As we sit and wait for what will be happening to the spring sports season, let’s take a look back at the action from an exciting 2019, a season in which three Section IV teams became state champions (Corning in AA, Edison in C, and Deposit in D).
Here I present to my loyal readers a countdown of the top 20 games of 2019. A few notes: 1) These are games only between two Section IV teams. There were many great games both during the season in tournaments against other sections/states, and during the state tournament. But for the sake of this list, I’ll keep it as in-section only. 2) This was originally a top 10 games list, but it was too hard to nail it down, so I expanded it. 3) I studied the games from last year, but at the end of the day, it’s just one person’s opinions. If your team isn’t listed here, it’s nothing personal.
The last note is that these are all close, competitive games. With that in mind, Deposit is not listed, simply because a “close” game to them might “only” be a five-run win. You get my drift.
April 11 – Odessa-Montour certainly knows how to play in exciting games, as this is the first in a handful of appearances on this list. In this back-and-forth affair, Sam Snipes drove in winning pitcher Grace Vondracek in the bottom of the 9th to get the win for the Indians, and down the team that finished runner-up in Class D.
April 2 – In the opening contest of the season for both teams, Laurens scored two runs in the home half of the 7th to go down by a run, but Richfield Springs held on for the victory. Evonna Mower led the way for Richfield Springs, going a perfect 4-for-4 at the plate, and Lauren’s Skyler White collected three hits.
May 31 – These teams split a pair earlier in the regular season, including Chenango Forks using a four-run rally in the 7th inning to win 8-7 way back on April 10. When it mattered the most in the sectional playoffs, the Sabers won a slugfest behind Bella Gaskins’ homer and six RBIs. The Blue Devils didn’t go quietly, as their big two of Grace Cadden and Avery Copeland combined to drive in five runs.
May 15 – Five days earlier, Elmira Notre Dame came away with a 1-0 regular season victory over Edison, one of only three blemishes on the year for the mighty Spartans. This time, a 1st inning run scored by KK Bush on a passed ball held up the entire way, as Bella Willsey outdueled Tiyah Moffe. This win paved the way for eight more playoff (IAC, sectional, and state) wins by Edison in winning a Class C state championship.
May 17 – In a surprise to no one, two of the state’s best powerhouses went neck-and-neck for seven innings before an Ellie Daugherty walk-off single won it for the Hawks in the 8th. Laura Bennett came within an eyelash of a perfect game, settling for a one-hitter to go with 15 strikeouts. The win was big for Corning, as it forced a STAC West division tiebreaker the very next day with the Blue Raiders, won again by Corning 5-2.
May 30 – The magical season of Harpursville saw many big wins as the underdog, most notably by knocking off top-seeded Elmira Notre Dame on the road 7-2 in the Class C Quarterfinal. It was back on the road to Tioga in the semi-final, as the Hornets again embraced the Cinderella role by building a 5-1 lead and holding off the Tigers to advance to the championship game. Tioga didn’t go quietly in the 7th, as they plated a couple of runs to go down by two, but the Hornets sealed the deal.
April 4 – Up 14-6 and in full control, Candor saw their lead disappear in the 7th inning on a furious, 8-run rally by Marathon. However, Candor still came away with the victory in the bottom of the inning as Searra Allen’s RBI single scored Asia Crukendall, who was hit by a pitch leading off. Marathon at one point cut the deficit to 10-6 in the 5th, only to see Candor tack on four more.
April 24 – If you were in attendance whenever Candor faced Odessa-Montour, consider yourself blessed. Odessa-Montour jumped up 8-0, only to see Candor start to chip away starting in the 4th. With the game now 8-5 in the 7th, Candor again rallied with a two-run inside-the-park home run by Asia Curkendall, and an RBI double by Emily Hopkins. In the 8th, Addie Aman took matters into her own hands by getting hit by a pitch, stealing 2nd, stealing 3rd, and advancing home on a wild throw to 3rd to secure the victory.
May 6 – The tone of this game was much different than the #13 entry on this list. O-M ace Grace Vondracek did just about everything she could in striking out an amazing 23 hitters, but Candor still found a way to win by a run in 10 innings. With the international tiebreaker in effect (each team starts with a runner on 2nd starting in the 10th inning), Anna Greeno’s RBI double scored Searra Allen for the game’s lone run. Candor’s Shelby Swartz finished the job with a strikeout and two groundouts in the bottom half.
April 16 – How about a win for a program that was in a 20-year drought? That’s exactly what Ithaca did here, as their victory over Binghamton broke a string of STAC defeats that dated back over 20 years. Yes, over TWENTY YEARS! The Little Red took the lead for good in the 5th and didn’t look back. For good measure, they defeated Binghamton again 8-7 later in the season.
April 13 – The highest-ranking regular season contest to make the list is one that raised eyebrows throughout Section IV. Down 5-1 to Chenango Forks heading into the home half of the 7th, Greene put together an incredible rally, tying the game on RBIs by Katelyn Pratt, McKenzie Scott, and Olivia Kennedy. Kennedy won the game on a walk-off single to score Scott in the 9th, giving Greene the win against a team that nearly advanced to the Class B Championship. Kennedy finished the day with three hits at the plate, and 11 strikeouts on the mound.
May 28 – For six innings, Candor freshman Anna Greeno finessed her way to a 4-2 lead over Tioga, as mixing speeds on the mound kept the Tigers off-balanced. Then the 7th inning came, and a big rally ensued. Five runs scored against a couple of pitchers, and the Tigers held on over Candor to advance to the semi-final. As if often the case, a leadoff walk led to Candor’s unraveling, as a collection of hits and more walks did them in.
May 21 – In a rematch of the 2018 Delaware Championship, Emma Hynes hit a walk-off single to score Lacey German and give the Rockets their second straight league championship over Gilboa. It was a back-and-forth tilt, as Gilboa jumped up early 2-0, only to see Roxbury take the lead back 3-2 in the 4th, and then Gilboa knot it back up an inning later.
June 1 – One day after a dramatic semi-final victory over Maine-Endwell, Union-Endicott came up just short against Vestal in the Class A Championship. This defensive battle swung Vestal’s way on an RBI single by Morgan Gendron in the 5th for the 3-2 lead, and Maddie Donlin came on in relief to close the door over the final two innings for the school’s first sectional championship since winning Class AA in 2005.
May 20 – The prelude to the STAC Championship game took place at Corning, as both teams plated single runs in the 5th. Erin Austin played small ball in taking a leadoff walk in the 7th, advancing to second on a bunt, then scoring on a wild throw to first after another bunt to get the win. SV was led by Bella Gaskins’ solo homer and Alex Deeter’s four-hitter. Atalyia Rijo’s clutch RBI triple tied the score, and Laura Bennett struck out 12.
May 31 – Waverly certainly had to earn their first Section IV championship, going through two of the best programs in the state to do so. It started with a win over Windsor in the Class B Semi-final. The Wolverines were one strike away from winning, but a wild pitch allowed Windsor to tie the game in the 7th. Not to be outdone, Waverly returned the favor in the 9th when Morgan Adams did the same to advance to the title game. Wendi Hammond (16 K’s) edged Kayli Rosenkrans (11 K’s).
May 16 – The battle of IAC powerhouses (and sectional champions) did not disappoint. Waverly got the regular season win 3-0, but Edison rode a pair of RBIs by Emily Baker and Bella Willsey, then got out of a bases loaded jam in the 6th to hold on. The win started an incredible run for the Spartans, as they won their next seven sectional and state playoff games by a combined score of 71-0. That’s not a typo, believe it or not!
May 21 – It took 12 innings and nearly 3 ½ hours, and with darkness setting in threatening to call this one a draw, a perfect squeeze bunt by Allie L’Amoreaux scored Meredith Rose to end this exhausting contest. M-E overcame a couple of deficits, including 3-0 heading into the bottom of the 3rd. Kudos to Corning for their effort, as they beat Horseheads the previous Friday and Saturday, and then Susquehanna Valley on Monday before the loss to M-E on Tuesday. Quite the grind.
June 1 – After a couple of epic battles in the previous two years which saw Susquehanna Valley win in 8 innings, Waverly finally was able to get over the hump in a classic Class B Championship game. Wendi Hammond led the way, as her solo homer tied the game at one in the 6th, and soon after Riley Hall’s RBI single proved to be the game-winner. It had been since 1982 that a non-current STAC team won in Class B (Groton over Trumansburg).
May 31 – Maine-Endwell came into this game with some of the most impressive numbers across the state: 12 straight wins in the Section IV playoffs, 7 straight Section IV Class A championships, 11 straight wins in the state playoffs, and most importantly, 3 straight Class A state championships. Throw in a STAC championship over eventual Class AA state champion Corning, it was quite the daunting task for Union-Endicott to overcome. But the Tigers did just that, scoring a run in the top of 10th on a long RBI by Taytum Pot to end the Spartans’ streaks of dominance. Amanda Kiser matched Allie L’Amoreaux pitch-for-pitch, holding the powerful Spartans' offense to only three hits. To top it all off, the Tigers found a way to win despite not getting a hit until the last inning, and 20 strikeouts from L’Amoreaux. Wow!