The Wellsville softball team is all smiles after another home run by Makenzie Cowburn. John Anderson photo.
Photos, video and story by JOHN ANDERSON
WELLSVILLE — When you play the third-ranked Class AA team in New York state, some of the hard shots that get through an infield die in a glove. And some of the pitches are placed in the perfect spot when you are hitting with two strikes.
The Wellsville softball team witnessed that for a few innings as they hosted Corning Wednesday night at Tullar Field before another large crowd.
When Wellsville (16-3) also ranked No. 3 in the state, in Class B, settled in, a home run and some dazzling plays made it a 3-2 game.
However, Corning (15-1) added an insurance run in the sixth and held on for a 4-2 win.
“(Wellsville coach Matt Burke) and I had been talking for a year now about putting a matchup together, and who would’ve thunk at this moment in time, both teams would be ranked No. 3 in the state in their respective classes?” said Corning coach Mike Johnston. “It was great for me as a coach, 32 years into it and I haven’t played Wellsville in forever, other than boys basketball when Coach (Jerry) Jusianiec’s son (Max) was playing here. It was kinda neat because I was born in Alfred. For me to come back this way and to see how competitive they are, I think Wellsville has a great shot to go a long way.”
Kelsey Booker blasted an opposite field home run to give Corning a 1-0 lead in the second. The lead went to 3-0 when Atalyia Rijo doubled in a run and scored on a groundout RBI by Kelli Zoerb.
Marley Adams made a couple great plays at short and Makenna Dunbar made an outstanding catch in left to keep Corning off the board. That set up the offense.
With two outs in the fifth, Brazen Beckwith turned an 0-2 count into a full count, fouled off two more pitches and walked. Four pitches later, Makenzie Cowburn blasted a home run over the left-center fence at Tullar that was gone when it left the bat.
“They were very competitive and they had us on the ropes when they cut it to 3-2 on the home run,” Johnston said. “(Cowburn) actually hit that off of one leg on a screwball which is a heck of a hit and it means she has a lot of power and she’s long.”
In the top of the sixth, Ellie DeRose led off with a double and scored when Kendyl Curreri reached. But Beckwith threw a runner out to Natalie Adams at third and then Adams made an outstanding play at third to get the final out. But Corning was able to keep Wellsville off the board in the final frame.
“I couldn’t be happier, granted we lost but, boy, our ladies played well and I am very, very proud,” said Wellsville coach Matt Burke. “That’s a really, really good softball team we lost to. Makenzie pitched a super game and Brazen caught a super game and we really did a nice job offensively putting pressure on them and getting on base. We just couldn’t come up with a big hit here or there, but my goodness, I’m very proud of how we played.”
Marley Adams, Emma Dunaway, Marissa Ordway and Makenna Dunbar had hits for Wellsville.
“They have pitching, they have hitting and Coach Burke said they have a couple kids who can throw a little bit if they need to change things up,” Johnston said. “(Cowburn) did it on the mound. We need to see pitching like that to get ready for the postseason. We knew what we were getting into, we knew they were good. Kudos to coach Burke for reaching out and wanting to play a bigger school.”
Wellsville saw an outstanding lefty and a righty, which will help the team in sectionals.
“We try to mix our pitchers, whoever is the hot-hand gets the circle. I’m not afraid at any moment’s notice in the middle of the count, in the middle of the batter,” Johnston said. “We’ve been fortunate. And it comes from hard-work from the kids. They do a lot of work on their own and play high-level travel ball. They are very coachable for us. There are some things we need to improve upon, we had a couple kids back and they looked raw, but this is the stretch run and you have to be playing your best softball and you have to be on-point as far as getting signs and running bases and reacting and playing the game like you have a high IQ. We want higher-level thinkers, and if we want to be successful, that’s our plan, and we are going to win.”
Burke was impressed with Corning and the way the Lions played together.
“Corning had two very good pitchers they threw at us and we hit the ball hard. Their infielders made excellent plays and their shortstop (Atalyia Rijo) is a tremendous player,” Burke said. “A ball hits the hole or drops it might be a different story, but I’m looking at the process and how we worked. Boy, we have good team chemistry and a talented team and I’m very thankful to be the coach. It’s just a really, really good situation for Wellsville softball.”
Bishop Kearney is at Wellsville 7 p.m. Saturday.
“Every game we’ve had at home this year, the Wellsville community has come out in great numbers and have been supportive,” Burke said. “I can’t say enough about it. It’s something we look forward to, the energy playing at home. This ends the 29-game win streak for us at home, but we’ll try to start a new one.”
Corning 012 001 0 — 4 4 3
Wellsville 000 020 0 — 2 5 2
Peyton Sullivan (K, 2BB) Jillian Austin (4) (3K, 2BB) and Kelsey Booker
Makenzie Cowburn (4K, 2BB) and Brazen Beckwith