7/12/19

 

It’s been about a month since Section IV made history again in the state playoffs, as Corning (AA), Edison (C), and Deposit (D) all won state championships.  Vestal (A) and Waverly (B) both won sectional titles, and lost by a combined three runs in their Regional state playoff games.

 

All in all, it was another dominating season for Section IV to say the least.

 

But that’s all in the past, and as it is every year for high school sports, a group of seniors are on their way out, and new blood will look to step in.  With that said, let’s take a look at the likelihood of all five sectional winners repeating in 2020.

 

* After losing a heartbreaker to Horseheads in last year’s Class AA championship game, Corning left no doubt this year with a 14-1 thrashing of Elmira.  Four victories later, all by two runs or less, gave Corning its first state championship.  They were led by senior Le Moyne bound Laura Bennett, the Class AA Player of the Year.  Much like other talented pitchers in this area, she brought it on the mound and at the plate, and will be extremely hard to replace.  Time after time in pressure situations against the state’s biggest schools, she found a way to get it done.  The Hawks do have three All-State players on their way back in Atalyia Rijo (1st Team), Ellie Daugherty (5th Team), and Kalea Faulk (6th Team).  Erin Austin is another returning star, as she was a STAC West All-Star.  It’s not often you lose someone as talented as Bennett, but still return a bunch of other talent.  The road is never easy in Class AA, but there’s a lot of reasons to think they can experience plenty of success again.

 

* Two teams that will be right back in the hunt in Class AA are Elmira and Horseheads.  Elmira pulled off one of the biggest shockers of the season by going to Horseheads in the sectional semi-final and winning 9-1.  They lose 5th Team All-State member Alexis Wood, as well as St. Bonaventure commit Bella Reese, who unfortunately could not get on track much this season because of injury.  They do return Sarah Coon (4th Team All-State) and STAC West All-Star Kiarah Glover.  Horseheads loses Missouri commit Kendal Cook (3rd Team All-State), but still have three Division 1 signees in Tess Cites (3rd Team All-State), Maiah Skakel (5th Team All-State), and Abby Packard (STAC West All-Star).  There’s also Madison Rogers on the mound, owner of multiple no-hitters this year, and Kellie Zeorb, who also was a STAC West All-Star.  I would expect to see quite the wrestling match for the top spot between these three teams next season.

 

* The Class A Championship saw both lower seeds advance, as Vestal beat Johnson City, and Union-Endicott downed Maine-Endwell, both on the road.  Vestal put it all together in beating U-E 4-2 to claim their first sectional title since 2005 in Class AA.  A combination of great defense and timely hitting got them into the state tournament before an unfortunate meltdown in the field led to a huge Minisink Valley comeback in a 6-5, 8-inning defeat.  Still, it was a very successful season, as they did it without any big “stars” that other teams might boast.  Sophomore Maddie Donlin was the only Golden Bear selected as All-State, as she made 4th Team honors.  The STAC Metro All-Stars were senior Morgan Gendron, who will definitely be missed, and junior Samantha Berube.  While there aren’t many Class A teams to contend with, the path to a repeat sectional title will be tough.  But, they’ve done it before by relying on a team first approach, and can do it again by playing the same style.

 

* The fact that Maine-Endwell did not reach another sectional final was perhaps the biggest shocker of the season.  Their streak of consecutive Class A championships ended at seven.  But, one glance at the All-State list shows that the Spartans return all four members to a loaded squad next season: Allie L’Amoreaux (1st Team), Amanda DeSantis (2nd Team), Melissa Demo (2nd Team), and Meredith Rose (7th Team).  One would think they would be even hungrier than before in order to prove that they belong back at the top.  U-E loses a couple of absolute studs in Taylor Mischler (1st Team All-State) and Abby Madigan (5th Team All-State). They also lose Amanda Kiser (STAC Metro All-Star), who was sensational in the M-E victory, holding a stacked offense scoreless for 10 innings.  She will be really hard to replace.  Keep an eye on Johnson City, who return a couple of STAC Metro All-Stars in Brooke Ladd and Madeline Akulis.  Like Class AA, with a small bracket in A, getting hot at the right time like Vestal did could get you right into the state playoffs.

 

* For the first time in their rich school history, Waverly won a sectional title, defeating the mighty Susquehanna Valley 2-1 in Class B.  Historically, non-STAC teams have not fared well at all against STAC teams in sectionals, but Waverly rose above and beyond in proving that if you have the talent and the drive, you can win big games.  It’s no secret to say that the loss of Albany commit Wendi Hammond (1st Team All-State, but very easily could’ve been the Player of the Year) will be all but impossible to overcome.  She’s one of the best players to ever come out of this section, as she’d either no-hit you on the mound, or hit a homer over your head at the plate.  The Wolverines do have Riley Hall (4th Team All-State) on her way back, as well as IAC Division 3 All-Stars Paige Lewis, Hali Jenner, and Honorable Mention Morgan Adams.  Winning another sectional title might be a tall order, but they proved they could do it once, so why not again?

 

* Susquehanna Valley has some very talented players to count on for next season.  Alex Deeter and Ava Spottek made 1st and 2nd Team All-State, respectively.  Other returning players include STAC East All-Stars Bella Gaskins and Sophie Keehle.  Chenango Forks came within a run of beating SV and making a sectional championship appearance.  They will be led by 3rd Team All-State member Grace Cadden, along with STAC East All-Stars Avery Copeland and Brianna Ramstine.  Windsor is a team that is always in the hunt, and after losing a 9-inning thriller to Waverly in the sectional semi-finals, will bring back a young team without any postseason all-stars.  I would never count them out, however.  Owego plays a schedule against bigger schools in the STAC Metro, and without any all-stars returning, will hope that hard schedule pays off come late-May.

 

* After winning an IAC title over Waverly, Edison kept the run going by shutting out all seven opponents by a score of 71-0 in winning a Class C state championship.  We may never see a run like that again.  Their closest game was a 3-0 state quarterfinal win over Pulaski.  In Glens Falls, they destroyed both St. Lawrence and Warsaw.  The leader of the charge was Player of the Year Bella Willsey, who no-hit St. Lawrence in the semi-final.  After spending two straight years as 1st Team All-State, the Spartans will miss the Keuka commit’s all-around talent very much.  The good news is that they return three other All-State members: Riley Vincent (1st Team), Reagan Seelye (2nd Team), and KK Bush (3rd Team).  That’s some serious talent.  There’s also a couple of IAC Division 2 Honorable Mentions in Sidney Cooper and Ryleigh Carson who will be back in 2020.  The Spartans will have to find someone who can pick up the slack on the mound, but if they can get solid pitching, this incredible offense should be more than enough to get back to Championship Saturday at BAGSAI.

 

* Class C is full of smaller schools, so it’s never easy to make it through that bracket.  Harpursville enjoyed a magical run to the sectional championship game, but they will lose All-State selections Mackenzie Robertson (4th Team) and Alexus Roys (5th Team).  A couple of great pitchers are on their way back in Odessa-Montour’s Grace Vondracek (4th Team All-State) and Greene’s Olivia Kennedy (5th Team All-State).  Both are strikeout machines, and both are capable of no-hitters in any start.  Anytime you have that ace in the circle, you have a great chance of going on a run, as our three state champions learned this year.  Another surprise team from this year was Candor, and they will see Jennah Kareem (5th Team All-State) return to the fold.  Tioga is a team that featured six IAC All-Stars and Honorable Mentions, and all are coming back.  One of them is Kindra Wessels, who owns a no-hitter from this past year.  Finally, Elmira Notre Dame is comparable to Windsor in Class B in that they always find ways to reload and contend.  However, they will miss the contributions of Tiyah Moffe (2nd Team All-State) and Jordyn Fargo (IAC Division 3 All-Star), so a return to the top won’t be easy.

 

* Much like Class C, there are quite a few teams battling it out in Class D.  For the past few years, it was all Deposit, all the time.  If you take a look at the Section IV Champions page, you will see either Deposit or Afton as sectional champs since 1995.  That’s right – in the past 25 years, only two teams have won a Class D sectional title.  That’s an unreal stat.  Over the past six years, Deposit has wiped out the competition, and Makenzie Stiles has set the bar sky high in the process.  Her 106 wins, 26 no-hitters, and 16 perfect games make her one of the best pitchers in New York history.  After winning her fourth state title in five years (with a narrow miss last season), the five-time Player of the Year will take her talents to Pittsburgh.  In addition to her, the Lumberjacks will be without the other half of the battery in Bryn Martin, who has made the All-State team four straight years.  She’s an incredible talent who handled the grind of catching with ease.  The good news for Deposit?  Coming back are Mikayla Martin (1st Team All-State), Riley Martin (1st Team All-State), Danielle Seymour (2nd Team All-State), Alaina Smith (4th Team All-State), Kayla Eldred (MAC 2nd Team All-Star), and Alaina Smith (MAC Honorable Mention).  While you can’t replace the Stiles-Martin combo, with a program like Deposit, you know they’ll find a way to stay at the top of Class D for many years to come.  Winning won’t come as easily anymore, which is no knock on the players coming back, but a complete credit to what Stiles has done the past five years.

 

* The team that has competed against Deposit in the sectional final the last couple of seasons, Marathon, graduates two all-state members in Kaitlyn Mitchell (2nd Team) and Brenna Mitchell (3rd Team).  The final two all-state members coming out of Section IV belong to Hancock in Laycee Drake (2nd Team) and Hayleigh Weyrauch (3rd Team).  While Hancock did not make much noise this season, when talent like that on their way back, you have to keep an eye on them.  Two teams that reached the sectional semi-final this past year were Gilboa and Schenevus.  Gilboa will lose Delaware 1st Team All-Star Abigail Tompkins, who will be tough to replace on the mound.  They do return a couple of other 1st Team All-Stars in Sierra Perry and Liz Cherry.  Schenevus has seen Erika Spranger and Alexis Hults graduate, two of their Tri-Valley 1st Team All-Stars, but do return a third one in Hannah Osborne.  Despite the talent returning for Deposit, for the first time in quite a few years, the rest of the teams in Class D have to at least feel like they have a chance at winning in 2020.  No longer having to deal with #14 for Deposit in the circle anymore is as big of a mental relief as ever.

 

 

6/3/19

 

It’s been a couple of days since Championship Saturday at BAGSAI, and Mother Nature thankfully cooperated to get everything in.  Let’s take a look at each game.

 

* Class AA Championship: #1 Corning 14 - #3 Elmira 1.  A pair of 2-0 setbacks by Elmira to Corning during the season had to give the Express confidence heading into this one.  Combine that with a huge 9-1 victory over a powerful Horseheads team in the semi-final, on the road no less, had to make them feel even better.  Then the game started and, well…it was all Corning, all the time.  The Hawks put up 11 runs through three innings, blowing the game wide open to the surprise of many.  Corning had not played since losing 6-5 in the STAC Championship on May 21, so it was fair to question if they’d be rusty.  Um, guess not!  They were able to chase young Jasmine Cook at one point (she later returned to the mound), and simply put, just pounded the ball all over the place.  Ellie Daugherty hit a home run, Mikayla Brucie had three hits, and Laura Bennett, Kalea Faulk, and Emily VanDelinder each had two.  It was a perfect display of what Corning is capable of – big bats on offense, and a shutdown pitcher in Bennett on the mound.  They’ll face a tough path if they want to win a state championship, as they’ll need to win four more times.  But I wouldn’t bet against them advancing far.  As for Elmira, as Coach Becca Saggiomo stated to the Press, her team “stayed optimistic [through adversity], worked really hard no matter what.  They came to practice, worked their butts off every single day.”  Considering their all-state pitcher Bella Reese did not get much mound time this year because of injury, they have plenty to be proud of in even reaching this point.  I look for them to be right back in the mix next season, with the experience of this game being huge.

 

* Class A Championship: #3 Vestal 4 - #4 Union-Endicott 2.  The battle of the two lower seeds ended up in Vestal’s favor, as they held off the team that took down the defending three-time state champions, Maine-Endwell, the night before.  A 2-2 game in the 5th was swayed towards Vestal on an RBI bloop single by Morgan Gendron.  An insurance run was tacked on an inning later.  Perhaps the move of the game came when Vestal coach Matt Vivona called upon Maddie Donlin to relieve starter Kay Farro in the 6th.  It may have been a bit of a gamble, but Donlin showed she was up to the task with a scoreless couple of frames to end the game.  Farro was tough in getting out of a bases loaded, one out jam in the 5th unscathed.  As Kevin Stevens of the Press noted, it was a game full of slick defensive plays, with U-E able to gun out a couple runners at home.  Vestal will have to use their gloves and clutch pitching in tough situations going forward in the state tournament.  Like Corning, they will need to win four games, instead of three like Waverly, Edison, and Deposit.  Uphill climb or not, they’ve already defied the odds in this class by coming up big when it mattered the most.  They’ve won five straight, and are peaking at the perfect time.  Even in the loss, U-E still has plenty to be proud of in beating Maine-Endwell and shocking the state in the process.  Maybe they were at least a little bit tired from having to turn around and play less than 24 hours later against another very good team.  They still played tough and were right in the game until the end.

 

* Class B Championship: #2 Waverly 2 - #1 Susquehanna Valley 1.  I remarked in my championship preview that of all the games on the docket that day, this is the one I considered the main event.  And let me tell you, it didn’t disappoint.  A 1-0 advantage by SV was quickly erased on a long solo homer from superstar Wendi Hammond in the 6th.  Another couple of studs in the Waverly lineup, Hali Jenner and Riley Hall, then tagged up to deliver the winning run.  Jenner doubled to the gap in left center, and an RBI single by Hall put the Wolverines up for good.  Hammond left no doubt in striking out the side in the 7th to seal the victory.  She ended up with 13 K’s on the day, which is even more remarkable considering how talented SV is.  For people who haven’t paid too much attention to her, you should hopefully know about her now.  She’s terrific no matter which league she’s facing, just as her team proved they can beat one of the best teams in STAC.  I’ve tracked sectional championships dating back to 2001, and for Class B (STAC does not have any C or D teams), it’s been only STAC teams winning in B.  Waverly appeared in the 2013 championship, but were beaten down by Windsor, 7-0.  With a star like Hammond on the mound, and an offense that showed they are capable of getting clutch hits, they have to really like their chances in the state tournament.  Keep your eye on them going forward.  As for the Sabers, their streak of two straight Class B titles has come to an end.  There might not have been many who would’ve believed they’d even be back in this spot after Sophia Pappas graduated, but they once again reminded everyone how deep and talented of a program they have.  Alex Deeter was terrific in this game, and only lost based on three hits surrendered in the 6th.  There’s plenty to like about them in the future, as they always find a way to stay right in the mix of the top teams.

 

* Class C Championship: #2 Edison 9 - #8 Harpursville 0.  The defending Class C champions somehow proved that they are even stronger and better this year, as they completely overwhelmed Harpursville, this year’s Cinderella story.  It was already 2-0 three batters into the game, as Bella Willsey, Edison’s all-around stud, hit a two-run homer to center.  A Reagan Seelye RBI single made it 3-0, and any chance of Harpursville keeping the game close was already out the window.  KK Bush had three hits, and her home run in the 4th pushed it to 9-0.  Willsey tossed her fourth straight shutout in sectionals, which is almost impossible to do considering the competition is so good.  She ended up with 11 strikeouts, and flirted with a perfect game into the 5th.  Last year, it was her solo home run that was the difference against Elmira Notre Dame, and she picked up right where she left off this year.  The Spartans are deep, talented, and driven to keep going after losing in the Class C State Quarterfinal last year.  They also beat Waverly in the IAC Championship, which shows how tough of an out they’ll be.  Harpursville rode a wave of momentum all the way to BAGSAI, and had a whole boatload of support at this game.  They unfortunately ran into a much better team, which can be said for plenty of Edison’s opponents.  Despite the final score, they hung tough all the way into the end, as Maryjane Kappauf, Vanessa Groover, and Alexus Roys all got hits in the final three innings, but were stranded.  They proved that when you stick together and focus on the task at hand, any team can pull off an upset win.  Going on the road and defeating the #1 seed in Elmira Notre Dame is a memory those ladies will never forget.  Kudos to them on finishing the season strong.

 

* Class D Championship: #1 Deposit 6 - #2 Marathon 0.  This year’s only sectional finals rematch was in Class D, and once again, it was Deposit coming out on top.  Thankfully for Marathon, it wasn’t nearly the laugher as last year’s 22-0 score was.  While Deposit was never in any serious doubt of losing, I’ll give the Olympians plenty of credit for not letting the game get out of hand after falling down 5-0 after the 1st.  They put a couple of runners on in the 6th with a single (the only one they had) and an error.  Lo and behold, Makenzie Stiles, a name I’ve typed seemingly a thousand times in recent years, escaped without any damage.  On the day, she struck out 14 and allowed one hit.  For those who have not seen her pitch before, but perhaps heard that she was just named the Gatorade Player of the Year for New York, she left quite the impression on the crowd by displaying her amazing talent.  The rest of the Lumberjacks flexed their muscle as well, with Mikayla Martin's single to start the rally in the 1st.  Mikala Anderson and Kayla Eldred each drove in runs, and combined with an error to send in two more runs, made it 5-0 very quickly.  Stiles drove in the game’s only other run later in the 5th.  You know you have an incredible program when you can say that a state championship is once again a realistic goal.  Last year, they cruised along until Fort Ann pulled away in the late innings to lose 4-3 in the championship.  This year, Stiles and battery mate Bryn Martin will look to once again get back to the top.  There’s no reason to think that they can’t.  As for Marathon, much respect to them for getting back to the championship game.  They won their division, IAC Division 1, and played very well in a loss to Waverly in the playoffs.  They were also able to regroup after a really rough start in this game to keep things reasonable.  And, in all seriousness, did not add their name to the long list of no-hitters from Stiles, which is an accomplishment.  Congratulations to them on their great season.

5/31/19

 

Two months of softball has led us to this point.  Championship Saturday at BAGSAI will feature 10 of the best teams Section IV has to offer.  It’s always an exciting afternoon of softball, so let’s dive in and take a look at each matchup.

 

* Class AA Championship, 4:00: #3 Elmira vs. #1 Corning.  I’m sure there were plenty who believed that this would be a rematch of last year’s championship – Horseheads vs. Corning.  The ones who didn’t believe that?  The Elmira Express.  They left no doubt in running away late at Horseheads in the semi-final to win 9-1.  A Sarah Coon two-run triple gave them the lead at 2-1 in the 3rd, and they incredibly put up a 5-spot in the 7th to seal the deal.  Young Jasmine Cook continued to make a name for herself, as the freshman only gave up one run pitching for the injured Bella Reese, who’s a St. Bonaventure commit.  Now the challenge becomes even bigger, as waiting for them at BAGSAI is Corning and their ace, Laura Bennett.  These teams have locked horns twice this season being STAC West foes, and it was Corning with a pair of 2-0 victories.  In the first game, Bennett outdueled Reese with a shutout on 11 strikeouts.  Not too long after, Bennett put up the same stat line, and Alalyia Rijo added a pair of hits.  That game was over three weeks ago, and times have changed.  After getting pounded by Horseheads 12-0 back on April 30, the Express completely turned things around and won eight of nine.  And to think they did that with a 9th grader on the mound and not their senior leader in Reese, that speaks volumes to the talent of Cook and overall depth of the team.  Corning will be looking to shake off the demons of the AA final last year in which they blew a 7-1 lead to Horseheads and lost 9-8.  Based on how their season has gone, they have definitely learned from that experience and become better from it.  As hot as Elmira is currently, I have to give an edge (a very slight one) to Corning because of Bennett on the mound and an offense led by studs like Kaela Faulk, Erin Austin, and Rijo.  Don’t expect Elmira to play scared, though.  They are more than ready for this moment.  Plus, you have to consider that Corning has had nearly two full weeks in between losing to Maine-Endwell in the STAC Championship, and now this game.  Will rust play a factor?  We will soon find out.

 

* Class A Championship, 2:00: #4 Union-Endicott vs. #3 Vestal.  For the first time since 2012, Maine-Endwell will not be reigning supreme in Class A.  That’s because Union-Endicott, the last seed at #4, pulled off the shocker by going to M-E and beating them 1-0 in a 10-inning thriller.  U-E was twice shut out by the Spartans this year, but it didn’t matter in this one.  After downing the defending three-time state champions, they now will face Vestal, who beat Johnson City 4-1 in the other semi-final.  This is a pretty even matchup on paper.  They are both in the STAC Metro, and split a pair against one another.  In the first one on April 24, Vestal won 8-4 thanks to scoring all of their runs in the 3rd inning.  U-E bounced back on May 1, with Amanda Kiser tossing a shutout and adding a home run, along with Lindsey Mancini, to win 4-0.  Now comes their biggest game, and it’s an unlikely one to most considering they are both the lower seeded teams in the 4-team bracket.  Vestal went through a stretch about midway through the season in which they lost four of five, but have now won four straight.  Kay Farro is the horse that Vestal will ride, and she’s very capable of putting up zeroes.  As for U-E, they did something that no other Section IV team has done in quite some time by beating M-E in the postseason.  They will counter with Amanda Kiser, who must be doing something right if she kept M-E off the scoreboard for 10 whole innings.  She also has some championship game experience by starting last year’s Class A title game.  This is truly a hard one to pick.  Is U-E satisfied just beating M-E?  Or are they hungry to win a championship after losing last year?  Can Vestal win their first sectional title since 2005 in Class AA?  I’ll give a slight edge to U-E, only because any team that beats M-E probably deserves at least that. 

 

* Class B Championship, 2:00: #2 Waverly vs. #1 Susquehanna Valley.  All five championship games are heavyweight battles, but if I had pick one for the main event, this is it.  This year’s sectionals have been crazy with upsets left and right, but the top two seeds in Class B held up.  If you’ve followed closely, you’ll know that this is the third straight year these two teams have met in the postseason, with the first two in the semi-final.  Two years ago, SV won 4-2 in eight innings.  Last year, it was a 1-0 decision for SV.  This time around, Waverly goes for revenge on the biggest stage of them all.  What they have going for them is one of the best players in all of Section IV, Wendi Hammond.  Quite simply put, she can pitch it and she can hit it really, really well.  There’s a reason she’s committed to play at the University at Albany in the fall.  She gets plenty of support, too.  Riley Hall and Hali Jenner are a couple of names who jump out on the offensive side.  SV no longer has Sophia Pappas to hand the ball to, but they do have Alex Deeter, who has enjoyed a terrific season.  She was on the mound recently in a 2-1 STAC Semi-final loss to Corning, the #1 seed in AA.  They have a deep offense where any number of players such as Madison Tuttle, Bella Gaskins (who pitched a no-hitter earlier this season), Sophie Keehle, or Ava Spottek could contribute, to name a few.  Plus, they have some players who have been on this stage before, as this will be the fourth straight championship game appearance for the Sabers, while winning the last two.  I expect this one to be neck-and-neck the entire game, as I don’t see Hammond or Deeter giving an inch, even against impressive offenses.  I’m not even sure which way to lean.  But, since this postseason is one full of upsets, maybe it’s Waverly’s fate that they will be the first team not named Windsor or SV to win a Class B championship since Chenango Valley in 2010.

 

* Class C Championship, 4:00: #8 Harpursville vs. #2 Edison.  How amazing has this run been by Harpursville?  Let’s appreciate that for a moment.  They played their only home game this postseason by beating #9 Odessa-Montour, then went on the road and pulled two upsets over two IAC powerhouses: #1 Elmira Notre Dame and #5 Tioga.  It appears that the Hornets aren’t simply happy to be in the tournament, they want to win the whole darn thing.  Traveling to different fields and playing as the away team hasn’t affected them at all.  Next up is the IAC champions, Edison.  The Spartans got here by demolishing Oxford, Bainbridge-Guilford, and Greene by a combined score of 37-0.  I doubt I have to tell you that that’s pretty good!  Harpursville actually entered sectionals coming off of lopsided losses to Deposit and Johnson City, but obviously used those games as learning experiences to get better.  Harley Bunker will have her hands full on the mound trying to keep the Edison lineup off-balanced.  I haven’t even mentioned Bella Willsey of Edison yet, who struck out 18 in a one-hitter over Greene in the semi-final (to run her total of strikeouts to 49 in three sectional games).  She’s surrendered one run in the last five games, all in the league or sectional playoffs.  She’s been at her best in the biggest situations.  Edison has the advantage based off of Willsey on the mound, and an offense that pounded three other MAC schools in sectionals.  Harpursville has proven to be high-powered offense as well, so Willsey and her defense will have to treat them as such and be ready for a challenge.  Edison will be favored based on their season resume, but if the #8 seed Hornets can pull this one off as well, it will be one of the bigger upsets in Section IV championship history.

 

* Class D Championship, 4:00: #2 Marathon vs. #1 Deposit.  For the second year in a row, Deposit and Marathon will go head-to-head in the championship.  Last year, it was Deposit sporting a 3-0 advantage heading into their half of the 5th, and then 24 hitters put up 19 runs.  Simply put, it all fell apart for Marathon just like that.  Makenzie Stiles, who was just named the Gatorade New York State High School Player of the Year, threw a perfect game that day.  Five perfect games later this season, she’s back and more than ready to lead Deposit to a sixth straight Class D championship, and her fifth straight since pitching as an 8th grader and beating Afton 2-1 in 2015.  Let’s not ignore what Marathon has accomplished this season, though.  They fought off Candor to win the IAC Division 1, then battled Waverly tough in a 6-3 defeat in the IAC Semi-finals.  After waxing Afton 18-1 following that loss, they beat Richfield Springs and Schenevus to get back to the championship game.  Breanna Mitchell has stepped up many times this season, and kept Waverly silent through four innings, which is no easy task.  She also is a big threat at the plate.  The best Marathon can hope to do is keep the game close and possibly frustrate Deposit in the process.  If they can keep the game manageable, the pressure squarely falls on the Lumberjacks late in the game, even if they are the home team.  Deposit needs to focus on themselves and play their game, which has led them to a perfect 18-0 mark this season.  Let me put it like this – as big of an upset as Harpursville beating Edison would be, Marathon defeating Deposit might be the biggest upset in Section IV history.  Can it happen?  The percentage might be very slim, but it’s high school sports.  Anything can happen!

5/26/19

 

The Schedule Gods have worked in my favor this year, so here’s a preview of the next round of games for each class: Semi-finals for AA and A; Quarterfinals for B, C, and D.

 

Class AA – Semi-final

#3 Elmira at #2 Horseheads.  (See previous blog entry for preview.)

 

 

Class A – Semi-finals

#4 Union-Endicott at #1 Maine-Endwell.  (See previous blog entry for preview.)

 

#3 Vestal at #2 Johnson City.  The STAC Metro foes will lock horns for a third time, with Vestal taking the first couple.  Nonetheless, it’s JC with the home game.  It’ll be a good matchup on the mound with Vestal’s Kay Farro vs. JC’s Katrina Fox.  The Wildcats have hit the skids as of late, dropping five of the last six.  Before that, they won six of seven, so they appear to be a momentum type of team.  Vestal recently played Corning tough, swept a pair in Mudville, and beat JC to end their regular season.  We’ll see if they can go 3-for-3 in victories over JC this year.

 

 

Class B – Quarterfinals

#5 Owego at #4 Chenango Forks.  (See previous blog entry for preview.)

 

#6 Dryden at #3 Windsor.  So here’s an interesting game for a different reason.  I know people are here for a preview on both teams.  The only problem is that both teams are two of the most elusive to get stats on in all of Section IV.  Windsor, according to what I’ve tracked, only has appeared in the Press & Sun Bulletin once all season, and it was a 5-0 defeat to Union-Endicott.  I do know that Kalista Holt has a no-hitter against Chenango Valley, and she had the lone hit to break up Amanda Kiser’s no-hit attempt for U-E.  Dryden plays in the same division as Waverly and Elmira Notre Dame and have taken some lumps, but do enter sectionals at 7-6.  Last year it was Windsor with a 21-0 shellacking of Dryden in round one, so the Lions will look to be much more competitive this time around.

 

 

Class C – Quarterfinals

#8 Harpursville at #1 Elmira Notre Dame.  Harpursville turned it on late to get by Odessa-Montour and their great pitcher, Grace Vondracek.  Now they must travel to play Elmira ND, who have continued to get better and better this season.  Tiyah Moffe recently pitched in two straight 1-0 decisions to Edison, the first on the positive side, the second in losing an IAC Semi-final.  Harpursville has seen their fair share of great pitching in the MAC this year, so they’ll have to rely on that experience to pull the road upset.

 

#7 Bainbridge-Guilford at #2 Edison.  This is a rematch of last year’s semi-final, a game which Edison put away with a 7-run 3rd.  Bella Willsey pitched a three-hitter that day, and she’s a year stronger and better this time around.  B-G shut out Spencer-Van Etten at home, and now will make the long drive to the Elmira area.  They’ll have to avoid the big inning again if they want to compete in this one.  Edison is still riding a high after getting past Waverly in the IAC Championship, then walloping Oxford 15-0 in the first round.

 

#6 Newark Valley at #3 Greene.  Greene picked up their first sectional win in seven years on Friday, but it wasn’t easy.  They had to hold off a game Unatego team that pushed them to their limit in an 11-10 decision.  Oliva Kennedy still finished with 12 strikeouts and added a solo homer.  Newark Valley has played very well the last three games.  After losing a close one to Candor 4-2, they had an impressive win over Tioga 3-2, then got by Union Springs in the first round 10-6.  A big start from Cassidy Hoffmier would go a long way for the Cardinals to pull the upset.

 

#5 Tioga at #4 Candor.  On paper, this could be the closest game of the bunch.  Tioga had their hands full with Groton in the first round before getting five runs in the 5th to pull away, 7-1.  Candor looked strong in beating Sidney the day before.  Most people who follow softball in this are probably more familiar with Tioga, as they are consistently in the mix in both the IAC and Class C.  Candor, however, has been terrific this season at 15-4.  I’ll be curious to see if Tioga’s ace Kindra Wessels can hold down the big bats of Candor.  If she keeps them in check, Tioga can rely on their big game experience to get the road victory.

 

 

Class D – Quarterfinals

#8 Laurens at #1 Deposit.  Laurens is in the interesting position of still waiting to play the Tri-Valley Championship game, as it’s constantly been pushed back.  In the meantime, they got by Davenport in the first round.  Their reward is a matchup with state’s top ranked team in Class D, undefeated Deposit.  As I said in my sectional preview, any team that plays against Deposit knows they’ll be massive underdogs, so they need to relax and play with a “Nothing to Lose” mentality.  Deposit will begin their march towards getting back and winning a state title after falling to Fort Ann in the championship game last year.

 

#7 Richfield Springs at #2 Marathon.  Richfield Springs bounced back from a loss to Milford in the Tri-Valley Semi-finals to win 6-1 in the first round.  Kennadi Butler picked up three hits to lead the way.  Now they get a test in Marathon, who played Waverly very tough in a 6-3 loss in the IAC Semi-finals.  They came right back and destroyed Afton 18-1, so that right there tells you how tough the Olympians are.  They’ll be looking to get back to the Class D championship game with two more wins.

 

#6 Roxbury at #3 Schenevus.  Roxbury comes into this game with as much positive momentum as one team can have.  They won a Delaware League Tiebreaker over Davenport, then pulled the upset over Gilboa to win back-to-back league titles.  After pounding Jefferson 16-5 in the first round, they have to be full of confidence.  Still, it’ll be Schenevus with the home game, as they won their first 12 games of the season.  They recently beat Richfield Springs 8-4 in the Tri-Valley Consolation.  Alexis Hults will look to halt the Roxbury run.

 

#5 Gilboa at #4 Afton.  Much like the Class C #5 vs. #4 matchup, this is another one that is very intriguing on paper.  Gilboa has enjoyed another terrific season in the Delaware League, but fell to Roxbury for the second straight year in the championship game.  They were able to shake that off by blanking Worcester in the first round.  Afton can be hard to figure out, as they won a pair in Mudville, but also dropped lopsided games to Marathon, Deposit, and Greene.  Plus, they most recently lost 6-5 to Unatego.  Afton sees much better competition during the year, but if Gilboa’s Abigail Tompkins is on her game from the mound, the Wildcats should feel good about moving on.

5/22/19

 

League championships have come and gone (well, except for Tri-Valley, which for some reason has yet to play theirs).  Congrats once again to the following teams for winning: Maine-Endwell (STAC), Deposit (MAC), Roxbury (Delaware), and Edison (IAC).

                       

Now we’re back to sectional season, where only the best of the best get to finish their season with a win.

 

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 3 seeds: Corning, Horseheads, Elmira

* Number of teams qualified: 3

* 1st round matchups: #3 Elmira at #2 Horseheads (#1 Corning receives bye)

* Dates of games: Semi-final – 5/29; Championship – 6/1

* Most intriguing 1st round game: #3 Elmira at #2 Horseheads.  This one was easy, because it’s the only one.  These STAC West division foes have tangled twice already, and it’s been lopsided in Horseheads’ favor – 11-1 and 12-0.  It seems as if Elmira started to figure things out after the second loss, as they won their next four straight, and seven of the last eight.  The one loss was a close one to Corning, 2-0.  They last played Union-Endicott and won 8-3, with Jasmine Cook providing the offense (2 doubles, 3 RBIs) and the pitching (5 innings, no runs).  She’ll need to be on her game again if the Express want to pull the road upset.  Perhaps this is the best time to play Horseheads, as they’ve been on a minor skid lately, losing two straight to Corning to lose control of the West and a STAC playoff berth.  There’s still a lot to like about the Blue Raiders, as their offense features Division I talent, and Maddie Rogers and her multiple no-hitters on the mound.

* Other thoughts: Corning gets the bye to the championship based on their impressive run late in the season.  The one drawback is that Championship Saturday at BAGSAI isn’t until June 1, so they’ll have nearly two full weeks in between playing the STAC Championship game and the Class AA Championship.  I’m sure they’ll look to stay sharp with scrimmages.  Heck, they’re so talented, they can scrimmage themselves and get plenty out of it.  Corning took two of three against Horseheads and swept Elmira in two very close games of 2-0.

 

Class A

* Top 4 seeds: Maine-Endwell, Johnson City, Vestal, Union-Endicott

* Number of teams qualified: 4

* 1st round matchup: #4 Union-Endicott at #1 Maine-Endwell, #3 Vestal at #2 Johnson City

* Dates of games: Semi-finals – 5/29; Championship – 6/1

* Most intriguing 1st round game: #3 Union-Endicott at #1 Maine-Endwell.  It’s a rematch of last year’s Class A Championship game, won by M-E 10-3.  In that game, U-E’s Taylor Mischler led off the game with a solo homer, then added a second one later in the game.  That was against Class A Player of the Year Emily Hess, and now M-E has Allie L’Amoreaux, who owns a pair of no-hitters this year.  If the Tigers thought things would get easier this year with Hess gone, that certainly isn’t the case.  The momentum is definitely with M-E, as they just claimed their second STAC Championship in three years, and have won six straight.  U-E will have to get a big day from their main players like Abby Madigan and Mischler, and need Amanda Kiser to find a way to keep M-E off balanced.

* Other thoughts: The only other matchup is #3 Vestal at #2 Johnson City, and these two teams are no strangers to each other as well.  Vestal swept the season series by scores of 4-1 and 10-7.  Vestal is riding a high, as they won both games in the Mudville Tournament before their second win over JC.  The Wildcats have taken some lumps recently against tough competition in Owego, Elmira, M-E, and Horseheads.  We’ll see if they have what it takes to hold serve at home and advance to the Class A Championship.  If Vestal and M-E both advance, it’ll be a rematch of the 2017 championship, won by M-E 5-3.

 

Class B

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

* Number of teams qualified: 6

* 1st round matchups: #6 Dryden at #3 Windsor, #5 Chenango Forks at #4 Owego (#1 Susquehanna Valley and #2 Waverly receive byes)

* Dates of games: Quarterfinals – 5/28; Semi-finals – 5/30; Championship – 6/1

* Most intriguing 1st round game: #5 Chenango Forks at #4 Owego.  Here’s an interesting matchup in that Forks has the better record (8-5), but Owego (6-10) gets the home game based on strength of schedule and quality wins.  These teams met back on April 9, which seems like ages ago, and Owego came away with the 6-3 win, thanks to a 6-spot in the 2nd inning that held up.  Only having six wins is a bit deceiving when you look at their scores, as they’ve been competitive in many games.  Plus, you have to consider that they play in the STAC Metro, which means some tough opponents and road games.  Forks, on the other hand, split with both Windsor and Susquehanna Valley.  Unfortunately for them, both loses came later in the season, as they’ve lost their last three games, including a 20-5 shellacking against U-E.  Forks still has plenty of talent, so if they can create some offense off of Owego starter Chelsea Sellars, they can grab the road win.

* Other thoughts: Waverly gets the well-earned bye based on their terrific season, which has seen them just barely lose the IAC Championship to a talented Edison.  They get the winner of Dryden at Windsor.  A potential Windsor at Waverly game would be a can’t miss game, as Windsor has competed in at least the last 11 Class B Championship games (and possibly more, as my records only go so far back).  Susquehanna Valley gets the Forks at Owego winner.  SV just keeps on rolling, as they won three of four in the very tough Morabito Tournament, and were edged by Corning in the STAC Semi-final, 2-1.  They’ll be a really tough out.  A #1 vs. #2 matchup of SV vs. Waverly would mean three straight years of these teams going at it, as SV won both games in nail biters at their home field.  This time, it would come on a neutral field at BAGSAI.

 

Class C

* Top 4 seeds: Elmira Notre Dame, Edison, Greene, Candor

* Number of teams qualified: 15

* 1st round matchups: #15 Oxford at #2 Edison, #14 Unatego at #3 Greene, #13 Sidney at #4 Candor, #12 Groton at #5 Tioga, #11 Union Springs at #6 Newark Valley, #10 Spencer-Van Etten at #7 Bainbridge-Guilford, #9 Odessa-Montour at #8 Harpursville (#1 Elmira Notre Dame receives a bye)

* Dates of games: 1st round – 5/22, 5/23; Quarterfinals – 5/28; Semi-finals – 5/30; Championship – 6/1

* Most intriguing 1st round game: #9 Odessa-Montour at #8 Harpursville.  Here’s a sneaky good game between the IAC and MAC.  Odessa-Montour took eventual Class C finalist Elmira Notre Dame to the limit in last year’s sectionals, only losing 2-0.  They have a true stud on the mound, Grace Vondracek, who struck out 23 hitters in one game this season (which was actually a loss).  Holy cow!  She’ll have her hands full with Harpursville, who upset higher-seeded Greene to reach the MAC Championship game.  Harpursville has enjoyed a great season that has seen them beat MAC foes Bainbridge-Guilford, Afton, and Greene.  They have their own ace on the mound, Harley Bunker, who has picked up plenty of wins this season.  If O-M can get some support for Vondracek, they have to like their chances of pulling the road upset.

* Other thoughts: If O-M does win in the first round, they immediately matchup with Elmira Notre Dame, who is the #1 seed with a bye.  The top part of their bracket is full of solid teams like Candor and Tioga as well, so getting to the championship won’t be easy.  Still, they have to be full of confidence right now, as they won seven straight before losing 1-0 to Edison in the IAC Semi-finals, and get the bye to stay fresh.  Speaking of, Edison is on the other side of the bracket, as they take on Oxford, then potentially the winner of Spencer-Van Etten at B-G.  If Greene can hold serve and win their first two games, a matchup featuring Olivia Kennedy vs. Bella Willsey in the semi-final will be terrific.

 

Class D

* Top 4 seeds: Deposit, Marathon, Schenevus, Afton

* Number of teams qualified: 12

* 1st round matchups: #12 Worcester at #5 Gilboa, #11 Jefferson at #6 Roxbury, #10 Milford at #7 Richfield Springs, #9 Laurens at #8 Davenport (Top 4 seeds receives byes)

* Dates of games: 1st round – 5/22, 5/23; Quarterfinals – 5/28; Semi-finals – 5/30; Championship – 6/1

* Most intriguing 1st round game: #10 Milford at #7 Richfield Springs.  It’s a rematch of the Tri-Valley Semi-final, which saw Milford pull the upset, 9-6.  In that one, Aubrey Hall hit a homer and drove in two, and Leanna West picked up the victory on the mound along with three hits.  Richfield Springs gets a crack at redemption, as it’s another home game for them.  They’re on a little bit of skid, as they also dropped the consolation game to Schenevus, 8-4.  Before the league playoffs, it was all good for Richfield Springs, as they went 8-1 to start the season.  One of those wins was 16-11 over Milford.  The rubber match decides who moves on to play Marathon in the Quarterfinals.

* Other thoughts: I can analyze all of these teams over and over, but the bottom line is, it’s Deposit’s bracket to lose.  Much like I said about them last year, without dominant teams like Edmeston from 2016-2017 and Afton from 2015 in the way, it’s hard to see any team beating them.  Again, their biggest hurdle they will face is looking too far down the line into the state tournament.  In last year’s Class D final against Marathon, it was only a 3-0 game heading into the bottom of the 5th before the Lumberjacks scored 19 runs.  That was more of a credit to how well Marathon was playing for most of that game.  Marathon has only gotten better since then, as they played Waverly tough in a 6-3 defeat in the IAC Semi-final.  Roxbury is fresh off of the Delaware Championship, and they would have Schenevus in the Quarterfinal if they can get by Jefferson first.  That would be a closely contested contest.  The one thing all 11 teams not named Deposit have going for them is that they truly would face zero expectations of upsetting the undefeated Lumberjacks in the championship, and can hopefully use that as motivation to play loose and go for the upset.  It’s a large task, but you never know.

5/20/19

 

After a long wait, the STAC Championship is finally set.  Let’s take a look at this heavyweight matchup:

 

* STAC Championship – Tuesday at 5:00: West champ Corning at Metro champ Maine-Endwell.  Here’s a battle of the state’s 8th ranked team in Class AA (Corning) against the 5th ranked team in Class A (M-E).  Corning has been on quite a roll as of late.  After dropping a game to Union-Endicott on May 2, the Hawks have ran off seven straight.  They found their backs against the wall in needing to beat Horseheads twice in as many days to win the West division, and they did just that.  They then edged Susquehanna Valley in the semi-final, 2-1.  Before all of that, one of those wins during the streak was against M-E on May 11.  Laura Bennett, who somehow continues to get better and better after building up quite the lofty bar, pitched a two-hitter that day.  That’s no small feat, as the Spartans are loaded on offense.  I’m really looking forward to seeing two of the best pitchers in New York go at it – Bennett vs. Allie L’Amoreaux.  Both have thrown a pair of no-hitters this season, and actually did their first ones on the same day, April 10.  Both offenses have big names who can mash – such as Corning’s Kalea Faulk and Atalyia Rijo, and M-E with Amanda DeSantis and Mere Rose. You could make the argument that M-E is the more rested team, as they beat Ithaca on Saturday, then won a doubleheader against Webster-Schroeder at home on Sunday, but got Monday off to rest and recoup.  Corning has played in one high-pressure game after another starting on Wednesday in beating Vestal, then Friday and Saturday over Horseheads, and Monday over SV.  M-E obviously has the home field advantage, but that didn’t stop Corning from shutting them out in M-E last time.  If you believe in momentum, then Corning is your team, as they’re making all the big plays right now to win.  If you lean towards M-E, you point out that they’re a little fresher and get to play at home.  Like most other Corning games lately, expect this one to be tight and go right down to the end.  If you like softball, the softball field at M-E Middle School is the place to be on Tuesday.

5/13/19

 

The MAC Semi-finals are the next preview, as they will be played at the higher seeds on Tuesday (weather permitting, so quite possibly on Wednesday).  The championship is set for Thursday at Oneonta St.  Here’s a look at each matchup:

 

* MAC Semi-final – Tuesday, 4:30: #4 Bainbridge-Guilford at #1 Deposit.  If you’ve followed this league the last few years, you knew that these two teams would probably run into each other somewhere in the playoffs.  The last two years, it’s been Deposit beating B-G in the championship by scores of 2-0 (2017) and 3-0 (2018).  This year, with B-G falling to Unatego, Harpursville, and Deposit late in the season, it’s a semi-final matchup at Deposit.  You know the story with Deposit – a future New York Hall of Famer in Makenzie Stiles on the mound, with 16 career perfect games on her resume.  They also have stars like Bryn Martin, Riley Martin, and Mikayla Martin to lead the offense, among others.  I would say they’ve had B-G’s number, but that they’ve had everybody’s number during this incredible run they’ve been on for several years.  For B-G, they have to find a way to keep the game close and make Deposit nervous late in the game.  They did a decent job of that back on May 8, as it was only 3-0 heading into the 7th before Deposit added on three runs to put it away for good.  Most of their starts have gone to Morgan Neidig, and if she’s on her game, there’s no reason to think that this won't be close.  I’ll put it like this – if B-G can win a road game in Deposit, it would be a serious statement victory.  We’ll see.

 

* MAC Semi-final – Tuesday, 4:30: #3 Harpursville at #2 Greene.  Both teams have enjoyed great seasons, and have been able to hold off teams like Afton and Unatego to make the playoffs.  Greene won the first matchup on April 22, 4-1.  I’d love to give you details about it, but it’s one of those games that didn’t get any newspaper love.  Oh well.  I do know the Greene has a couple of pitchers who have thrown no-hitters this year: Olivia Kennedy with four, and young Payton Yahner with one.  Greene’s only losses this season have been to Bainbridge-Guilford and Deposit.  Harpursville seems to do things in bunches, as they started the year with four straight wins before dropping three straight.  They then won six straight and are now on a two-game skid.  When Harpursville is on, their offense is really on, as they recently put up 23 on Unadilla Valley and 22 on Afton.  The Greene pitching will be much harder to do that against, so the Hornets will have to get a big game from a top player like Alexus Roys to win.  They’ll also need Harley Bunker to be at her best on the mound.  Greene’s hitting has been high-powered all season, but their lowest scoring win was against Harpursville.  A key could be which team gets off to the quicker start.  With Harpursville on a recent slide, a good or bad start could either make or break them based on their recent results.

5/12/19

 

It’s already that time of year, as league playoffs are taking shape and will be starting up this week.  Let’s take a look at the semi-final matchups in both the IAC and Tri-Valley.

 

* IAC Semi-final – Tuesday, 3:00 at Cornell University: Division 1 winner Marathon vs. Division 3 winner Waverly.  Marathon recently clinched the Division 1 championship with a big win over Candor, 7-4, their second win over them this season.  Candor only has three losses this season, one to Class AA Ithaca, so Marathon survived an early test.  They’re about to receive the ultimate test in 14-1 Waverly, who has been cruising all season long.  There’s two teams across Section IV who have annihilated the competition – Waverly and Deposit.  Each score a bunch of runs, and each has a stud on the mound who doesn’t give up any.  For Waverly, it’s all about Wendi Hammond, a University at Albany recruit who has spun five no-hitters this season, including one perfect game.  She’s as close to untouchable as they come.  She’s backed up by a potent offense led by players like Riley Hall, Morgan Adams, Hali Jenner, Kari VanAllen, and many others.  If you’re Marathon, you can basically approach this game with the “Nothing to Lose, Everything to Gain” mentality, as it’s hard to see many thinking they have a chance.  But the Olympians went to the Class D title game last year, held off a very good Candor team this year, and have proven that they belong in this position.  If they can somehow, someway get Hammond a bit rattled, they stand a chance.  It will be really tough, but who knows?

 

* IAC Semi-final – Tuesday, 5:30 at Cornell University: Wild Card winner Elmira Notre Dame vs. Division 2 winner Edison.  This is a game that lately got a whole lot more interesting.  These two teams have both been great all season, but it was Elmira ND that got a 1-0 victory over Edison this past Friday.  Tiyah Moffe drove in Payton Maloney for the game’s only run.  Edison has been terrific all season long, and started off the year 9-0 before losing to Waverly 3-0.  They have since gone 4-2, including splitting a pair in the Mudville Tournament.  Elmira ND has two blemishes all season long, dropping a pair to Waverly.  They’ve put up double-digit runs in eight games, and showed they can win a low scoring game with the win over Edison.  On paper, the Wild Card winner would be considered the underdog, but in this case, it seems the odds should be split right down the middle.  Edison has Bella Willsey, who pitched a shutout and hit a solo home run in winning last year’s Class C championship over Elmira ND, 1-0.  The rematch should be just as tight and just as good.  Moffe counters for the Crusaders, and she held a loaded Spartans’ offense to just four hits on Friday.  This will be a good one.

 

* Tri-Valley Semi-final – Monday, 4:30: #4 Laurens at #1 Schenevus. Schenevus has enjoyed a tremendous season that has so far seen them win 14 of their 15 games.  One win was over Laurens 17-5 back on May 2.  In that one, Hannah Osborne had four hits, Cassie Snyder three, and Autumn Jones and Erika Spranger two apiece.  Alexis Hults went the distance for the win, shaking off a bit of wildness with six walks, but striking out seven.  Their offense is very impressive, as they regularly put up around 20 runs, and have only gone cold once against Bainbridge-Guilford.  For Laurens, Skylar White will mostly likely get the ball, and she’ll have to find a way to keep her team in the game.  Laurens is also capable of scoring lots of runs, so it’s not like they can’t win a slugfest themselves.  Laurens will be looking to flip the script from last year, when they were the #1 seed and got knocked off by #4 seed Richfield Springs, 12-10. Maybe they’ll enjoy the roll of underdog a little more.

 

* Tri-Valley Semi-final – Monday, 4:30: #3 Milford at #2 Richfield Springs.  These teams met on April 24, and it was a 16-11 victory for Richfield Springs.  It was only an 11-10 advantage for Richfield Springs in the 6th, but they scored five runs to pull away.  Evonna Mower was the big star, driving in four on four hits.  Kennadi Butler, Jackie Hosford, and Beth Snyder all picked up two hits and combined for nine RBI’s.  Jenna Banks countered with four hits to lead Milford.  If you look at the date, you’re probably not surprised to know that it was a cold day, so with warmer weather hopefully in the cards for this one, it could be a different game.  Milford has played very well since that loss, winning four games in lopsided fashion, and only losing a close one to Laurens, 6-5.  Richfield Springs has been consistent all season long, as their only loss was to Schenevus, 4-1.  Both teams are riding positive momentum with winning streaks heading into this one, so I would expect a tight game.

 

* Keep in mind that the weather looks pretty rough on Monday and Tuesday, so these games could easily be pushed back a day or two.  In other words, nothing is changed from any other week around here.

 

Some other thoughts from around Section IV…

 

* Corning picked up a big win over Maine-Endwell on Friday, 4-0.  Laura Bennett, who will take her talents to Le Moyne next season, dominated on the mound by throwing a two-hitter on seven strikeouts.  That’s no easy feat against a powerful lineup like M-E, who just came off of consecutive shutout victories over solid teams in Vestal and Union-Endicott.  For Corning, it keeps them in the STAC West division race with Horseheads, as both teams will tangle in Corning on Tuesday.  Since losing to Horseheads 6-3 back on April 23, they’ve won six of their last seven.  M-E has games against Ithaca, Binghamton, and Johnson City this week before most likely playing in the STAC playoffs at Chenango Valley on Saturday.  If they do make the playoffs, they will receive a bye into the final, and could possibly have a quick rematch with Corning.

 

* Makenzie Stiles.  My goodness.  Let’s just pause right here and examine the week that she just experienced, which technically began on Sunday by being named MVP of the Morabito Tournament in Mudville: almost no-hit Afton, perfect game over Greene, almost no-hit Bainbridge-Guilford, no-hit Harpursville, perfect game over Hancock.  Zero runs surrendered.  Deposit ups their record to 15-0.  She’s also more than carrying her weight at the plate as well.  The Lumberjacks are a talented team and are more than just Stiles (yes, really).  This is a club that has played in countless high-pressure situations the last few years, and have to go into every game fully confident that they’ll find a way to win.  Stiles is down to a handful of starts left in her high school career, and we’ll see what her final tallies will be.  Let’s just enjoy watching this team while it lasts.

 

* If you scroll down to the bottom of my home page, I have updated the “2019 Important Games” section to reflect league, sectional, regional, and state championship schedules and dates.  Obviously many of the games are to be determined, but you’ll get an idea of when games will be played, which will most likely be slightly adjusted along the way with rainouts.  Basically, we’ve got about a month left of action this season, which takes us through the state championships in Glens Falls on Saturday, June 15.

 

* The regular season will be wrapping up this week, as teams will look to finish out their schedules and rack up sectional points, which are good through next Sunday, May 19.

            - Monday: Tri-Valley Semi-finals at higher seeds, Vestal at Corning, Johnson City at Horseheads, Union-Endicott at Elmira

            - Tuesday: IAC Semi-finals at Cornell, Horseheads at Corning, Union-Endicott at Owego, Johnson City at Vestal, Harpursville at Greene

            - Wednesday: IAC Championship at Cornell, Maine-Endwell at Johnson City, Horseheads at Union-Endicott

            - Thursday: Delaware Championship at Oneonta (Neahwa Park), Tri-Valley Championship at SUNY Delhi, Chenango Forks at Johnson City and Susquehanna Valley at Johnson City (Doubleheader), Binghamton at Waverly

            - Friday: Waverly at Tioga

            - Saturday: STAC Semi-finals and Final at Chenango Valley

* As I stated before, the weather could really wreak havoc on the schedule, especially the beginning of the week.  If (When) changes are made, I will do my best to put them out there on my Twitter page.  In the meantime, hope for sun and 70s, and enjoy another week of softball!

5/5/19

 

We’ve hit the month of May, which means league and sectional playoffs will soon be starting up.  This week I’ll focus on the five different leagues that make up Section IV (STAC, IAC, MAC, Delaware, and Tri-Valley) and the teams that could contend for championships.

 

I want to note that this is not an official preview of which teams are in the playoffs, rather a peek at who could be the contenders.

 

* STAC.  The STAC playoffs will be held on Saturday, May 18 at Chenango Valley.  Since there’s only three divisions, it won’t be a true “Final Four.”  Instead, the Metro champion gets a bye into the finals, and East vs. West in the semi-finals.  Please do not ask me to make any logic of just awarding a team a championship berth, but I digress.

            - Metro: Maine-Endwell is in the driver’s seat, as they have yet to lose a game in STAC.  Their only losses this year were in the Shenendehowa Forever Missed Tournament.  They would have to get swept in their remaining games against Johnson City, Union-Endicott, and Vestal for either one of those teams to possibly jump up and take over the lead.  While a loss could happen, it’s hard to see M-E losing all three, even against quality opponents.

            - West: Horseheads only has one STAC blemish this year, this past week against M-E.  In the division, the Blue Raiders swept Elmira, and defeated Corning, with a rematch coming on Friday.  Corning will need to win that game if they want any chance of coming out on top.

            - East: This is the biggest division at six teams, and the top three of Susquehanna Valley, Windsor, and Chenango Forks have all battled each other really tightly so far.  SV beat Windsor twice already, and split with Forks.  Windsor hasn’t played many games yet, but also split with Forks.  The two losses to SV really hurt them and will possibly be too much for them to overcome.  To put it bluntly, the Sabers really don’t have much of a challenge within the division left, as they will finish up with Chenango Valley, Norwich, and Oneonta.  Barring something catastrophic, the East division belongs to SV.

 

* IAC.  Like STAC, the IAC has also dropped down from four divisions to three (STAC did so last season).  Unlike STAC, their playoff structure is much better, as there’s a wild card that will sneak in from either Division 2 or 3 (the bigger enrollment schools, hence tougher schedules).

            - Division 1: There’s a great battle brewing between Candor and Marathon.  At last check, both teams have only two losses.  Candor did beat Marathon 15-14 back on April 10, a game that saw Marathon score eight runs in the 7th to tie it at 14, only to see Candor win it in the bottom half on a Searra Allen walk-off single.  The rematch will happen on Tuesday, and it should be another great one.

            - Division 2: Edison has one loss this season to Waverly, and after sweeping both games against Tioga, has left no doubt that they will clinch a spot in the league playoffs.  When your closest win was 8-2 over Tioga, you know you’ve had a great season.

            - Division 3: It’s Waverly’s world this year, and we’re all just living in it.  They’ve beaten their next closest competition Elmira Notre Dame twice, so like Edison, they’ve left no doubt who the best team is.

            - Wild Card: Tioga and Elmira Notre Dame are at the head of the pack not currently in the division lead.  They do not play against each other, so it will come down to how they do against everybody else the rest of the season.

 

* MAC. The top four teams make the playoffs, with all three games being played at the team with the better record.  The top three teams are obvious: Deposit, Bainbridge-Guilford, and Greene.  The fourth team looks to be Harpursville as of now, with Afton lurking nearby.  They play each other in Harpursville on Tuesday.  A potential B-G vs. Greene semi-final matchup will be a very good one, with B-G ending Greene’s unbeaten run earlier last week, 4-1.  Deposit still has games against all four of the other teams mentioned remaining.  It’s possible they could tumble out of the #1 seed, but throwing in the fact that they haven’t lost a game this season, it’s hard to see that happening.

 

* Delaware. The top two make the championship in this league (at least that’s how it’s been in the past), with the title game scheduled for next Thursday at Neahwa Park in Oneonta.  A rematch between Roxbury and Gilboa could very well be in the offering, as each has taken a win against the other.  In the first game, Roxbury gave Gilboa their first loss 5-1, but Gilboa bounced back to beat Roxbury 10-9 on Saturday in the championship of the Prattsville Floodway Series.  Davenport could possibly sneak in there, as they beat Roxbury earlier this season, with one more game against them coming on May 16 (which is also the same day the league championship is scheduled, so this date could be wrong).  Gilboa swept Davenport already, so it appears that they are in full control of their fate.

 

* Tri-Valley. The two semi-final games will be played at the higher seed, with the championship coming next Thursday at SUNY Delhi.  It was Schenevus winning it all last year, and considering they’ve already clinched the regular season Tri-Valley title, are etched in stone as the #1 seed.  Right behind them are Richfield Springs and Laurens, who could be in for a semi-final clash.  Richfield Springs already beat Laurens 6-5 to open the season.  The final team looks to be a battle between Worcester and Milford.  Lo and behold, they will face off this Tuesday.

 

* As usual, let’s take a look at the big matchups ahead this week:

            - Monday: Corning at Maine-Endwell, Windsor at Union-Endicott, Candor at Odessa-Montour, Harpursville at Bainbridge-Guilford

            - Tuesday: Union-Endicott at Chenango Forks, Elmira at Vestal, Corning at Owego, Marathon at Candor, Afton at Harpursville, Greene at Deposit, Worcester at Milford

            - Wednesday: Owego at Johnson City, Vestal at Maine-Endwell, Elmira at Corning, Waverly at Tioga, Deposit at Bainbridge-Guilford

            - Thursday: Maine-Endwell at Union-Endicott, Afton at Deposit

            - Friday: Maine-Endwell at Johnson City, Union-Endicott at Owego, Horseheads at Corning, Elmira Notre Dame at Edison, Deposit at Harpursville

            - Saturday: Johnson City at Elmira, Fayettville-Manlius at Chenango Forks, Windsor, Afton, and Edison at Mudville Tournament, Trumansburg Spring Slam Tournament (Trumansburg, Ithaca, Candor, and one other), Unatego Tournament (Unatego vs. Schenevus, Gilboa vs. Oxford)

 

* Lots of great games to look forward to this week, so get out there and support!

4/28/19

 

This week brought us four solid days of action, followed by two days of nearly complete washouts (or snow-outs on Saturday).  Lots still went on, so let’s get to it.

 

* The big matchup this week was between the #2 Class B team in the state, Waverly, taking on the #1 Class C team in the state, Edison.  Did Thursday’s game live up to the hype?  You betcha’.  Waverly gave Edison their first loss of the season, 3-0.  The great Wendi Hammond tossed a three-hitter with 13 strikeouts to keep a loaded Spartans lineup off-balanced.  A run-scoring single by Kari VanAllen brought in the first run in the 2nd, which ultimately proved to be all the Wolverines needed.  Some good glove work by Waverly ensured the win, as they tacked on a couple of runs in the 7th for breathing room before a Hammond K ended the game.

 

Both teams can gain a whole lot from this one.  For Waverly, it’s another win as part of a 13-1 start to their season.  They’ve already played and defeated Elmira Notre Dame twice, split a couple of tough games in Mudville, and took down a great team from Pennsylvania, Athens.  Any big game experience they can gain from playing a team like Edison will more than pay off come sectional time.  Speaking of that, Edison can use all of the challenges they can get.  To their credit, they’ve scored a whopping 164 runs in their 9-0 start to the season, good for a little over 18 runs a game.  And to be honest, it probably could be much more if they didn’t have a heart by not running up scores.  Their best competition this year before this game was probably Tioga, and that was a 21-6 win.  I know head coach Liz Warren will welcome her team playing in close games and seeing how her team can respond.  They’re the reigning Class C champions, and fell to Sandy Creek 1-0 in nine innings in Regionals.  Opponents like Waverly will help strengthen them for possible state tournament games again going forward.

 

* While I’m on the subject of big games against good opponents, it was a bummer that Saturday’s weather completely derailed the much anticipated Mary Testa Tournaments across five locations.  A few games were started but not completed at Newark Valley, Chenango Valley, and Vestal.  Windsor did not get any games in.  I believe the same to be true at Union-Endicott, although I never did receive official word.  But I can’t imagine they had any luck either.  Big-time matchups like Deposit vs. Corning, Edison vs. Chenango Forks, and Vestal vs. Elmira, among others, weren’t meant to be.  Once the weather came into play, the Vestal site changed their games to Edison vs. Vestal and Chenango Forks vs. Elmira (which did start and saw Forks take an 8-3 lead after three innings, only for it to be called).  Now that these teams have a couple of open dates on their schedules, hopefully they can work to get these games rescheduled.  Or, look to crossover and play a team in another league that will give them good competition.  We’re quickly making our way to league playoff time, so it can only help.

 

* I haven’t said a whole lot about Deposit yet, mostly because they just haven’t played much.  But when they have, it’s been business as usual at 4-0.  I feel a bit strange even typing that, because the Lumberjacks have built the bar so high for themselves (sky high, to be exact), that it’s easy to take for granted just how great they are.  I’m here to remind everyone that we need to appreciate this team while they stay together.  So far, they’ve destroyed Delhi, Walton, Unadilla Valley, and Unatego by a combined score of 67-0.  Two of those games have featured no-hitters by University of Pittsburgh bound Makenzie Stiles, with the opener against Delhi being a perfect game.  Unatego came into Wednesday’s game full of confidence after handing Bainbridge-Guilford their first loss on Monday, then crushing Unadilla Valley 28-2 on Tuesday.  The result?  Deposit 15 – Unatego 0 in six innings.  Stiles tossed a one-hitter with 17 strikeouts, Bryn Martin hit a three-run bomb, and Riley Martin had four hits and five runs driven in.  It was a beatdown to say the least. 

 

When will they be challenged?  Games against Corning and possibly Susquehanna Valley didn’t happen at the Mary Testa Tournament on Saturday, so it might not come until they go to the Mudville Tournament on May 4 and 5.  They get to play Putnam Valley in the first game, who are ranked #12 in Class C.  They will then play the winner or loser of Rondout Valley or Mechanicville that day, and get to play two more games on Sunday.  Looking ahead even further, they play Greene, B-G, and Afton in three straight games from May 7-9.  We’ll see where the Lumberjacks are come later in May, but for now, there’s no reason to think that they can’t keep this red hot start going longer.

 

* Another team making some noise is Vestal.  They picked up a couple of impressive wins this week by downing Johnson City 4-1 and Union-Endicott 8-4.  Kay Farro has been great on the mound, and she’s gotten help from Emma Hroncich in the JC win and Morgan Gendron in the U-E win, as each went 2-for-3 with 2 RBIs.  They have a very busy week coming up with games against U-E, Horseheads, Owego, JC, and a non-league game against Waverly on Saturday.  It will be tough to overtake Maine-Endwell for tops in the STAC Metro, but come sectional time, will look for a deep run in Class A.

 

* Candor has enjoyed quite the season thus far in the IAC.  On Wednesday, they found themselves down 8-0 to a very good Odessa-Montour, only to rally in the 4th and eventually win 9-8 in eight innings.  An inside-the-park two-run homer by Asia Curkendall got the Indians within one in the 7th, and an RBI double by Emily Hopkins tied it up.  Addie Aman took matters into her own hands in the 8th by taking a walk, stealing second, stealing third, and scampering home on a bad throw to 3rd.  That ran their record to 7-2, and are in a great position to get into the IAC playoffs by winning Division 1.  Look out for them the rest of the season.

* There must have been something in the air on Monday, as there were four no-hitters tossed: Bella Willsey of Edison, Grace Vondracek of Odessa-Montour, Kindra Wessels of Tioga, and Stiles.  Kalista Holt of Windsor threw one the next day.  I've said it before and I'll say it again - the pitching in this area is filthy rich.  By my count, there have been 16 no-hitters already this season, and possibly more here or there that haven't been reported.  It's getting hard for me to even keep up with them!

 

* One can only hope the worst of the weather will be over with after this weekend, and that sunny days will be here to stay.  Let’s take a peek at some big games coming this week:

            - Monday: Vestal at Union-Endicott, Elmira at Horseheads, Edison at Tioga, Davenport at Roxbury, Jefferson at Gilboa

            - Tuesday: Vestal at Horseheads, Greene at Bainbridge-Guilford

            - Wednesday: Vestal at Owego, Horseheads at Maine-Endwell, Chenango Forks at Susquehanna Valley, Odessa-Montour at Marathon, Unatego at Greene, Roxbury at Gilboa

            - Thursday: None of note

            - Friday: Johnson City at Vestal, Maine-Endwell at Union-Endicott, Corning at Owego, Windsor at Chenango Forks, Jefferson at Roxbury, Schenevus at Laurens

            - Saturday: Waverly at Vestal, Marathon at Tully, Maine-Endwell at Shenendehowa Tournament, Susquehanna Valley and Deposit at Mudville, Gilboa Tournament

 

* Next week, I’ll take a look at league playoff contenders for STAC, IAC, MAC, Tri-Valley, and Delaware.  Until then, enjoy another week of softball, and thank you once again to all who have sent in scores on Twitter or email. Keep 'em coming!

4/21/19

 

This week was a bit lighter on the schedule, as many schools were on Spring Break (if not all), and some took the week off of games with it.  Others had plenty of action, including Horseheads, Elmira, and Corning all going to Myrtle Beach to play and rack up big wins, representing Section IV very well.

 

* One of the bigger games in this area was Maine-Endwell picking up a 2-0 victory over Union-Endicott in a Class A championship rematch from 2018.  Rob Centorani of the Press covered the game and described Allie L’Amoreaux as having a “scintillating performance” on the mound, striking out 17 in a three-hitter.  That’s the perfect way to describe how she’s pitching, as M-E hasn’t missed a beat since the graduation of two-time Class A Player of the Year Emily Hess.  L’Amoreaux already owns a no-hitter this season, and has guided the Spartans to a 5-0 record thus far.  In this game, it was M-E taking advantage of a big error to put runners on the corners.  Amanda DeSantis found just enough room for a bloop RBI single after that, and a bunt by Helena Layton was enough to bring home L’Amoreaux for the second run.  That was more than enough.

 

Perhaps Johnson City took advantage of a reeling U-E the next day, as the Wildcats won a 2-1 decision over the Tigers that lasted nine innings.  I’d love to tell you the “how” and the “why,” but no results are out there (not even on GameChanger that I could find).  Sigh.  We’ll assume JC’s Katrina Fox pitched another gem.  After starting 2-0, JC dropped a couple to Corning and M-E, but have bounced back very well with wins over Owego and U-E.  For a team looking to get back into sectionals after missing it last year, this is a big boost for them.

 

* While I’m at it, here’s my plea to coaches out there: Please report your scores.  I recently emailed back and forth with a coach of a Section IV team inquiring about standings, and he basically admitted that it’s really hard to keep track of this because coaches don’t always report on their games.  For example, it seems like some STAC schools are quite the mystery because nothing gets reported to the Press.  Even a simple line score and pitchers used.  Nothing.  I’d love to know more about the players, but when there’s nothing out there, it’s all a guessing game.  Please just take a little bit of time to call or email in a brief report on your games.

 

* To piggyback off of that, to answer a question I get from time to time: No, I do not know what the standings are for any league.  I could maybe figure it out, but this all ties into my last point – even one game here or there not reported completely changes the standings.  The last thing I want to happen is to tally up what I believe the standings are, only to be mistaken and therefore confuse everyone.  Nate Lull of WCDO does a great job posting standings for leagues like the MAC, Tri-Valley, and Delaware, so the best I can do is re-tweet him.  Obviously he finds them out from somewhere, but until I have a league official directly send them to me, it’s something I avoid all together.

 

* Back to the action, and there is a team that won a game over 20 years in the making.  On Tuesday, Ithaca defeated Binghamton 7-5, and according to them, it was their first STAC win in over 20 years.  You read that right – it’s been over 20 years since Ithaca last won a game in STAC.  Wow, those girls must have felt like they won a championship when they realized they were the team to break a streak like that.  Maddie Muscente drove in a couple of runs on two hits, and Jenna Plue went the distance on the mound, striking out six.  It goes without saying that the Little Red have taken their fair share of lumps in recent years, and playing in the STAC West against Binghamton, Horseheads, Corning, and Elmira hasn’t made things any easier.  But, here’s an example of program heading in the right direction by relying on the one thing they can count on – working hard.  This is high schools sports, and if you start building a program from the bottom up, it will pay off once they get to varsity.  Even if Ithaca doesn’t end up lighting the world on fire this year, a win like this over a program like Binghamton would never have happened if they didn’t put in the necessary work, and then some.  Congratulations to these young ladies and coaches for making it happen!

 

* Speaking of the STAC West, I’m sure the members of Horseheads, Corning, and Elmira had the time of their lives in Myrtle Beach this week.  The weather was probably better there (although it actually wasn’t so bad here once we got past Monday), and they played some very good competition and all came away with multiple wins.  Horseheads was the most successful with a 3-1 record, only falling to Greenbrier Christian, Virginia, and even in that they put up three runs in the 7th before losing 4-3. Their 11-3 win over James Madison, Virginia meant they beat the #12 team in the country at the time.  Wow!  Corning went 2-1, highlighted by Laura Bennett pitching a three-hitter with 17 strikeouts in a 12-0 win over Guerin Prep, Illinois.  Elmira evened their record at 2-2 with a 12-2 final day win over Chesterfield, South Carolina.  Bella Reese is most known for her superb pitching, but it was her 4-for-4 performance at the plate with four RBIs that led the way in this one.  All in all, I would think these three teams are plenty thankful for the whole experience.  Not a bad way to spend a Spring Break!

 

* I’m really looking forward to Friday’s big matchup in the MAC, with Deposit visiting Bainbridge-Guilford.  Both teams are undefeated so far, as the Bobcats are 9-0, and the Lumberjacks 2-0.  Talk about some weird scheduling.  B-G just picked up a home win over Afton in which they battled back from an early hole.  Deposit has beaten Delhi and Walton by a combined score of 34-0.  Oh, and Makenzie Stiles threw another perfect game, which only adds to her incredible resume.  Both teams will have a couple of games before this, but even if there’s a loss or two along the way, this will be a huge game.  B-G can counter with one of three pitchers: Kori Thornton, Morgan Neidig, or Alli Miller.  Or perhaps a mixture of the three.  Deposit has beaten B-G to win the last two MAC championships, and along with Greene, are shaping up to be the cream of the crop in this league.  We’ll see how it all shakes out.

 

* The other matchup that will be huge is Waverly at Edison, also on Friday.  Edison is undefeated and untested thus far.  Waverly is basically the same, as they only lost by a run to Class AA Shaker up in Mudville.  I’ve covered Wendi Hammond and her exploits this season, as she tacked on another no-hitter against Elmira Notre Dame this week (no small task at all).  Let’s not forget that Edison won both the IAC Large School and Class C championships last season, and they return their ace Bella Willsey, who does just as much damage at the plate as well.  Reagan Seelye has also taken some innings on the mound, and is quite the stud herself.  These two teams have clearly separated themselves as tops in the IAC, so like the B-G vs. Deposit game, this could also be a league championship preview.

 

* Action will once again by hot and heavy this week, so let’s look at some that I have my eye on:

            - Monday: Vestal at Johnson City, Corning at Horseheads

            - Tuesday: Union-Endicott at Susquehanna Valley, Gilboa at Davenport

            - Wednesday: Maine-Endwell at Owego, Union-Endicott at Vestal, Corning at Elmira, Odessa-Montour at Candor, Afton at Greene

            - Thursday: Horseheads at Binghamton

            - Friday: Deposit at Bainbridge-Guilford, Waverly at Edison, Vestal at Horseheads, Union-Endicott at Corning, Chenango Forks at Chenango Valley, Susquehanna Valley at Windsor, Marathon at Candor

            - Saturday: Mary Testa Tournament at Vestal, Maine-Endwell, Chenango Valley, Union-Endicott, and Newark Valley.  Unatego Tournament (Unatego vs. Schenevus, Gilboa vs. Oxford)

 

* This Saturday, April 27 will be the annual Mary Testa Tournament held across five sites: Vestal, Maine-Endwell, Chenango Valley, Union-Endicott, and Newark Valley.  I’m working on finalizing a schedule for it, as only a couple sites I can confirm each game for sure (CV vs. Susquehanna Valley and Corning vs. Deposit at CV; Vestal vs. Elmira and Edison vs. Chenango Forks at Vestal).  Once I get a final schedule, I will post it on my Twitter page later this week.

 

* By the way, how good are a couple of those games featuring different leagues?  Corning (STAC) vs. Deposit (MAC) has two of the best pitchers in the state in Bennett and Stiles, and Edison (IAC) vs. Chenango Forks (STAC) is a battle of two teams that will be right in the thick of their league and sectional title hunt.  Those are great games to go watch.

 

* Lots going on this week, with plenty more to come.  Enjoy another week of softball!

4/14/19

 

Another full week of softball is in the books.  With some much better luck this year compared to last with the weather (nothing can possibly top the poor weather last year…at least I hope), plenty of teams have gotten in a couple of games, with others as many as 5-6.  We’ll take it.

 

Here’s what’s catching my eye at the midway mark in April…

 

* I have to start with the incredible Wendi Hammond of Waverly, who continues to top her own lofty expectations each time she takes the mound.  The Wolverines stand at 8-1 after taking down powerful Athens of Pennsylvania on Saturday, 2-1 in 8 innings.  Their only blemish of the season is against Class AA Shaker in the Mudville Tournament back on April 6 (Waverly is Class B).  Brian Fees of The Daily Review does a great job tracking her stats, and he noted after the Athens victory that she finally gave up her first earned run of the season after eight games posting a 0.00 ERA.  I’m no expert, but I’m pretty sure you can’t do better than that.  After striking out 14 in the Athens win, she’s now up to 115 on the season.  Oh by the way, she also has two no-hitters (combining with Hali Jenner on one), and a perfect game in which she struck out 14 of the 18 batters.  My goodness.

 

Hammond, an Albany recruit, also recorded her 100th career varsity hit in a victory over Watkins Glen.  Add it all up, and there really isn’t a whole lot more she can do to help the Wolverines win.  It’ll be fun to see just how far she can help lead her talented team this season.  There’s still tough games coming up against Elmira Notre Dame, Edison, and a non-leaguer against Vestal.  Right now, they are neck-and-neck with Edison as the favorite to win the IAC.  Even bigger picture is competing for a Class B championship.  The last non-STAC team to win a Class B title?  Well, I have no idea.  I have results dating back to 2001, and it’s been all STAC teams every year.  Waverly did reach the title game in 2013, but fell 7-0 to a loaded Windsor (and a very young Paige Rauch).  Let’s enjoy all that this young lady is doing this season while we can.  I get a feeling that there’s plenty more to come.

 

* Gilboa is another team catching my attention over in the Delaware League.  They’re currently at 6-0, and with the exception of a 5-1 victory over Margaretville in the second game of a doubleheader, have largely been untested.  Abigail Tompkins has been terrific on the mound, and Alexa Dumas has also gathered a couple of wins.  It’s hard to single out even a couple of people on offense, because every game they put up such a huge number.  But here’s a few who have stood out: Keeley VanValkenburgh, Kelli-Jo VanValkenburgh, Sierra Perry, Hailie Shultis, Elizabeth Cherry, and Cassidy Miller.  With the runs this team scores, I’m sure there’s other names chipping in as well.  In looking at their upcoming schedule, a matchup at home with Roxbury on May 1 appears to be the one to circle.  Roxbury only has a couple of games in, but each was a blowout win.  If Roxbury can’t hang with them, then this division will be Gilboa’s to lose.

 

* How about Greene’s 6-5 comeback win over Chenango Forks on Saturday?  Maybe we should be surprised, but then again, maybe we shouldn’t.  Greene ran their record to 4-0, and considering starting pitcher Olivia Kennedy threw no-hitters in the first two games this season, there’s plenty to like about the Trojans.  In the Forks win, Greene was down 5-1 heading into the bottom of the 7th, but didn’t panic.  They chipped away until Katelyn Pratt knocked in Kennedy with an RBI single.  A couple innings later, Kennedy’s walk-off single drove in McKenzie Scott, who singled and stole 2nd.  Kennedy can do a little of everything, as she’s been very effective on the mound, and is a huge threat at the plate.  McKenna Sergi homered in the Delhi win, and if her name looks familiar, it’s because she is one of the top field hockey players in the entire country and has signed to play at UConn.  That alone speaks volumes to how great of an athlete she is.  Greene will have some tough upcoming battles with Deposit, Harpursville, Afton, and Bainbridge-Guilford, but after a win like this, have to feel really good about their chances going forward.

 

* While we’re talking comebacks, don’t write off Chenango Forks, as they shocked Susquehanna Valley with their own 7th inning surge on Wednesday.  Down 7-4 heading into their last at-bat, Hannah Fuller capped off the huge comeback with a walk-off single.  They’re part of a loaded STAC East division, which includes Windsor (7-6 winner over Vestal on Saturday), SV, and perhaps a resurgent Chenango Valley, who have evened their record at 3-3 after dropping their first three games.  SV themselves bounced right back from the Forks defeat to see freshman Bella Haskins no-hit Norwich.

 

* Four STAC heavyweights that were expected to compete have proven to be just that so far: Maine-Endwell, Union-Endicott, Horseheads, and Corning.  Lo and behold, these were the four teams left standing in last year’s Class AA and A championships (Horseheads beat Corning in AA, M-E beat U-E in A).  It’s hard to see which team has been most impressive, as none of them have lost yet.  On Wednesday, M-E’s Allie L’Amoreaux threw a no-hitter against Johnson City, and Corning’s Laura Bennett did the same against Binghamton.  Those are two teams that are hard to keep hitless, so kudos to both of them.  U-E has Amanda Kiser on the mound, and Horseheads has Maddie Rogers.  Good luck trying to get anything going against those four pitchers.  If you’re looking for advice here on how to do it, I’ve got nothing.

* According to my count, there were seven no-hitters thrown this week (including perfect games by Wendi Hammond and Deposit’s Makenzie Stiles, who upped her state record to 13), increasing the total to 10 for the season.  It’s possible there’s more, but I can only go by what gets reported.  None of this surprises me, because if you know anything about softball in the Section IV area, it’s that the pitching is top notch.  That’s why you see this section do so well in the state tournament – they have the horses on the mound to shut down big offenses.  Forty-seven state championships for Section IV (20 more than the next closest) doesn’t just happen by accident.

 

* A big game, and possible Tri-Valley championship preview, took place on Saturday.  Schenevus defeated Richfield Springs 4-1.  Both teams were coming off of some lopsided victories, but this one was predictably much tighter.  Alexis Hults earned the win in this one, with Erika Spranger getting the W in earlier games.  The talented Kirsten Hess gets the ball for Richfield Springs.  That’s the only game scheduled between these two teams, so a rematch in the league playoffs would be the next time we'd possibly see them tangle.

 

* Many schools (if not all) are on Spring Break this week, but that doesn’t stop the games from being played.  Horseheads, Elmira, and Corning are each competing in Myrtle Beach, which will be quite the experience for everyone.  Here’s some other big games for this week:

            - Monday: Union-Endicott at Chenango Forks, Afton at Deposit

            - Tuesday: Union-Endicott at Maine-Endwell

            - Wednesday: Elmira Notre Dame at Waverly, Afton at Bainbridge-Guilford

            - Thursday: Chenango Valley at Maine-Endwell

            - Friday: None of note

            - Saturday: SFCU Tournament at Bainbridge-Guilford (B-G vs. Sherburne-Earlville, Sidney vs. Harpursville, championship after)

 

* Until next week!

4/7/19

 

With some good fortune this week (with the exception of Friday), nearly every team has been able to get on the board to start the 2019 season.  Some STAC and MAC teams have yet to play, but for the most part, teams have had much better luck this year than they did last.

 

Let’s take a look at the week that was across Section IV…

 

* Three-time defending Class A state champion Maine-Endwell had their first game of the season on Thursday, as they went on the road and downed Elmira 5-0.  It was a good early test for the Spartans, as they no longer have the services of Emily Hess, but return a ridiculous amount of talent that have already played in many big games.  Elmira was without star pitcher Bella Reese, who was out with an injury, so they gave the ball to Jasmine Cook and were only down 1-0 going into the 6th before M-E took over.  Defense appeared to be Elmira’s biggest unraveling, as they committed four errors compared to a clean game by M-E.  Elmira will look to bounce back on Monday against Ithaca, and have a pretty sweet trip to Myrtle Beach over their Spring Break (to play softball, not hangout on the beach.  Or maybe a little of both if they’re lucky).  M-E will have their home opener against an improved Johnson City on Wednesday.

 

* Speaking of “ridiculous,” that would accurately describe the lineup put forth by Horseheads.  They officially opened their new stadium on Thursday, and pounded Owego 15-2.  The offensive highlights were plenty, as Maiah Skakal launched two homers, Emma Loomis and Kendall Cook added two hits, and Tess Cites laced a bases clearing double.  On the mound, Maddie Rogers put up blanks over four innings.  They lost all-state player Alli Richmond (currently at Binghamton U.) but return Cook and Cites as all-state members, along with Abby Packard as a STAC all-star.  Add it all up, and a deep run in June is well within possibility for the Blue Raiders.

 

* Over in the IAC, Waverly has already played six games, destroying five teams, and losing to Class AA Shaker 2-1 in 8 innings.  They then shook that loss off and ran through Fort Plain 9-0.  To start the season, they edged Towanda 3-0 in the opener, and after blowing out Watkins Glen and Dryden, gradually pulled away from Elmira Notre Dame 8-1.  To say that Wendi Hammond has been impressive on the mound would be a massive understatement.  Section IV has been blessed with an insane amount of talent on the mound over the years, and she’s right up there with them.  She combined with Haley Jenner to no-hit Watkins Glen, then did it all by herself next game against Dryden.  At the plate, Riley Hall drove in six runs in the Elmira ND victory, and thumped a couple of home runs in the Fort Plain win.  Here’s a team that gave the incredibly talented Susquehanna Valley everything they could handle the last two postseasons.  You have to think going through those games will only strengthen the Wolverines this year.  This is a very dangerous team.

 

* Edison has also been strong, jumping out to a 3-0 record, and winning by an average of about 18 runs.  In their 13-0 shutout of Spencer Van-Etten, Riley Vincent, Christina Willsey, KK Bush, and Ryleigh Carson all drove in runs.  Reagan Seelye was nearly flawless with a complete game one-hitter.  They’ll have a good test on Tuesday against Tioga, who are coming off of a tough 3-0 defeat to the bigger Owego.  In the new IAC format, this will be a solid Division 2 matchup.

 

* Back in the STAC, there’s a couple of other teams off to great starts.  Susquehanna Valley won the Class B championship rematch over Windsor 3-0.  Sophia Pappas is at Binghamton U., so it was Alex Deeter getting the call and picking up right where she left off with a complete game, 11 K shutout.  She also added a triple.  Shutting down the Black Knights is never an easy task, so kudos to the Sabers.  Chenango Forks has defeated Chenango Valley and Oneonta behind their big offense.  Grace Cadden hit two homers in the Oneonta victory, and with all-state member Avery Copeland also back, the Blue Devils will be looking to make a lot of noise in the very competitive Class B field.

 

* In the Delaware League, Gilboa is 2-0, and once again are putting up massive numbers at the plate.  Last year they had plenty of games in double-digits, but fell short in the Delaware championship game to Roxbury.  They also ran into Makenzie Stiles and Deposit to end their season in the Class D semi-finals.  Still, those are a couple of big games this squad experienced last season, which should only make them better going forward.  Roxbury, by the way, opened with a 21-5 win over South Kortright, so they started off hot.

 

* This week there’s some big games to check out, so let’s take a look (weather permitting, so these are the dates as of now):

            - Monday: Chenango Forks at Owego, Bainbridge-Guilford at Oneonta, Afton at Hancock

            - Tuesday: Johnson City at Corning, Marathon at Candor, Tioga at Edison, Bainbridge-Guilford at Sidney, Delhi at Deposit, Schenevus at Roxbury

            - Wednesday: Johnson City at Maine-Endwell, Binghamton at Corning, Horseheads at Elmira, Susquehanna Valley at Chenango Forks, Edison at Union Springs, CV-S/SS at Laurens

            - Thursday: Elmira at Binghamton

            - Friday: Maine-Endwell at Vestal, Chenango Forks at Windsor, Davenport at Gilboa

            - Saturday: Windsor at Vestal, Chenango Forks at Greene, Athens (PA) at Waverly

 

* Enjoy the week, and go watch some softball!

3/31/19

 

Welcome to the 2019 high school softball season!  With some signs of spring out there (not much, but some), it’s always refreshing to get back outside and watch the sport we love.

 

With that said, there hasn’t been a whole lot of regular season action.  Waverly snuck in two games and won both.  Other teams like Tioga, Johnson City, Gilboa, and Sidney have also gotten on the board.

 

In anticipation of this upcoming week, here’s the openers for some of last year’s big winners across Section IV (weather permitting, of course):

 

* Maine-Endwell (Class A state champions) will play their first game in quite awhile without Emily Hess when they travel to Elmira on Friday in a battle of heavyweights.

 

* Horseheads (STAC champions, Class AA champions) opens home on Friday vs. Owego.

 

* Susquehanna Valley (Class B state runner-up) will begin the post-Sophia Pappas era by going to Windsor in a rematch of last year’s Class B championship game, won by SV 8-0.

 

* Deposit (MAC champions, Class D state runner-up) visits Harpursville on Saturday morning.

* Edison (IAC champions, Class C champions) is home against Moravia on Tuesday.

 

* Roxbury (Delaware champions) will be home against South Kortright on Tuesday.

 

* Schenevus (Tri-Valley champions) goes to Worcester on Tuesday.

 

A couple of other thoughts…

 

* Kudos to the Interscholastic Athletic Conference (IAC) for switching to a three-division format, forgoing the four-division setup they previously had.  Some might not like messing with the tradition of the “Large School” and “Small School” championship games, but in my mind, it was time.  Take a look at the results from the Small School title games in recent years.  Tioga has absolutely walloped any team in their way the past five seasons by an average of about 13-1.  In fact, throw in their titles in the 2010 and 2011 seasons, they’ve won those games by a combined score of 81-5.

 

That’s a huge credit to the dominance of the Tioga program, but it also shows that they are more than ready for a bigger challenge.  The new format, which takes the three division winners, then a Wild Card from Division 2 or 3 (higher enrollments), gives the IAC a true champion.  And let me tell you, the IAC is loaded with teams like Tioga, Waverly, Elmira Notre Dame, Edison, Union Springs, and perhaps others that could surprise.  Let’s also remember that it was Marathon that made it to the Class D championship game last year before falling to Deposit.  I’m excited to see the playoffs in this league.

* And with that said, I really, really wish STAC would do the same.  Having only three teams make the playoffs, with one getting a bye to the championship, feels so hokey.  I understand that it might be tough to choose a Wild Card, but there has to be a way to get four teams in a true playoff.  Please do the right thing!

 

* That’s all for now.  Let’s hope for some positive April weather this week! As usual, I’m always looking for scores to be sent my way after games.  Twitter – DM or tag @sect4softball.  Email – section4softball@gmail.com.  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.
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