), and Deposit (D) can repeat as Section IV champs.

 

* It had been a long time coming, but after losing in their last five AA championship appearances, Horseheads finally got over the hump with a dramatic 9-8 comeback win over Corning.  When you’re down 7-1 to a loaded team like Corning heading into the 5th inning, it would be easy to quit and declare it another opportunity lost.  Instead, the Blue Raiders kept fighting, kept hitting, and didn’t stop until they had the lead for good.  Two of the leaders on this team will be gone next year in Alli Richmond and Lacey O’Donnell.  Richmond earned 4th Team All-State honors along with a West Division All-Star, and O’Donnell played a big role that garnered her a West Division nod as well.  Both are really hard to replace.  They do have plenty of talent on their way back, however.  Two of the biggest RBI machines from the Corning game will be back, as Tess Cites (3rd Team All-State) launched a grand slam, and Kendal Cook (1st Team All-State) hit a two-run double.  They also have the battery intact, as Madison Rogers will get to toss to Maiah Skakel for the next two years.  Both will be juniors, and both were West Division All-Stars.  Abby Packard is another underclassman West All-Star, as she played the hot corner and will be entering her junior season.  That’s a load of talent on a team that will once again be a favorite to win a Section IV crown.

 

* Corning will also bring back some talent, as they look to avenge their loss to Horseheads.  It all starts with Laura Bennett, who earned 5th Team All-State and West Division All-Star selections.  Anytime you have your stud pitcher back, you know you have a great chance of beating anyone.  They also have a freshman in Atalyia Rijo, who as an 8th grader was the youngest to earn an All-State berth in all of Section IV (6th team).  They’ll have a hard time replacing 3rd baseman Lexi Easling, who’s earned STAC All-Star nods the last two years.  I would definitely lookout for Elmira next year, as they were young this year and still enjoyed lots of success.  They actually beat Corning twice by scores of 3-0 before falling to them 4-2 in the AA semis.  They return two All-State players in Alexis Wood in the outfield and Bella Reese on the mound.  Reese will get to pitch to Sarah Coon, a West Division All-Star as a 10th grader.  Fellow West All-Star Kiarah Glover will be a junior and joined Wood in the outfield.  They will be a very dangerous team.  Binghamton was shockingly shut out of any All-State or STAC all-star nods, as they had a tough time scoring runs consistently this year.  Still, the margin of error was pretty small, so with some more consistency at the plate, they can turn things around.

* Class A has belonged to the Maine-Endwell Spartans for the last seven years.  Elmira Free Academy (which doesn’t even exist anymore) was the last team to win a Class A crown in 2011.  Since then: all M-E, all the time.  Normally when you win a state championship with only one senior on the entire roster, you have to feel great about things being the same next year.  However, for as talented as this roster will still be, they’ll have a big hole to fill in replacing the two-time Class A Player of the Year in New York, Emily Hess.  Simply put, she pitched a ton of innings, won a ton of games, and swung a powerful stick as well.  She did it all from her sophomore year all the way to the last out in the championship game of her senior year.  Who gets the ball going forward?  Right now it appears to be Alli L’Amoreaux.  She already was a 5th Team All-State selection as a shortstop, and now she’ll move up a little and play from the circle in her junior year.  That shows you right there how talented she is.  Speaking of talent, Amanda DeSantis and Meredith Rose each were 2nd Team All-State as a freshman and sophomore, respectively.  To say they can each hit the ball would be an understatement.  Melissa Demo as a freshman earned a West Division All-Star nod as well.  They’ll miss Hess, but have plenty of weapons on the way back to try for a four-peat as state champs.

 

* Keep in mind that Class A in Section IV is pretty small, so there’s less in the way of winning a sectional crown.  That’s to take nothing away from M-E, who have time and time again proven that they are the best in the state.  Union-Endicott has a couple of great players on their way back.  Taylor Mischler led off the Section IV championship with a home run off of Emily Hess (one of two on the day), and she joined Hess as a 1st Team All-State member at catcher.  Abby Madigan is 3rd Team All-State in the outfield.  They also have West All-Star Amanda Kiser back, who was both a pitcher and outfielder.  Vestal and Johnson City are the other Class A teams, and each had young rosters that got better with experience this year.  With such a small class, all it takes is a few players to emerge and lead their teams to big seasons.

 

* Susquehanna Valley rode the arm of Sophia Pappas all the way to the B state championship game before just falling short.  In the semi-final game, Pappas reached the 1,000 strikeout mark, and also packed a punch at the plate. Amazingly, she was a 1st Team All-State member the last four seasons.  Wow!  She really could do it all.  It was an incredible run that included the last two Section IV championships, but in high school sports, it has to end sometime.  Now SV will have to turn to their younger talent to hold off a strong Class B again.  Their other big loss is Hannah Haskell, who was 2nd Team All-State at short.  Her sister Michaela was an East All-Star, and she also graduated.  There’s still talent there, though.  East All-Stars Emily DeMoney (catcher), Madison Tuttle (SS), and Sophie Keehle (OF) are all back.  The obvious question will be who takes the ball for the first time other than Pappas in a few years.  This is a team that has competed at a high level for quite some time.  With some key talent coming back, if they can get production from the pitcher’s mound, they will be right in the thick of things again.

 

* The team SV defeated for the second straight year in the sectional title game was Windsor, and they’ll be facing plenty of changes themselves.  All of their state and local all-stars will be gone: Allison Smith (2nd Team All-State), McKenzi Donahue (4th Team All-State), and Alexa Dixon (East All-Star).  If you know anything about Windsor, it’s that this program continually churns through one great young player after another, so that will once again be put to the test in 2019.  Waverly has the distinction of being *this* close to downing SV the last two years in sectionals, coming up agonizingly short both times.  Wendi Hammond is a 1st Team All-State pitcher, and she will be back for one last round.  Could 2019 be the year the Lady Wolverines conquer Class B?  It certainly is a strong possibility.  They do lose catcher Zoe Mennig, a 3rd Team All-State member.  Key returners will be Riley Hall (IAC South Large All-Conference), and Hali Jenner and Paige Miller (Honorable Mention).  Hammond is talented enough to carry this team to a championship, so watch out for them.  Chenango Forks loses 5th Team All-State member Jordan Jones, but returns Avery Copeland (3rd Team All-State), and East All-Stars Grace Cadden and Marissa Will.  That's some really good talent to continue building with.  Owego plays a tough schedule in the STAC Metro, so they have to hope that experience pays off in the long run.  They will lose East All-Star Abby Vaughn, but bring back fellow All-Star Emma Howe as a sophomore.

 

* Class C was a tight battle all year, but in the end, Edison came out on top with a 1-0 victory over Elmira Notre Dame in the sectional championship.  The difference was a solo homer by Bella Willsey, who also tossed a shutout and will be back for her senior season after being named 1st Team All-State.  Right away, Edison will have the edge in repeating.  They also have 3rd Team All-State member Jodie Burdick back, who had a terrific year, along with IAC Large South All-Conference member Riley Vincent in the outfield.  Mikayla Bush and Reagan Seelye will both be juniors and were Honorable Mentions.  Haley Maggs (2nd Team All-State) is a key graduate, along with All-Conference member Hailey Burdick at catcher, and Honorable Mentional Mackenzie Bonyak at short.  Add it all up, and while some great talent will be gone and others will be back, it will be hard to pick against Willsey leading the Spartans to another crown.

 

* When you think of Class C, you probably think of Elmira Notre Dame, as they were denied a fourth straight Section IV championship.  Izzy Milazzo pitched the Crusaders to win after win, and she just earned her third straight 1st Team All-State berth.  There’s no replacing an incredible talent like her.  They also lose Courtney Crater and Hannah Mahon to graduation.  They’ll return IAC Large South All-Conference member Jordyn Fargo, who provides plenty of power.  A pair of Honorable Mentions will also return in Payton Maloney and Taylor VanDine.  This program is always ready to compete and win, so we’ll see who else steps up to fill key rolls.  Union Springs will lose their ace, Bailey Mudge.  They do return All-Conference picks Telona White and Morgan Mudge.  Bainbridge-Guilford graduates 2nd Team All-State pick Megan Palmatier at catcher, but do have MAC 1st Team member Kori Thornton back.  Tioga earned six selections to the IAC Small All-Conference list, and five of them are seniors.  The two biggest are arguably pitchers Mariah Culver (5th Team All-State) and Maddy Dydynski.  There’s a whole bunch of production on the mound and at the plate these two provided that will need to be replaced.  Like Tioga, Moravia will wave goodbye to their ace, Maddie Funk, who is someone else really hard to replace.

 

* Over in Class D, it was once again be the Deposit show, as they obliterated Marathon 22-0 in the championship game.  After a couple years in which they had to scratch and claw to hold off Edmeston, it was smooth sailing through Section IV this year.  They came very close to pulling off the four peat before falling to Fort Ann in the state championship, 4-3.  Don’t expect them to go anywhere, as they once again return Makenzie Stiles on the mound, owner of four straight Class D Player of the Year honors.  She’s already set a state record in perfect games, so look out for more records to be shattered in her senior year.  She’ll get her catcher back in Bryn Martin, a 1st Team All-State member.  Younger sister Mikayla Martin (2nd Team) and Alaina Smith (4th Team) are the other All-State picks on their way back.  There are some big time seniors they’ll have to replace, however.  Kyra Martin (SS) and Erin Ballard (2nd) made up the middle of the infield and were 1st Team All-State members, and Aubrin Smith was on the 2nd Team at 1st base.  Even with a dominant pitcher, replacing ¾ of the infield is always an adjustment.  The Lumberjacks will absolutely be favored to repeat in Section IV for the sixth straight year, but need younger players to continue to step up if they want to support Stiles in another run at a state championship.

 

* Only two other teams placed members on the All-State list – Hancock and Afton.  Hancock returns two of the three in Laycee Drake (3rd Team) and Haleigh Nugent (5th Team).  Both will be sophomores, so there’s two big pieces to build around.  Afton returns a pair as well in 4th Team selections Madison Baciuska and Makaela Mills.  Abby Bealieu is also back and was a MAC 1st Team pick.  Don’t forget that catcher Caleigh Stevens was out this year with a torn ACL, and she’ll look to return stronger than ever for her senior year.  Other teams that had strong years in league play like Schenevus, Roxbury, Laurens, Gilboa, and Marathon will be more likely to win their respective league championships than a Class D title.  But hey, ya never know!

5/27/18

 

Championship Saturday at BAGSAI has come and gone already.  Five games determined the winners in Classes AA-D, and there were some good ones.  Let’s take a look at how it all shook out.

 

* Class AA Championship: #1 Horseheads 9 - #3 Corning 8.  Just when you thought Horseheads would again come up empty on the big stage of a sectional final, Tess Cites and her teammates made you think again.  After spotting Corning a 7-1 lead through four innings, Cites launched a grand slam that was a no-doubter to right to start the comeback.  An inning later, after Corning took back a run, Kendal Cook laced a two-run double, Alli Richmond a sac-fly RBI, and out of nowhere, Horseheads grabbed the lead at 9-8.  A flyout by Laura Bennett ended it.  And with that, Horseheads was back on top of the biggest class in Section IV with their first AA championship since 2009.  They’ve certainly had their chances since then, but were denied once apiece by Corning and Union-Endicott, and three times in recent years by Binghamton.  As good of a feeling as this is for Horseheads, you have to at least feel for the Corning players.  They had a terrific season that included wins over Horseheads, Binghamton, sweeping four games in the Morabito Tournament, and getting revenge on Elmira in the AA Semi-finals.  They brought the power in the early innings to grab the lead, with a two-run homer by Lexie Easling and a three-run shot by Ellie Daugherty.  It’s hard to know if perhaps they exhaled a bit with a six-run cushion, but knowing how familiar they are with Horseheads, I would guess they were fully aware that the Blue Raiders wouldn’t go quietly.  And go quietly they did not.  Give both lineups credit for cashing in against terrific pitchers in Maddie Rogers and Bennett when there were runners on base.  That’s not something that has happened very often to either one of them this year.  Horseheads is riding a high right now, and we’ll see if they can extend that momentum deep into the state tournament.

 

* Class A Championship: #1 Maine-Endwell 10 - #2 Union-Endicott 3.  If you saw the first inning, you would think U-E would be the ones coming out on top.  Before you could barely get settled into your lawn chair (or find a comfortable spot on the grass), Taylor Mischler hit a solo homer, the first of her two on the day.  The difference in the game may have come in this half of the inning.  U-E put their next two on base as well, and the Maine-Endwell faithful had to be wondering what was going on.  With runners on the corners and two down, Helena Layton of M-E made a great diving grab out in left to end the threat.  If that ball lands, at least one run scores, and maybe even two with the runner going on contact from first.  M-E then tied it at one in the 1st, then Amanda DeSantis tattooed a long three-run homer to left that gave M-E all the runs they’d need in the 2nd.  Amanda Kiser got the start for U-E and was eventually relieved by Kayla Barnes and Gabby Evans. They are solid pitchers for a Tigers’ program that enjoyed a great year, but were unable to get the big outs they needed in this one.  The good news for them is that they have solid players in Mischler and Kiser back for next year.  If I’m M-E, I’m feeling really good about my chances going forward.  They’re used to Emily Hess completely dominating the opposing hitters and carrying them far.  However, while she only gave up three runs, she needed some help from her defense and the bats (her own bat was a big part of this) in order to pull this out.  That should give the Spartans confidence that they can win a slugfest if needed going forward.

 

* Class B Championship: #1 Susquehanna Valley 8 - #2 Windsor 0.  The tone was set right from the first at-bat of the game on a ball that didn’t even go past the pitcher’s mound.  Windsor pitcher Jen Ross got leadoff hitter Shawna Zawiski to pop one up right in front of the plate, but a miscommunication between the catcher and 3rd basemen allowed it to clang off a glove to the dirt.  Needless to say, it was definitely not the start Windsor wanted, as Zawiski soon came around to score.  That was just one of four errors for the Black Knights, as nerves no doubt played a part in it.  From there, SV methodically put this one away, with two more in the 2nd, and adding more runs here and there.  Sophia Pappas again was dominant on the mound, though Windsor did put together quite a few good at-bats on hard hit balls that just wouldn’t fall.  SV turned in a great play defensively when Hallie Martin gunned a runner out at home from center to end the 4th.  That’s just the type of day it was for Windsor.  The bottom line is that SV made all the big plays, played a clean game, and beat their arch enemy for the second straight year in winning a Class B crown.  Pappas ended up with her 15th (yes, 15th) shutout of the season, which is phenomenal.  She also added her fifth homer of the season.  This win mirrors M-E effort just a field over, as defense and timely hitting backed up an incredibly talented pitcher.  If SV can get more of these types of hits from players like Alyssa Lezotte, Zawiski, and Pappas, they will be very difficult to beat in Regionals.  As for Windsor, you know they’ll be right back in the hunt next year, as they’ll no doubt be glad to see Pappas take her talents to Binghamton University.  The second half of the season proved how good of a team they will be going into next year.

 

* Class C Championship: #1 Edison 1 - #6 Elmira Notre Dame 0.  I hope you didn’t blink, because if you did, you probably missed this one.  In a game that clocked in at just over an hour, Bella Willsey and Izzy Milazzo were completely dominant in breezing through each other’s lineups.  The difference was a 3rd inning solo shot by Willsey that she made hold up all the way until the end for the victory.  Oh, she got plenty of help along the way from the incredible defense behind her.  Jodie Burdick made a couple of great catches in center, and shortstop Haley Maggs put an exclamation point on this one with a diving catch in foul territory to end it.  Couple the defense with Willsey’s 16 strikeouts, and Edison once again found a way to win a close game.  That’s now three wins for Edison over Elmira ND, all by the combined score of five runs.  They’ve also had tight battles in the IAC against Union Springs, Waverly, and Tioga, all victories.  Their only loss was by a run to Union-Endicott.  The state playoffs are new territory for the players on this team, but they have lots of reasons to be confident.  Not just anyone can beat a program like Elmira ND three times in one year.  That’s a pretty crazy stat.  Elmira ND came so close in this one, and made a very impressive run just to get to this point, which included wins over higher-seeded Tioga and Union Springs.  They may have come up short, but have plenty of be proud of, especially seniors like Hannah Mahon, Courtney Crater, and Milazzo.  They’ve won a whole lot of big games in their careers, so there’s nothing but good memories to reflect back on.

 

* Class D Championship: #1 Deposit 22 - #3 Marathon 0.  I will be dead serious for a moment to all of you who did not actually see this game.  Through four innings, Marathon was right in the thick of this game and really did have a reason to feel they could pull the shocking upset.  The score was 3-0, and Marathon pitcher Deanna Baldwin was doing all she could to slow the Deposit bats down.  It almost seemed as if her slower speed was making Deposit a little too anxious.  When it came time to make an adjustment and square some balls up, that most certainly happened for the Lumberjacks in the 5th.  And boy did it ever.  They sent TWENTY-FOUR batters to the plate for 19 runs.  Bryn Martin started the onslaught with a solo homer leading off (part of her perfect 5-for-5 day at the plate), and everything came crashing down on Marathon right after.  One liner after another led to many hits, including some shaky defense, and every time you looked, another Deposit runner was circling the bases.  Emphatically and without any doubt, Deposit proved they are far and away the best Class D team in Section IV, and it’s not even close.  Makenzie Stiles threw her second consecutive perfect game, and has now struck out 36 of 42 hitters the last two games.  Those would be the Class D Semi-final and Championship games, by the way.  I’m shaking my head in amazement just typing that.  In addition to her intimidating fastball, she’s also mixing in a curveball and riser that are just as good.  I’m sure the rest of the field in Class D is just thrilled hearing about that.  I’m sure they’re also thrilled at seeing the numbers “15” and “22” next to their team name as scores the last two games.  Put it all together, and once again, they’re the team to beat in New York.  Marathon played hard for much of this game, just were obviously too overmatched to maintain a close score the whole game.  Still, they should be very proud of their appearance in this game.  I’ve been keeping track of sectional championship games since the early 2000’s, and I have not seen their name listed as one of the participants.  It’s great seeing programs come together and reach the big stage, and a deep run in sectionals made them do just that.  Good for them.

5/25/18

 

After many rainouts, snowouts, coldouts, or whatever other reasons for postponing games, we have finally arrived to Championship Saturday at BAGSAI!  I should probably not use the word “finally” because it has actually been a blur, at least on my end.  Lots of games crammed into these last few weeks, but we made it.

 

With that said, let’s take a look at all five championship matchups on the docket this Memorial Day weekend.

 

* Class AA Championship: #1 Horseheads vs. #3 Corning, 2:00.  Horseheads has been knocking on the door of an AA championship the last four years, but haven’t gotten over the hump.  Last year it was a 2-0 setback to Binghamton, the team they just vanquished 12-2 in the semis.  They last won an AA title in 2009, beating Union-Endicott 3-1.  Corning last appeared in a sectional championship in 2014 when they were in Class A, and lost to Maine-Endwell 12-3.  The last time they won was defeating Horseheads in AA back in 2012, 13-4.  Add it all up, and one of these dominant programs will get their first championship in a handful of years.  These teams are both in the STAC West division and split their two games: Horseheads 1-0, Corning 6-0.  In the first game, Maddie Rogers outdueled Laura Bennett in striking out 11.  More recently, Corning got four runs in the 2nd, with Olivia McLellen hitting three RBIs and Bennett tossing the shutout.  Corning dropped a 2-1 decision to M-E on May 10, but have been on fire since then, sweeping four in the very tough Morabito Tournament, and getting revenge on Elmira 4-2 after losing their first couple of games against them.  They are playing at their peak right now, which is not good news for Horseheads.  However, Horseheads bounced back very well from the 6-0 loss to Corning, as they beat Susquehanna Valley to win the STAC Championship, and then took apart Binghamton in the AA semis.  Flip a coin between Rogers and Bennett, as both have made great hitters look silly this year.  Horeseheads has a few more games in double-digits, but I wouldn’t say that makes their lineup better than Corning.  It’s hard to find an advantage there either.  Horseheads will be the home team.  They were last year as well, and made a little noise in the 7th inning against Binghamton before a baserunning miscue really sealed their fate.  I’ll lean ever so slightly towards Corning with the advantage, mostly because they’re coming off a huge Morabito Tournament win, and getting revenge on Elmira.  This will be a great game.

 

* Class A Championship: #1 Maine-Endwell vs. #2 Union-Endicott, noon.  With only three teams qualifying in A, Maine-Endwell has been waiting around to play ever since they lost to Susquehanna Valley in the STAC Semi-final 4-3 back on May 14.  That was a game in which M-E’s Emily Hess, one of the best pitchers in all of New York, uncharacteristically walked in three runs in the 1st inning.  I would not bet on that happening in this game, or ever again for that matter.  M-E has won the last six A championships, which included a 7-4 nod over Union-Endicott in 2016.  U-E got here by holding off a game Vestal team 1-0, making a 3rd inning run hold up.  Amanda Kiser went the distance for the shutout.  These two teams have met three times already this year, twice in matchups inside the STAC Metro division (M-E won 9-3, and a day later U-E won 3-0), and once as a STAC division tiebreaker, dominated by M-E 8-0.  That win was M-E at their finest, going on the road and putting it all together, as Hess struck out 13 in a 2-hitter, Alli L’Amoreaux and Helena Layton both had three hits, and Amanda DeSantis had two hits with a walk.  Altogether, it was a 14-hit day for the Spartans.  Kayla Barnes started that day for U-E, and it seemed like one of those days in which she started off well, but one thing led to another and she fell apart.  She’s had many gems this season for the Tigers, however, so I would expect her to be at the top of her game if she gets the call on Saturday.  As much as M-E enjoyed being the top seed and getting a bye into the final, what U-E can be happy about is that they got to play in a meaningful game this week and survived.  That should keep them sharp for the challenge of facing M-E.  Even with the layoff, I will still lean towards M-E, as Hess has pitched in many “Win, or Go Home” games in her illustrious high school career.  If U-E can get a solid start out of either Kiser or Barnes, they can stay in this one and put some pressure on M-E.

 

* Class B Championship: #1 Susquehanna Valley vs. #2 Windsor, noon.  The top two seeds held up, though it almost didn’t happen that way.  Give Waverly lots of credit for taking Susquehanna Valley to the absolute limit for the second year in a row.  After Hannah Haskell’s walk-off, two-run homer won it in 8 innings last year, it was Sophia Pappas’s walk-off single doing the trick in 8 innings this year.  SV hasn’t been challenged a whole lot in the beginning of the year, but that has changed the last few games.  They suffered their first loss of the season in the championship of the Morabito Tournament to Corning 4-1, albeit with Pappas not on the mound.  They then beat M-E in the STAC Semi-finals 4-3, before losing to Horseheads in the championship 3-1 in 10 innings.  All of these tight games will only serve them well as they face a very hot Windsor.  After losing both games in the Mary Testa Tournament in Vestal, Windsor’s season appeared to be teetering a bit.  They then bounced back to beat Norwich 5-0, and have been playing great softball since then.  Right before sectionals started, they went to the Morabito Tournament and split four games against tough competition.  That experience got them more than ready for the Class B tournament, as they rolled by Dryden 21-0 and Chenango Forks 4-0.  It’s hard to play better than that.  These two teams are no strangers to championship games, as they’ve met the last two years in the Class B Championship and split.  Last year it was SV jumping out to an early 4-0 lead and never looking back.  For Windsor, they have to avoid an early hole like they put themselves into last year.  As good as Pappas was then, she’s even better this year.  It would be a really tall task if they have to fight back from a deficit.  It’s been over a month since the STAC East foes played each other, with SV winning both games 4-1 and 7-0.  In the second game, Pappas was intentionally walked three times, homered in her fourth at-bat, pitched a no-hitter, and struck out nine.  That’s quite a day.  Haskell drove in three and Maddie Tuttle added an RBI double.  Until a team in Class B proves otherwise, the edge goes to SV based on their nearly unhittable pitching and experienced squad full of seniors.  If I’m Windsor, I’m going into this game confident and ready to compete, though.  This is a team that has gotten better and better throughout the second half of the season, and should be ready to prove they belong.

 

* Class C Championship: #1 Edison vs. #6 Elmira Notre Dame, noon.  You see the number “6” next to Elmira Notre Dame?  Well, you can take that and throw it out the window, because this is not your prototypical 6 seed.  Let’s just consider them a top seed like Edison and move on.  After taking a couple of losses on back-to-back days to put their record at 7-6, Elmira ND has risen up and reminded everyone why they are such a force year in and year out.  They went on to post blowout wins over Watkins Glen and Newark Valley, were narrowly edged by Tioga, then beat Union Springs 5-0 before sectionals started.  They have won three straight tough contests over Odessa-Montour, Tioga (in 10 innings), and Union Springs, with the last two victories coming on the road.  That’s a sign that all of the young players on the roster this season have grown up.  Edison, on other hand, has been completely rolling through opponents all season long.  They easily won the Mudville Tournament earlier in the season, beat Union Springs 2-0 for the IAC Large School Championship, and defeated two MAC schools in Harpursville and Bainbridge-Guilford to reach this point.  Like a few other sectional title matchups, these teams are very familiar with each other from the regular season.  On May 1, Edison tied the game at 2-2 with a 6th inning rally, then won it on a walk-off single from KK Bush.  The next day was described as one of the craziest games of the season.  You really need to check out Andrew Legare’s recap of both games, as he pieces together the craziness that took place in Edison’s 9-6 win (to quickly summarize – a big lead built by Edison, a comeback by Elmira ND, an ejection, questionable calls, and two worn out teams by the end).  Edison’s only setback this season was to Union-Endicott at U-E’s home field in the Mary Testa Tournament, 2-1.  That lone run came in the top of the 7th, so Edison didn’t go quietly even against a much bigger school.  They are led by standout pitcher Bella Willsey, who’s coming off of consecutive shutouts.  Her opponent will be Izzy Milazzo, who has shown her senior leadership at the perfect time.  She outdueled Grace Vondracek of O-M, pitched all 10 innings of a huge win over Tioga, and beat Union Springs in a three-hitter on the road.  She’s battle tested and ready for a game like this, as she’s been a huge part of Elmira ND’s three straight Class C championships.  Edison will have to stick to their script of what got them here – solid pitching, big at-bats from players like Haley Maggs, Reegan Seeyle, and Mackenzie Bonyak, and solid gloves in the field.  They’re not 19-1 by accident, that’s for sure.  It’s hard to beat a good team three times in a season (as evidenced by Elmira-Corning and Tioga-Elmira ND), but I will still lean towards Edison based on the overall resume.  Boy will this be a great game to watch!

 

* Class D Championship: #1 Deposit vs. #3 Marathon, 2:00.  Of the five games happening on Saturday, this one appears to be the biggest mismatch.  If you’ve followed softball in this area even a little bit, you probably know how historic of a run Deposit has been on.  They’ve won the last three state championships, the last four sectional championships (and 6 of the last 7), and don’t appear to be slowing down anytime soon.  They’ve got Makenzie Stiles on the mound, which is good news for them, but bad news for everyone else considering she’s still only a junior.  She just struck out 20 of 21 hitters in a semi-final win over Gilboa, extending her state record with 12 perfect games for her career.  They have big bats in the lineup with the Martin sisters, among others.  They also have big game experience that cannot be matched.  Then you look at the flip slide in Marathon, a team that has been under the radar for the most part this season.  Results haven’t been easy to come by for them, but I do know they play some tough teams in the IAC, which are mostly Class C schools, and that has more than prepared them for a run in Class D sectionals.  In looking at a couple of games in particular against Harpursville and Moravia, they built up big leads only to relinquish them late.  Against Harpursville, they scored six in the top of the 7th just to give it all right back and lose in the bottom half.  In Moravia, an early 6-0 lead went away after surrendering 10 straight runs.  They must have learned their lesson from these defeats, because they’ve won three straight to get to the championship game after winning a wild 17-15 affair over Hancock.  Let’s put it like this – if Marathon somehow finds a way to win this game, it will be the biggest upset in a long, long time.  That’s taking nothing away from the Olympians, but rather giving full credit to how dominant a program Deposit is.  I wrote about this in my sectional preview a week ago, and I will repeat it now – Deposit will have to guard against looking ahead to the state tournament and stay in the moment.  If they can do that, as they’ve proven they can time and time again, they will have the edge in this one.

5/17/18

 

League championships have come and gone, so congrats once again to the following teams for winning: Horseheads (STAC), Deposit (MAC), Roxbury (Delaware), Schenevus (Tri-Valley), Edison (IAC Large), and Tioga (IAC Small).

 

Now it’s sectional season, where the mantra is simple – Win, or go home.  It doesn’t get much simpler than that.

 

Class AA, A, and B get going next week, and C and D today and tomorrow.  Let’s break it down in all classes with a sectional preview.

 

Class AA

* Top 4 seeds: Horseheads, Elmira, Corning, Binghamton

* Number of teams qualified: 4

* 1st round matchups: #4 Binghamton at #1 Horseheads, #3 Corning at #2 Elmira

* Dates of games: Semi-finals – 5/23; Championship – 5/26

* Most intriguing 1st round game: #4 Binghamton at #1 Horseheads. There’s only two to choose from, and they’re both intriguing (Corning vs. Elmira is the other one).  Horseheads vs. Binghamton is a rematch of the last three sectional finals, all won by Binghamton.  Last year it was a close 2-0 win in which Binghamton took control late to win.  These teams are no strangers to each other, both playing in the STAC West division, and Horseheads won both games 7-1 and 7-6.  The more recent game was the closer one, as Horseheads finally got to play on their new softball field, overcame a big early deficit, and battled back to win.  Binghamton has a number of one-run losses this year to Corning, Elmira, Maine-Endwell, Union-Endicott, Susquehanna Valley, and Horseheads.  That tells me they’re knocking on the door of winning, just haven’t kicked it down.  Horseheads just beat SV for the STAC Championship, so they’re riding a high.  It wouldn’t be a sectional tournament without these two teams tangling, and I’d expect another close battle.

* Other thoughts: Elmira owns a pair of 3-0 wins over Corning this season, which helped propel the Express to the #2 seed and a home game in this one.  Their second game was terrific, as it was scoreless until the 10th when Elmira struck for three, then Bella Reese struck out two straight with the bases loaded to hold off Corning’s charge.  Corning bounced back from a narrow 2-1 defeat to Maine-Endwell to sweep four and win the Morabito Tournament in Herkimer, which is very impressive.  Much like Horseheads vs. Binghamton, I wouldn’t be surprised to see this one drag out until the very end.

 

Class A

* Top 3 seeds: Maine-Endwell, Union-Endicott, Vestal

* Number of teams qualified: 3

* 1st round matchup: #3 Vestal at #2 Union-Endicott (#1 M-E receives a bye)

* Dates of games: Semi-finals – 5/23; Championship – 5/26

* Most intriguing 1st round game: #3 Vestal at #2 Union-Endicott.  Well, it’s the only first round game considering three teams made the tournament.  So it’s not exactly a tough choice.  They’ve played twice, and U-E has dominated with wins of 9-1 and 11-1.  U-E also had a chance to make the STAC playoffs, but fell in a Metro division tiebreaker to Maine-Endwell.  U-E has enjoyed a great season with 14 wins, but did suffer a setback to Chenango Forks after losing to M-E, and fell to Elmira about a week ago.  Vestal had a great win over Corning recently, although they followed that up with the 11-1 loss to U-E.  These teams are no strangers to each other, as they have intense battles in every sport.  U-E will have the advantage, but if Vestal can find that magic that they had against Corning, they have a chance.

* Other thoughts: There’s not a whole lot else to analyze in a three-team tournament.  M-E lost to Susquehanna Valley in the STAC Semi-final, but still have a free pass to the championship.  That free pass was more than earned, however, based on another fantastic regular season.  They’ve played twice and won pretty easily 14-1 and 6-0, and have won two of three against U-E.  Emily Hess and her crew will anxiously await the winner of Vestal vs. U-E.

 

Class B

* Top 4 seeds: Susquehanna Valley, Windsor, Owego, Oneonta

* Number of teams qualified: 7

* 1st round matchups: #7 Dryden at #2 Windsor, #6 Chenango Forks at #3 Owego, #5 Waverly at #4 Oneonta (#1 SV receives a bye)

* Dates of games: Quarterfinals – 5/22; Semi-finals – 5/24; Championship – 5/26

* Most intriguing 1st round game: #5 Waverly at #4 Oneonta.  Of all the games scheduled in the first round throughout Section IV, this is the one I’m most intrigued by.  If you look at the records (Waverly 12-4, Oneonta 8-7), you would think that Waverly is the home team.  But strength of schedule comes into play here, and as is often the case for Waverly playing against smaller schools in the IAC compared to STAC, they have to hit the road.  That didn’t seem to bother Waverly last year, as both teams were in this exact same scenario, and they came out on top 4-1.  Wendi Hammond was huge in that game, pitching a one-hitter and driving in two runs.  Oneonta started off this season red hot at 4-0 with a couple of big wins over Chenango Forks and Windsor, but have definitely cooled as of late.  They’re coming into sectionals on the heels of three straight defeats to Susquehanna Valley, Windsor, and SV again by the scores of 37-2.  Those are two tough schools for anyone to beat, but those numbers still pop out.  Waverly just missed out on playing in the IAC Large School Championship after a couple of close losses to Edison, but have enjoyed another stellar season.  They’ve proven they can compete against bigger schools, as they took SV to the limit in the Quarterfinals last year before losing in 8 innings.  And just like last year, the winner of this game has a ticket to SV in the Semis.  If Waverly can shake off the bus ride and bring their bats, they have to like their chances of advancing.

* Other thoughts: I would definitely keep an eye on Windsor at the bottom of the bracket as the #2 seed.  They’ve played some great softball lately, splitting four games in the very tough Morabito Tournament, and downing teams like Oneonta and Chenango Forks.  They were a bit up and down to start the season, and could’ve folded after losing both games in the Mary Testa Tournament, but have fought back very well.  Owego getting a home game against Chenango Forks is another intriguing game.  Owego plays a pretty brutal schedule being in the Metro division, so they’re hoping all of that experience pays off now that they’re playing against Class B schools exclusively.  Forks just beat Union-Endicott, and have pretty much traded wins and losses on and off all season long.  That will be a good game.  If everything holds up, it’ll be the third straight year of SV vs. Windsor in the championship, as both teams have split the last two.

 

Class C

* Top 4 seeds: Edison, Union Springs, Tioga, Bainbridge-Guilford

* Number of teams qualified: 12

* 1st round matchups: #12 Trumansburg at #5 Moravia, #11 Odessa-Montour at #6 Elmira Notre Dame, #10 Greene at #7 Sidney, #9 Seton at #10 Harpursville (Top 4 seeds have byes)

* Dates of games: 1st round – 5/17, 5/18; Quarterfinals – 5/22; Semi-finals – 5/24; Championship – 5/26

* Most intriguing 1st round game: #11 Odessa-Montour at #6 Elmira Notre Dame.  These teams tangled back on April 11, and Elmira ND just squeaked out a 5-4 victory.  Jordyn Fargo, who has plenty of big hits in her career, hit a sacrifice fly to score the winning run.  Simply put, Elmira ND is used to winning a lot of games.  This year, however, it’s been a little different than normal, and that’s only because they’ve built the bar so high for themselves.  They finished the regular season 10-7 one year after going 21-1.  Like any high school, they had to replace some big names like Mackenzie Maloney, Maura Glovins, and Mackenzie Mahajan, and it hasn’t been so easy.  Still, they recently picked up a win over Union Springs, and have a few close losses to Edison, Waverly, and Tioga.  Odessa-Montour is 8-7, and has Grace Vondracek on the mound, who just pitched a no-hitter over Watkins Glen with 16 strikeouts.  The pressure is squarely on Elmira ND, as they’re the ones who ran through all of Section IV last year, and have won the last three Class C championships after losing to Edison in 2014.  If Vondracek is on her game, then O-M has to like their chances of pulling the road upset.

* Other thoughts: Another interesting game could take place in the Quarterfinals if Moravia meets Bainbridge-Guilford.  Moravia was just hammered in the IAC Small School Championship by Tioga 21-2, so we’ll see if there’s any lingering effects.  Tioga will play the winner of Elmira ND and O-M, and they have handled each of those teams in recent games.  B-G has only lost two games this season against Deposit, but landed on the same side of the bracket as Edison, who are playing some terrific softball right now after winning the IAC Large School Championship over Union Springs.  That would be a real tough Semi-final matchup for B-G, who would have to make the long trip to the Elmira area.  Tioga is the #3 seed, but they have to love their chances of going to the championship game after the way they’ve been playing of late.  There’s a potential for some really good Semi-final matchups if the top 4 seeds win in the Quarterfinals.

 

Class D

* Top 4 seeds: Deposit, Laurens, Marathon, Gilboa

* Number of teams qualified: 16

* 1st round matchups: #16 Worcester at #1 Deposit, #15 Morris at #2 Laurens, #14 Cherry Valley-Springfield at #3 Marathon, #13 South Kortright at #4 Gilboa, #12 Davenport at #5 Roxbury, #11 Richfield Springs at #6 Schenevus, #10 Milford at #7 Hancock, #9 Downsville at #8 Afton

* Dates of games: 1st round – 5/17, 5/18; Quarterfinals – 5/22; Semi-finals – 5/24; Championship – 5/26

* Most intriguing 1st round game: #11 Richfield Springs at #6 Schenevus.  Why not?  It’s a rematch already of the Tri-Valley Championship, won by Schenevus 9-4.  I’m not sure I’ve seen something like this before, where a league championship game is immediately followed by a rematch in sectionals.  Schenevus has the edge psychologically based on the Tri-Valley title win, but let’s not forget that Richfield Springs beat Laurens to get to that game.  Laurens is #2 seed in Class D, so that’s no joke.  As I stated in my championship game preview between these two, both sides can really put runs on the board, but it will be the team that can get some outs in a row that will be the difference.  The revenge factor is there for Richfield Springs, which should motivate them.

* Other thoughts: Let’s be honest here – I just don’t see how in the world Deposit cannot come out on top in this.  They defeated two really, really good Edmeston teams the last couple of years to win Class D, leading them to state championships.  With all due respect to the other 15 teams, there’s no one like Edmeston in here this year.  That’s not to say upsets can’t happen, because of course they can.  These are high school kids, and anything is possible!  Deposit has to guard against overconfidence and looking ahead to June.  It’s easy to do just that in their position, as they know their resume is much stronger than the rest.  Teams like Afton, Roxbury, and Gilboa could potentially be in their way, and they all have strong wins this year.  On the other side of the bracket, Laurens will have to bounce back from a shocking loss in the Tri-Valley Semi-finals to Richfield Springs.  That will either be wake-up call that they needed, or put them down for the count.  A potential Hancock vs. Laurens matchup in the Quarterfinals would be a good one to watch.

5/15/18

 

I love this part of the softball season for a couple of reasons: 1. It’s championship season, so every game counts that much more.  2. The weather is finally decent enough to watch!

 

There’s a few league championship games coming up, so let’s take a look at them.

 

* STAC Championship - Wednesday, 4:30 at Chenango Valley: West champion Horseheads vs. East champion Susquehanna Valley.  It’s been quite a few days for SV.  They started off by playing four games in the prestigious Morabito Tournament in Herkimer, won three of them before taking their first loss of the season to Corning in the championship (Sophia Pappas did not pitch that game), then came right back the next day to beat 2-time defending Class A state champion Maine-Endwell, 4-3.  SV was on the good end of some very uncharacteristic control problems from M-E’s Emily Hess, as three runs were walked in during the 1st inning.  Let’s go out on a limb and say that wasn’t exactly in the scouting report.  Nonetheless, SV broke a 3-3 tie by scoring on a wild pitch to take the lead for good at 4-3, and waiting for them now is Horseheads.  Horseheads is ranked 5th in the state in Class AA, and are looking to get over the hump this year after losing to M-E 2-1 in last year’s STAC final.  One common opponent between them is Binghamton.  Horseheads has two wins over Binghamton by the scores of 7-1 and 7-6, and SV beat them in the final of the Mary Testa Tournament at Chenango Valley 5-4.  They play very different schedules from each other, so there’s not many other comparisons to make.  Horseheads has a very deep lineup that puts up a bunch of runs, and Maddie Rogers is very talented on the mound.  SV counters with Pappas, who does a whole lot to help SV win.  She’s good enough to carry SV on a day they’re not getting runners on base much.  SV got by M-E, and now Horseheads is a whole new challenge.  Names like Alli Richmond, Tess Cites, Lacey O’Donnell, and Maiah Skakel (among a few others) will make Pappas earn every single out she can get.  One important factor to note is that this game is played at a neutral field in Chenango Valley, where it’s a turf infield.  Pappas has pitched there a handful of times the last few seasons, which has to play to her advantage in a game like this.  If Rogers can avoid the 1st inning shakiness that did in M-E, then Horseheads will like their chances.  I don’t see much scoring in this game, but if I had to find an advantage, I’d lean a bit towards SV because of their experience on the turf and ability for Pappas to throw blanks.

 

* Tri-Valley Championship - Wednesday, 4:30 at Oneonta State: #2 Schenevus vs. #4 Richfield Springs.  Let’s give a whole bunch of credit to Richfield Springs.  I’m not sure how many people thought they stood a chance in beating Laurens, but they obviously believed in themselves.  If you took a close look at the scores, you’d see that Richfield Springs beat Laurens in both of their first game of the season, and Laurens got red hot right after that.  To take down the #1 seed is an incredible accomplishment.  Now the question is, are they happy to be in the championship game after an upset win, or hungry to win again?  Standing in their way is Schenevus, who overcame a 15-3 deficit to shock Milford, 20-19.  Just like Richfield Springs, that’s an emotionally draining game.  Both teams are probably very happy to have a day off in between games, just to rest and regather.  It’s no surprise to me that when I looked at results from this year, these two teams played a tight one in which Schenevus won 9-8.  Pitching will play a big part in this game.  I get the feeling that if either side can ride a pitcher who’s getting outs, they have the advantage.  Richfield Springs rode Kristen Hess for 8 innings against Laurens, and Schenevus started Alexis Hults, then made four changes after that, and still managed to win thanks to their offense.  Scoring is not a problem for either team, as they’ve both feasted on Tri-Valley pitching all season long.  Both have also showed the ability to fight back from early deficits.  Like the STAC Championship, this game will be played on a neutral field at Oneonta State.  I’ll give a slight edge to Schenevus, only because their offense is really good, and I can’t imagine they’d run into the pitching problems they faced against Milford.  On the other hand, Richfield Springs will continue riding their high of beating the 14th ranked team in Class D, Laurens.  Expect plenty of fireworks in this one.

 

* IAC Large School Championship - Wednesday, 5:00 at Cornell University: Edison vs. Union Springs.  This will be a rematch from the first game of the season in which Edison won 11-0.  I wouldn’t read too much into that game, however.  The date was April 2, and if I take a wild guess, it was probably cold, snowy, or both.  Union Springs more than bounced back after that loss, and ended any speculation that they would have a down season after Grace Van Horn graduated last year.  It’s impressive how well they’ve played.  Speaking of impressive, Edison has been terrific from the first pitch of the season on.  They’re led by Bella Willsey on the mound.  She recently shut down a very good Waverly team, allowing one unearned run, striking out 12, and walking none.  Those numbers all jump out.  Union Springs will give the ball to Bailey Mudge, who recently signed to play softball next year at Fredonia.  She might not have the gaudy numbers of Willsey, but has been right there for wins this year over teams like Moravia and Dryden.  If there’s an advantage for Edison, it’s that their IAC schedule was tougher than Union Springs’.  Edison has to play Elmira Notre Dame and Waverly twice, and they’re an amazing 4-0 in those games.  I bet there’s very few years that has happened for anyone.  I’ll lean towards Edison with the advantage in this one, as they’ve gathered one big win after another this season, and are looking to claim their 3rd Large School championship since 2014.  Mudge will have to pitch very well for Union Springs to stay in this one and have a chance at the end, something she is capable of doing.

 

* IAC Small School Championship - Wednesday, 3:00 at Cornell University: Moravia vs. Tioga.  I guess the IAC schedule makers knew exactly what they were doing.  Just like the Large School Championship between Edison and Union Springs, the Small School Championship is also a rematch from the first game of the season.  Talk about foretelling the future!  In their first meeting, Tioga got the best of Moravia 12-3.  Mariah Culver got the start, Madalyn Dydynski pitched in relief, and they combined to allow one earned run, two hits, and 16 strikeouts.  Culver was a little shaky with seven walks, but it was the first game of the season after spending weeks practicing inside, keep in mind.  Since then, Moravia has played some great softball, highlighted by a 10-game winning streak before losing to Union Springs.  Tioga has been rolling all season long at 16-2.  They’ve only suffered close losses to Edison and Vestal, and have beaten great teams in Waverly and Elmira Notre Dame.  On paper, Tioga has the advantage, as they have two legit aces in Culver and Dydynski who can put up big numbers on the mound at any given point.  Moravia has Maddie Funk, who started last year’s championship game against Tioga and took the loss.  In looking back at the game, she was cruising through the first couple of innings before everything unraveled in the 3rd.  If Moravia wants to win this game, they have to avoid a big inning like that game, where Tioga scored six in the 3rd and eight in the 5th.  Funk is much more experienced now, so if she can hold the Tigers’ offense down and frustrate them, Moravia has a good chance of keeping it close and winning.  Tioga, which has won the last four Small School championships by a combined score of 46-3, will rely on their power pitching and bats to carry them again.

5/11/18

 

The MAC Championship is all set, and it’s a rematch of last year’s title game – Deposit vs. Bainbridge-Guilford.  In that game, Deposit came out on top 2-0, thanks to a complete game, one-hit, 16 strikeout performance by Makenzie Stiles, and a two-run homer by Bryn Martin.  It was a tight game then, and I expect a tight game now.

 

Over in STAC, Maine-Endwell downed Union-Endicott 8-0 to advance to the semi-finals against Susquehanna Valley.  The winner gets a home game against Horseheads on Wednesday for the championship.

 

Let’s take a look at both games.

 

* MAC Championship – #2 Bainbridge-Guilford at #1 Deposit.  After playing Deposit tighter than nearly any other team last year, B-G will look to finally get over the hump and win their first ever MAC Championship this time around.  B-G’s record is an incredible 16-1, including a pair of wins in both the Mudville and SFCU Tournaments.  That one loss?  You guessed it – Deposit, as the Lumberjacks defeated them 10-0 back on April 23.  That was an interesting game in which B-G did not start their ace Kori Thornton, instead giving the ball to Morgan Neidig and Alli Miller in relief.  Unless there was some sort of injury or other reason, it’s hard to think that was not purely a strategic move so Deposit did not have a look at Thornton.  Deposit rolled with Stiles as usual, and she struck out 12 in a four-hitter.  Bryn Martin, just like the title game last year, was huge in this one with two doubles, a triple, and four runs driven in.  There’s a key for B-G right away – don’t let this Martin sister beat them.  There’s still plenty of other weapons Deposit can use, but when Bryn Martin has been this successful against them, it’s best to pitch her very carefully.  B-G will have to do their best to ignore their earlier meeting, even with the lopsided score.  In their minds, they have to say that they’ve won eight games since then, and are ready for the challenge.  For Deposit, they have zero reason to change their formula, which has been good enough to beat nearly everyone in their way for the past four seasons (the lone exceptions are a few bigger schools).  Stiles keeps runners off base, and if they do put the ball in play, has a solid defense behind her.  B-G has nothing to lose in this – they are a Class C school, so they will not have to face Class D Deposit in sectionals.  If Thornton brings her “A” game, which is more than capable of doing, and someone like Megan Palmatier can make noise at the plate, then B-G can stay in this game and pull off the upset.  If Deposit scores some runs right away, it’s almost impossible to see them losing.

 

* STAC Semi-final – East champion Susquehanna Valley at Metro champion Maine-Endwell.  Talk about an intriguing pitching matchup, this is it.  In one corner you have Sophia Pappas, owner one no-hitter after another, and inked to play at Division I Binghamton next season.  In the other corner you have Emily Hess, a two-time state champion, Player of the Year, and also signed to play at a Division I school next year, Florida Gulf Coast.  It doesn’t get much better than that.  What’s great about both of these players is just how well-rounded they are, as both can deliver huge hits at the plate as well.  Needless to say, it will probably come down to which lady gets the better of the other.  However, they’re both so evenly matched, it’s hard to see one with a clear advantage.  For M-E, their advantage as a team is the schedule they play, as they have to tangle with bigger schools and deeper lineups all season long.  That’s to take nothing away from SV, as they can only control the opponents in front of them, and they have yet to lose to one, with the Morabito Tournament in Mudville coming up this weekend.  The supporting casts for each will have to get someone to step up.  M-E has names like Meredith Rose, Alli L’Amoreaux, and Amanda DeSantis – SV counters with the Haskell sisters (Hannah and Michaela), Olivia Parker, and Shawna Zawiski, among others names from both sides who contribute.  This might be the perfect time to declare that the first team to score has a 99% chance to win.  With M-E being the home team, I’ll give the very slight edge to them.  Both teams are ready for this one, and I can’t wait to see how it all shakes out.

5/9/18

 

There’s a couple of playoff matchups set, so let’s take a look at them.

 

* Delaware League Championship: Roxbury vs. Gilboa.  Both teams have really turned heads this year, as they outlasted both teams in last year’s championship game, Davenport and Downsville.  Since 2008, Roxbury owns the championship advantage over Gilboa 3-2.  The pitching matchup will be great.  Gilboa is led by Abigail Tompkins, as she has delivered time and time again.  Roxbury counters with Claire McDaniel, owner of a perfect game back on April 27 in a 19-0 win over Windham, along with countless other wins this year.  What’s interesting to note is that both offenses have often put up double-digits, albeit against pitchers most likely not the caliber of Tompkins and McDaniel.  I’d be very surprised if that trend continues, as it’s hard to see either pitcher letting that happen.  It’s hard to see who has the advantage here, so call it a toss-up and enjoy the action.  They really are that evenly matched.

 

* MAC Semi-Final: #4 Greene vs. #1 Deposit.  Greene will get the unenviable task of trying to stop the machine known as Deposit.  We know quite a bit about Deposit by now: 3-time defending Class D state champions, reigning MAC champions, winner of game after game after game.  They’ve got Makenzie Stiles on the mound, the Martin sisters getting lots of hits, and a style of softball that is hard to match.  Greene will try to be the first MAC team to beat them in…I have no idea.  It didn’t happen this year, and it didn’t happen last year either.  Maybe two years ago?  Three years ago?  Who knows?  Anyway, these teams met on April 30, and Greene “only” lost 6-0.  Stiles threw another no-hitter with 13 strikeouts.  In looking at the box score of that game, Greene gave up a 4-run inning in the 3rd, and a deuce in the 6th.  What starter Olivia Kennedy and her defense will have to try to do is limit those big innings, and maybe put the pressure on the other side.  If Greene’s defense can make the necessary plays, find a way to put baserunners on against Stiles and disrupt her, they have a chance.  But it will be very tough.

 

* MAC Semi-Final: #3 Harpursville vs. #2 Bainbridge-Guilford.  This is a fun matchup considering that when they met this year, B-G just barely got the win 7-6.  The game before for B-G, they suffered their only loss of the season at the hands of Deposit 10-0.  Perhaps they were still a bit reeling from that, and Harpursville came *this* close to taking advantage of it?  There could be at least some truth to that.  In that game, B-G got out to a 7-0 lead going into the bottom of the 4th, and then appeared to come somewhat unraveled.  Kori Thornton came out after the 4th, and Morgan Neidig just had enough to hold on.  Thornton, however, owns a no-hitter in each of the last two seasons.  She actually has two this year, combining with a couple teammates for one earlier in the year, before doing it all herself on April 11 over Delhi.  Harley Bunker is recently coming off of an impressive shutout of Afton, holding them to five hits.  Both teams have deep lineups that can put up runs, but again, at this time of year, the pitching gets better and better.  B-G has a slight advantage being at home and with a terrific record of 15-1, but if Harpursville can score some runs early, they have to like their chances of pulling the upset.

5/6/18

 

The last two weeks have been a whirlwind, with everyone trying their best to squeeze in as many games as possible.  But this is New York, and that’s the way it is.  It’s an exciting part of year for high school sports, as the last local and state tournaments are about to begin.  This week alone will see the Delaware, MAC, and STAC champions crowned (barring another weather related change).  Tri-Valley and IAC take center stage next week.

 

Before I look at which teams are in the thick of the playoff races, I recently posted on Twitter how Section III has decided to waive the “40% and 50%” rule about qualifying for sectionals, and instead made it an “open” tournament.  I asked if Section IV should follow suit and do the same.  I would assume that decision would have already been made if it has, so it’s probably a no.  I got a reply that made a lot of sense: Class AA and A should always be an open tournament because there’s so few schools, and at the very least should not allow any team to get a bye into the sectional final.

 

I see both sides to this.  This year, AA and A are broken down like this: AA – Elmira, Corning, Binghamton, Ithaca, and Horseheads, A – Union-Endicott, Vestal, Johnson City, Maine-Endwell.  Let’s start with AA.  As of now, Elmira, Corning, and Horseheads will easily get in.  Binghamton and Ithaca have some work to do.  Suppose only the first three schools get in, then does it make sense to add in a team like Binghamton to ensure there is a proper semi-finals?  One could argue that Binghamton should have to earn their way in based on the regular season, but others could point to their close losses to prove that they are a competitive team.

 

In A, Union-Endicott and Maine-Endwell will get in with ease.  Vestal will be close, while Johnson City has fallen too far behind.  According to the current formula, there’s no way we will see a proper 4-team bracket.

 

I’ve always leaned towards the thought process of earning your way into the postseason tournament (sectionals).  I do think it places more of an importance on winning big games in the regular season against your division opponents (who are right in or around the same class as you).  However, as @vestalfbcoaches pointed out to me, “This isn’t the BCS, it’s high school sports.”  That’s something everyone needs to remember. 

 

My solution would be to take four teams minimum for both AA and A, which gives the postseason a proper semi-final and final (which I also took from @vestalfbcoaches, so thanks for the suggestion).  No more getting a bye into the championship game.  That bye was earned by a great regular season, don’t get me wrong.  Nothing is being taken away from that.  But like Class B, C, and D have to go through, at least play one additional game before the opportunity to win a championship.  I think that would be fair to everyone.

 

Now, onto a look at teams in the MAC, STAC, and Delaware with playoff possibilities.  (Note that I do not have actually playoff seeds or matchups yet.  I am merely speculating on which teams would contend for a league championship.)

 

* MAC: There’s two teams far away separating themselves from the pack – Deposit and Bainbridge-Guilford.  Deposit has been destroying everyone, and has only lost to defending Class C state champion Bishop Kearney, a red hot Union-Endicott squad, and a top Class B team in Oneida.  In other words, the losses are only to bigger schools.  B-G has one blemish this year to Deposit.  That was a game back on April 23 that saw Kori Thornton of B-G not get the ball.  Makenzie Stiles did get it and struck out 12 in a four-hitter.  This clearly looks to be the path we’re heading towards.  Can anyone stop them?  It’s always possible.  Deposit’s closest games in the MAC this year were beating Harpursville 5-0 and Greene 6-0.  For B-G, they’ve had a few closer calls by beating Afton and Hancock 3-0, Harpursville 7-6, and more recently Sidney 3-1.  That’s a great sign for them that they can win so many close games.  Deposit and B-G will control their own destiny.

 

* STAC: There was a realignment in STAC this year, as we’re down from four divisions to three across the board.  So I’ll break it down per division and look at the races.

            - Metro: It’s a dogfight at the top, with Union-Endicott just edging Maine-Endwell by a game for the division lead.  Assuming this holds up, it would be crazy to think M-E, the defending STAC, section, and state champions, might not even make the league playoffs.  Both these teams played this week and split.  There’s still a handful of games left, so they could trade spots back and forth at the top.

            - West: Horseheads is in the lead, but lurking right behind them are Corning and Elmira.  Corning did themselves a huge favor with a big 6-0 win over the Blue Raiders on Friday.  Still, they have four STAC loses, mostly coming earlier in the year.  Just this week, Elmira beat Corning 3-0, as they’ve won their last five.  The big advantage for Horseheads is that they defeated Elmira in both matchups this season, and have now split with Corning.  They control their own fate from here on out.

            - East: While the Metro and West only have five teams, the East has seven.  But it does make sense considering the East is full of Class B teams, and the other divisions are AA and A (lone exception being Owego as a Class B school in the West).  There isn’t a whole lot to analyze here.  Susquehanna Valley is clearly the queen of the division, as they haven’t lost a game all year, including an impressive 5-4 win over Binghamton in the championship of the Mary Testa Tournament at Chenango Valley.  The next closest is Oneonta, but SV just disposed of them 12-0.  SV will be back in the STAC playoffs.

 

* Delaware: In years past, the Delaware League has been broken up into the Upper Delaware and Delaware Mountain.  But then I saw a list of standings this week in The Catskill Mountain News that listed this as one division.  The Section IV Handbook makes it appear as if it’s still two divisions, though it also has four division for STAC, which I know is wrong (it’s only three).  So you can see why I’m a bit confused.  If anyone from Delaware can confirm the truth, please reach out to me.   For the sake of this preview, I will consider the league as having two division still.  If it's only one division, well, these four teams are still the ones I'd discuss anyway.

            - Upper Delaware: Of the scores I have seen reported, it looks like Davenport will earn their way back in.  They won last year’s Delaware League Championship 8-7 over Downsville, making it two straight years they have beaten Downsville.  No other team in the division appears to be close to catching them.

            - Delaware Mountain: Gilboa has enjoyed a great season, as they’ve picked up big wins over Downsville and Davenport earlier this season.  Downsville dropped a couple to start the year, but have been red hot as of late with their offense putting up nearly 20 runs a game.  Roxbury is almost a carbon copy of Downsville in that they win a lot and score bunches of runs.  This is shaping up to be a good race.

 

* I always like to take a look ahead to big games this week, so let’s do it:

            - Monday: Elmira vs. Union-Endicott, Windsor vs. Oneonta, Roxbury vs. Jefferson, Davenport vs. Gilboa, Milford vs. Schenevus

            - Tuesday: Union Springs vs. Moravia, Davenport vs. Downsville, Schenevus vs. Morris

            - Wednesday: Corning vs. Binghamton, Elmira Notre Dame vs. Tioga

            - Thursday: Binghamton vs. Horseheads, Maine-Endwell vs. Corning, Susquehanna Valley vs. Oneonta, Waverly vs. Edison, Elmira Notre Dame vs. Union Springs

            - Friday: Elmira vs. Binghamton, Laurens vs. Davenport

            - Saturday: Corning, Windsor, and Susquehanna Valley play in the Morabito Tournament in Mudville

 

* That’s it for now.  Enjoy another great week of softball!

4/29/18

 

With the weather more spring-like this week, there were lots of regularly scheduled and rescheduled games.  Let’s dive in and take a look.

 

* I’m a big fan of the Mary Testa Tournament.  There’s 20 games played at four different sites in one day, and it continually matches up some of the best teams across Section IV.  It’s especially cool to see some of the more dominant smaller schools like Deposit, Edison, and Tioga get a chance to play the bigger schools like Union-Endicott and Vestal.  This will only benefit the smaller schools in the long run, as all three of the ones I mentioned went 1-1 on the day, but picked up valuable experience (not to mention solid points for sectionals).  Deposit edged Chenango Forks 2-0, then lost to undefeated Union-Endicott 4-3 on a walk-off in a Class A vs. Class D matchup.  Edison dropped their first game of the season to U-E 2-1, then immediately fought back with a big win over Forks, 9-2.  Tioga took down Tunkhannock from Pennsylvania 8-6, then lost a terrific game to Vestal 4-3 in 9 innings.  If I’m those smaller school teams, I’d much rather play a big school and take them to the limit in a loss rather than pounding on a school their size and not getting a whole lot out of it.

 

* If I’m a coach at a Class C or D school next year, and I know I have the horses on the team to compete, I’m doing what I can to get scheduled in the Mary Testa in 2019 and begging to be matched up against a larger STAC school.  They’ll be happy they did come sectional time.

 

* There were a couple of big league championship rematches during the week.  The first was Deposit beating Bainbridge-Guilford 10-0 in the MAC.  That was B-G’s first blemish of the season.  A close look at the box score reveals that B-G did not use their top pitcher, Kori Thornton.  Perhaps they’re saving her for a potential MAC Championship rematch?  It would appear to be so.  The other was Horseheads downing Maine-Endwell 10-1 in STAC.  That was a surprising result, mostly because you’re not used to seeing a score like that when Emily Hess of M-E is on the mound.  But even the best of the best can have a slip-up, so credit Horseheads for putting together lots of great at-bats.  M-E bounced back nicely by beating Elmira and Abington Heights to win their version of the Mary Testa Tournament.  Horseheads plays one tough team after another, but continue to get a lot of big wins.

 

* How about the number of no-hitters and perfect games this year?  A peak at the “No-Hitters” page shows 15 no-hitters, with 7 of those being perfect games.  And those are just the ones that get reported; it’s very possible there’s more that I haven’t been told about.  The pitching in Section IV is just amazing.  Makenzie Stiles, Izzy Milazzo, Sophia Pappas, Lexi Easling, Olivia DeMott, Wendi Hammond, Claire McDaniel and Thornton are some of the names listed as being flawless this year.  There’s a few more who are just as good but don’t have no-hitters (that I know of) like Mikayla Pourby, Kayla Barnes, Madison Rogers, Bella Reese, Bella Willsey, Mariah Culver, Madalyn Dydynski, and Hess.  Even then I still feel like I’m leaving some names out.  Nonetheless, if you want to make a deep run in sectionals and the state tournament, you need that ace on the mound.  Section IV has plenty of ladies ready to take the ball and lead the way into June.

 

* What other teams are catching my eye this year?  I’ll start with one out in the Delaware League, Gilboa.  They’ve taken down Downsville, Davenport, South Kortright, and Windham with relative ease.  The South Kortright win was especially big considering the Rams were destroying opponents to start the season, and Gilboa still beat them 31-6 in an incredible offensive display.  They won two straight Delaware titles in 2013 and 2014, and could very well be on the verge of another one.

 

* Roxbury is another team in the Delaware League that has played great.  They dropped their first game to South Kortright, but have turned things around since then with wins by the scores of 19-4, 19-0, and 24-1.  That’s some serious offense.  And they have a seriously good pitcher on the mound in Claire McDaniel, who threw a perfect game against Windham this week.  Three years ago they won the Delaware League, so like Gilboa, they’ll look to get back into that championship game.  We could get a preview of that when Gilboa travels to Roxbury on Thursday.

 

* Over in the Tri-Valley, two teams that jump out to me are Laurens and Schenevus.  Both teams have put up bunches of runs and look to be separating themselves a bit from the pack.  Let’s be honest here – the last few years was not an even playing field, as Edmeston just completely overwhelmed anyone in their way.  After winning the last five Tri-Valley championships, graduation has hit the Panthers hard after last season, and they’re seeing how tough life can be with names like Catherine Johnson, Sarah Lawrence, and Rachel Greene gone.  It’s the reality of high school sports – even the best programs can hit a lull and have to restock talent to compete at a high level again.  Laurens fell to Edmeston in the Tri-Valley championship last year, but have to like their chances of getting over the hump this time around.

 

* I mentioned Union-Endicott in a previous blog, but they’re well worth discussing again.  They got the home field advantage on Saturday for the Mary Testa Tournament, but still had to fight off two very tough smaller schools in Edison (2-1) and Deposit (4-3).  They started the week in beating a good team in Corning 5-2, then got a couple wins over Johnson City, one over Vestal, and then the two wins in the Testa.  In the Corning and Vestal wins, Kayla Barnes and Amanda Kier went the distance, respectively.  On offense, names like Taylor Mischler, Abby Mancini, Ashley Rogers, and Maddie Bendert provide the punch.  This is a dangerous team in both STAC and Class A going forward.  They do, however, have a couple of big tests this week with away and home games against Maine-Endwell on Monday and Tuesday.  Those will be great games to see, in addition to it very well being a sectional championship preview in Class A.

 

* It looks like we’ll be getting lots of sun and, believe it or not… WARMTH this week!  Unbelievable!  With the regular season winding down, let’s peak at some big games coming up

            - Monday: Union-Endicott vs. Maine-Endwell, Horseheads vs. Binghamton, Owego vs. Corning, Deposit vs. Greene

            - Tuesday: Maine-Endwell vs. Union-Endicott, Bainbridge-Guilford vs. Greene, Deposit vs. Hancock, Laurens vs. Schenevus, Roxbury vs. Davenport, Elmira Notre Dame vs. Edison

            - Wednesday: Elmira vs. Corning, Union-Endicott vs. Binghamton, Roxbury vs. Downsville, Edison vs. Elmira Notre Dame

            - Thursday: Maine-Endwell vs. Corning, Gilboa vs. Roxbury

            - Friday: Corning vs. Horseheads, Oneonta vs. Susquehanna Valley, Edison vs. Waverly

 

* League playoffs and sectional play will start to take over once we’re about halfway through May, so enjoy the regular season while it lasts.  Until next week!

4/22/18

 

Bad weather wiped out games on Monday and Tuesday, but the signs of spring were finally here later in the week.  Let’s take a look at the week that was in Section IV.

 

* The top story belonged to Makenzie Stiles of Deposit.  Still only a junior, she’s already set the state record for career perfect games with 11, breaking the tie with Chelsea Plimpton of Williamsville South.  This time it was Stiles shutting down Unadilla Valley 15-0 in 5 innings, her second perfect game of the season (19-0 over Walton back on April 9 was the other one).  It’s scary to think of where she can end up by the time she graduates a year from June.  She’s won three straight Class D state championships along with being a three-time reigning state Player of the Year.  Congratulations once again to her on this incredible accomplishment.

 

* As for the rest of the league she plays in, the MAC, there are some teams starting to separate themselves.  Bainbridge-Guilford is undefeated at 8-0, and picked up a couple of big wins over Unatego and Norwich this week.  And what do you know?  B-G and Deposit get to tangle this Monday, April 23 in Deposit.  That will be a great test for both teams, as B-G lost to Deposit 2-0 in last year’s MAC championship game.  Hancock, Harpursville, and Sidney all have some wins this year, and on any given day, look to be capable of pulling an upset.  Keep an eye on all of these teams.

 

* One of the biggest games in STAC this season was Elmira taking down Corning 3-0.  Bella Reese, the junior fireballer who’s committed to St. Bonaventure, was huge in striking out 9 and driving in a run.  Sarah Coon has had a great start to the season, and she added a double.  The biggest play of the game came when centerfielder Alexis Wood made a terrific catch with the bases loaded and two down to end Corning’s threat in the 5th.  Elmira dropped a 7-4 game to Horseheads to start their season, but have bounced back nicely with wins over Binghamton and Corning.  As for Corning, they won’t be going anywhere, as they’re still a major threat even with the loss.  A couple of miscues defensively and 8 runners left on base are areas they can point to that can be cleaned up.

 

* Horesheads last won a sectional championship in 2009, and have lost in their five Class AA championship appearances since then, including the last four.  They have won three of the last six STAC championships, which is the highest competition in all of Section IV.  On Saturday, they traveled to Buffalo for the Gerry Gentner Memorial Invitational, and it could not have gone any better.  They swept their three games to win the championship, downing Clarence 4-2 for the title.  Rachel Perritt’s sacrifice fly drove in Alli Richmond to break the tie in the 6th, and Horseheads tacked on another one for good measure.  The game before they put 24 runs on Hamburg in only 5 innings, and 7 runs on Orchard Park in the opener.  Their lineup is loaded from the top to the bottom, so it’s hard to key on one person in particular as someone the opponent needs to shut down.  Names like Kendal Cook (who’s back healthy after missing many games last year with shoulder surgery), Abby Packard, Tess Cites, Maiah Skakel, Delanie Rogers, Madison Rogers, Richmond, and Perritt highlight a very well-rounded team.  We’ll see if this is the year they get over the hump and claim Class AA, but I wouldn’t bet against them.

 

* The Mudville Tournament is a great collection of weekend tournaments held in Herkimer.  Saturday’s version turned out to be a great day for Edison, as they easily won their two games: 15-1 over Seneca Falls, and 16-0 over Schoharie.  Bella Willsey pitched the first game, and Reagan Seelye got the call in the second.  They’ve enjoyed a great start to their season at 4-0, as their other two wins were over tough teams in Union Springs and Tioga.  I can see the Spartans being a very hungry team after losing in the Class C quarterfinals to Tioga last year, which was an upset considering Edison was the second ranked team in all of New York going into the game.  They also beat Tioga 11-0 earlier that season.  Maybe it was a lesson learned that anyone is capable of beating anyone in sectionals.  The early results show the focus is clearly there for 2018.

 

* How about Oneonta’s big win over Windsor on Friday?  That certainly caught my attention.  Even more impressive was that the game was in Windsor, and Oneonta put up a 7-spot to take firm control in the 4th.  Ally Baker again had a big day by going the distance and adding 2 RBIs, but got help from Meredith Smithling, Alexa Loucks, and Rilie Falconio-Gray at the plate.  As good of a win as that was, give credit to Seton for beating the Yellow Jackets 8-6 on Saturday, ending Oneonta’s unbeaten run to start the season at four.  Once again, you never know who shows up ready to put up big numbers and get an upset win on any given day.

 

* It sure feels like spring is here to stay if you peak ahead to the weather for this week.  I’ve already mentioned Bainbridge-Guilford vs. Deposit as one game to watch on Monday.  Stiles and Kori Thornton have tangled in the past, and each is a year better for this one.  Here’s some other games to check out (home team listed second):

            - Monday: Corning vs. Union-Endicott, Binghamton vs. Maine-Endwell, Windsor vs. Susquehanna Valley, Waverly vs. Tioga

            - Tuesday: Horseheads vs. Corning, Maine-Endwell vs. Owego, South Kortright vs. Gilboa

            - Wednesday: Corning vs. Binghamton, Owego vs. Maine-Endwell, Horseheads vs. Elmira, Tioga vs. Elmira Notre Dame

            - Thursday: Bainbridge-Guilford vs. Harpursville

            - Friday: Elmira vs. Binghamton, Maine-Endwell vs. Horseheads, Elmira Notre Dame vs. Waverly

 

* This Saturday is also Mary Testa Tournament day.  I am working on getting a finalized schedule for it, but I have been able to dig around and see the locations it will be held at: Chenango Valley, Union-Endicott, Newark Valley, Vestal, and Maine-Endwell.  Game times appear to be at 10:00 am and noon, with consolation at 2:00 and championship at 2:00.  Once I get the official matchups, I will put them on my Twitter page.

 

* That’ll do it for now.  Enjoy the warmer weather and go watch some softball this week!

4/15/18

 

We finally got a good amount of games in this week, so there’s lots to discuss.  Let’s get right into it.

 

* There’s been a couple of rematches from last year’s sectional finals.  In Class A, Maine-Endwell downed Vestal 14-1 in 5 innings on Friday, which was the first game of M-E’s season.  Last May, it was M-E getting the win at BAGSAI 4-0 en route to their second straight state championship.  Emily Hess is known for her near flawless execution on the mound (she’s only given up one run in two mercy-rule winning games thus far), but it was her game-winning 2-run homer that ended it in this one.  The Spartans are a young team, as names like Mikayla Garbarino and Meaghen Raleigh are gone, but Hess, Alli L’Amoreaux, Meredith Rose, and Amanda DeSantis lead a group of younger players looking for a deep run once again.  I do know this—as long as Hess in standing in that circle with the yellow ball ready to deliver it, M-E will be favored in every game they play.  As for Vestal, they’ll have to replace Lauren Lee on the mound, and Kay Fargo got the call in a 16-0 thrashing of Ithaca on Wednesday before losing to M-E.  We’ll see how they hold up with a very tough schedule.

 

* The other rematch was in Class B between Susquehanna Valley and Windsor.  SV won last time 4-0 thanks to a quick start.  This time it was SV winning 4-1 after pulling away late.  I’d love to give you details on both of SV’s early season wins (12-0 over Chenango Forks in the other one), but there’s been no box scores reported.  Much like M-E has Hess, SV has Sophia Pappas, the Binghamton University commit who’s back for one more go around.  Windsor got an easy win over Chenango Valley for their first win, then edged Seton 2-1 thanks to a 6th inning RBI single from Maddie Berimann.  There’s no doubt these two teams could very well tangle again in May at BAGSAI, so stay tuned.

 

* One of the bigger battles of the early season came in the IAC, as Waverly beat Elmira Notre Dame 3-2 on Friday.  How unlikely was the loss for Elmira ND?  They didn’t even have a regular season loss all last season.  That included two wins over Waverly 7-2 and 6-1.  It was also the first time Elmira ND dropped a home game to Waverly in over a decade.  That’s quite a run to say the least.  In this one, Waverly’s Zoe Mennig picked up two RBIs on a single and solo homer.  Riley Hall’s RBI single in the 3rd proved to be huge, as Elmira ND cut it down to 3-2 after a fielder’s choice groundout and Jordyn Fargo’s RBI double.  A win like this has to do wonders for Waverly’s confidence.  They came so close last season to upsetting Suquehanna Valley in sectionals, and after beating a big time program like Elmira ND, you have to think they believe they belong at the top of the heap.  As for Elmira ND, they still have Izzy Milazzo on the mound, but with a younger team surrounding her this year.  I still wouldn’t worry too much if I were them.  I’m really looking forward to the rematch on April 27.

 

* Another early season IAC showdown was on Wednesday, as Edison beat Tioga 6-2.  A 4-run 2nd inning was good for Edison, as Bella Willsey pitched a complete game with eight strikeouts.  Reagan Seelye, KK Bush, and Haley Maggs each had two hits, and Seelye two RBIs.  Edison also started off the year by pounding Union Springs 11-0, who are adjusting to life after Grace Van Horn (which is starting to go better with big wins over Groton, Southern Cayuga, and Trumansburg after this loss).  This has been Tioga’s only blemish, as they’ve largely been untested in their four other wins.  Both teams should stay right at the top of a very talented bunch in the IAC.

 

* Over in the MAC, Bainbridge-Guilford has managed to get six games in already, thanks to a couple in the Mudville Tournament, and lucky scheduling with weather.  What’s not luck is how great they’ve been playing at 6-0.  They’ve shown they can put up lots of runs on the board (3 times scoring 20+ runs), or in pitcher’s duels (winning the Mudville Tournament 5-4 over Poland and a pair of 3-0 wins over Afton and Hancock).  Kori Thornton has been a part of two no-hitters already.  She combined with Morgan Neidig and Alli Miller to no-hit Unadilla Valley, then did it all herself over Delhi.  That’s pretty amazing.  This team lost to Deposit in the MAC championship last year, and to Elmira ND in the Class C semi-finals.  They look like they’re more than ready to get over the hump this year.

 

* Deposit, as we’ve all been accustomed to seeing, has been obliterating almost everyone.  I think it’s to the point where we all take it for granted, but make no mistake about it, their dominance is not an easy thing to do.  After running through Walton and Afton by a combined score of 30-0, Harpursville did give them a good battle in a 5-0 game.  It’s hard for Deposit to find tough competition, as Makenzie Stiles is still an underclassman (junior) and is still blowing everyone away.  B-G travels to Deposit on April 23, so that will be a game to circle.

 

* There’s a few teams making some noise in STAC.  Union-Endicott struggled a bit last season, but look like they’re more than back this year.  They’re 3-0 after a huge win in Horseheads on Friday.  They’re scored in double digits all three games with wins over Ithaca and Owego as well.  It’s never easy to beat Horseheads, much less at their field, so U-E has to feel great about that.  Corning is also 3-0 thanks to wins over Johnson City, Binghamton, and Ithaca.  The Binghamton win was very big for them, as they survived a couple of Patriots’ runs in the 6th inning to hold on 4-3, with Laura Bennett picking up the save in the 7th.  They were a bit up and down last year, mostly due to a really tough schedule, but perhaps they’ll be the one of the Class AA representatives at BAGSAI in May.

 

* Oneonta had a solid 2017 campaign, and after starting 3-0, they’re looking to build on that even more this year.  Ally Baker has been the driving force both on the mound and at the plate.  They defeated Chenango Forks to start the season 4-0, with Baker going the distance and picking up a couple of RBIs.  They then pounded New Hartford 18-6, and came back in the 7th inning to plate two runs and beat Chenango Valley 2-1 on the road Friday.  They still have tough matchups remaining with the likes of Windsor and Susquehanna Valley, so their path only gets harder.  Still, it’s great for them to be off to such a hot start.

 

* One thing I’ve noticed about the games so far is the amount of lopsided scores and mercy rule games.  Maybe it happens every year and I just haven’t noticed, but if you take a look at the 2018 Scores page, you’ll see quite a few games that aren’t even close.  There’s probably a couple of reasons for this.  The first is that with so many (or every) teams being forced to practice inside in the early going, it’s so hard to replicate what happens on that field.  You can do the best you can with it, and I’m sure coaches around here are used to this, but it’s a whole new ballgame in more ways than one once you get outside.  Some players need more time to adjust.  The other is that, simply put, there’s a load of players in Section IV who play softball year round in one form or another.  Those players are more in “midseason form” than others are right now.  If your school hasn’t had much success thus far, there’s still plenty of time left in the season.  All it takes is one win to turn your fortunes around.

 

* With that said, dare I say this will be the last week of bad weather?  It certainly doesn’t look so hot, with temperatures in the 40s and wet.  Don’t be surprised to see more “unplayable conditions.”  Next week, however, could see it creep more consistently in the 50s and up from there.  I sure hope so.  Friday afternoon gave us a glimmer of what we may finally see soon.  Please!

 

* Thanks again to all who’ve sent in scores.  I’m always looking for more schools to send in scores right after their games.  Anything helps!  If you peak at the Links page, you’ll see where I get many articles and game information from.  There’s lots of good coverage out there, so check it out.

 

* Bundle up and enjoy the week!

3/28/18

 

There’s a few interesting tidbits that I want to pass along regarding sectional play.  Please keep in mind that this all applies to the sectional postseason tournament, and not individual league play for STAC, IAC, MAC, Delaware, and Tri-Valley,

 

* AA, A, and B is an “open tournament,” meaning that because there are a limited number of schools in Section IV in these classes, any of the teams can enter as long as they meet eligibility (we’ll get to that).

 

* C and D are a maximum of 16 teams each.

 

* In order to qualify, there are a couple of eligibility criteria to be met:

            1) You must play at least 10 games

            2) You must win 40% of your overall schedule OR 50% of your schedule in your class.

 

* If only one school qualifies in a class, the 2nd seeded team would be given the option of playing in the sectional championship.

 

* Teams can keep track of their own sectional points by using the following method:

            - 5 points for a win over a school in a higher class

            - 4 points for a win over a school in the same class

            - 3 points for a win over a school in a lower class

            - 2 points for a loss to a school in a higher class

            - 1 point for a loss to a school in the same class

            - 0 points for a loss to a school in a lower class

 

* To determine your final point average, divide the total number of points by the number of games played.

 

* All games played up through Wednesday, May 9 will count towards seeding.

 

* There is no “run rule” or “mercy rule” for sectional games.  Play until the end, no matter the score.

 

* Higher seeded teams get to host all home games until the championships, which will once again be at BAGSAI.

 

* First round of sectional play begins on Tuesday, May 17.  It’ll be first round action for B, C, and D, and quarterfinal rounds for AA and A.

 

* Championship Saturday will be May 26 at BAGSAI, with a rain date on Memorial Day.

 

* Looking ahead even further, Section IV (more specifically, Union-Endicott High School) will host AA and A Regionals on Thursday, May 31 vs. Section I schools.

 

* The following day, June 1, U-E will host the B and D Regionals.  B will play vs. Section III, and D vs. Section IX.

 

* If the AA and A Section IV schools win either or both games on May 31, they will be back at U-E on Saturday, June 2 vs. Section IX schools in more Regional action.

 

* State Championship Saturday will once again be at Moreau Park in Glens Falls on June 9, with the rain date the next day, June 10.

 

* Class AA: Elmira, Corning, Ithaca, Binghamton, Horseheads

 

* Class A: Union-Endicott, Vestal, Johnson City, Maine-Endwell

 

* Class B: Owego, Norwich, Waverly, Windsor, Susquehanna Valley, Chenango Valley, Chenango Forks, Oneonta, Dryden, Whitney Point

 

* Class C: Newark Valley, Watkins Glen, Lansing, Sidney, Trumansburg, Tioga, Edison, Union Springs, Spencer-Van Etten, Moravia, Walton, Greene, Unatego, Elmira Notre Dame, Harpursville, Seton, Bainbridge-Guilford, Unadilla Valley, Odessa-Montour, Groton, Oxford

 

* Class D: Candor, Newfield, Marathon, Delhi, Southern Cayuga, Deposit, Afton, Gilbertsville-Mount Upton, Hancock, Cherry Valley-Springfield, Edmeston, Milford, Morris, Hunter-Tannersville, Laurens, South Kortright, Richfield Springs, Worcester, Davenport, Stamford, Schenevus, Margaretville, Gilboa-Conesville, Windham-Ashland-Jewitt, Downsville, Jefferson, Franklin, Roxbury, Sharon Springs, Andes

 

* Keep in mind it’s possible not all schools will field varsity softball teams.  I’ve already been informed that Candor and Lansing will not.  Also, if teams have moved up a class, I have not been made aware of that.  But that, too, is possible.

3/9/18

It’s been a long offseason, but we are finally back to softball!  Section IV enjoyed another terrific season in 2017, and I’m excited to see what the follow-up will be over the next few months.

 

Here’s what I’d like to see for 2018.  One of my main purposes of this site is to provide instant game scores throughout Section IV.  Here’s what I ask from you…

 

* To those of you who gave me scores last year and are still involved (such as a returning player, coach, or parent/fan), please keep sending them my way.  And thank you again!

 

* I would love to be able to have one representative from each team send scores my way after games.  I know that’s not easy to do, as there are around 70 schools in Section IV that play softball.  But I can still try to get as many as I can.  It can either be from a player or someone associated with the team.

 

* 2 ways to send me scores: 1) DM or tag me on Twitter @sect4softball.  3) Email me at section4softball@gmail.com.

 

* I don’t pass along who sends me the scores, so if you’re humble and worried about “bragging” about your team winning, don’t worry about it!  I’ll simply thank you for the sending me the score, then post it.  Nothing more than that.  No names will be revealed.

 

* I typically only give the score of the game.  However, if there’s some special feat, such as a no-hitter or game winning hit, then I’ll post that as well.

 

* Any help I can get with this will be greatly appreciated!  It’s a quick, easy way to help me get the scores out there!

 

* If you think you can be that person to send me scores of your school, feel free to let me know. Or just start sending them once the season starts in late March/early April.  Either way will do.  Please and thank you!

* Disclaimer - This site is not affiliated with Section IV. I am a fan of softball in this area, so I created this site.
Follow me on Twitter!
Questions?  Comments?  Suggestions?  Or just want to talk softball?
Email me at section4softball@gmail.com