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By Lacey Gardner

Road to the Final Four: A look at the Wellsville Lions and the tough state softball finals bracket

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Like Wellsville, Marlboro is orange and black. The teams face off on Friday at 4 p.m.

By JOHN ANDERSON

The State Final Four is set for Class B girls’ softball and the Wellsville Sun has an in-depth look at the four teams remaining. One of them, the Ichabod Crane Riders, won 16-5 in the regionals to reach the Final Four and they are the defending state champions in Class B.

Ichabod Crane won the state title with a 12-0 win over Chenango Valley in 2022.

Class B State Semifinals, Friday, 4 p.m.

Moriches Athletic Complex, Long Island

Section V Wellsville Lions (21-1) vs. Section IX Marlboro Dukes (18-2), Field 3

Section II Ichabod Crane Riders (21-1) vs Section IV Windsor Black Knights (14-3), Field 4

Wellsville vs. Marlboro

Both teams wear black and orange, but Wellsville is more orange and black.

Both teams have junior pitchers who hit for power. And both teams can put up a lot of runs.

Here is where things get interesting. Wellsville lost one starter, Marley Adams, and lost last season in the Far West Regionals. With the experience back, the Lions have reached the Final Four.

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Marlboro reached the state semifinals and lost several seniors and only one player is back in the same starting position. They are back in the final four.

Marlboro pitcher Leah Gunsett, a junior, struck out 11 in a one-hitter that ended in six innings with the mercy rule in a 12-0 win in the sectional finals. She also had a home run.

In the Class B regionals, Gunsett threw another shutout and had a key 3-RBI double to lead Marlboro to a 5-0 win over Section VIII Seaford (Long Island).

That was the Class B regional final at Farmingdale State College.

Other hitters to watch for Marlboro include Emily Tarsio, who had a grand slam in the sectional finals, Kalista Birkenstock (40 stolen bases), Ella Leduc, Taylor Castellani, Madison Gibney and Kaitlyn Gordon.

For the Wellsville Lions, junior pitcher Makenzie Cowburn has had an outstanding season on the mound and hitting. The Lions roster is loaded with hitters:

1 Marissa Ordway (first base, pitcher, junior)

3 Averee Palmatier (outfield, sophomore)

4 Brynn Hallock (freshman, up from JV)

5 Teagan Burke (Freshman, up from JV)

7 Brazen Beckwith (catcher, junior)

8 Natalie Adams (second base, sophomore)

9 Makenzie Cowburn (pitcher, junior)

10 Lindsay Stuck (third base, sophomore)

11 Emma Dunnaway (shortstop, lone senior)

13 Hailey Lanphier (infield, outfield, DP, junior)

14 Makenna Dunbar (outfield, pitcher, first, sophomore)

18 Kaylie Fuller (outfield, junior)

20 Kennedy Perry (up from JV, freshman)

21 Ayla Faulkner (on varsity second part of year, up from JV, freshman)

23 Sawyer Burke (outfield, junior)

30 Morgan Mattison (up from JV, sophomore)

After the Lions defeated Section VI champion Iroquois, 15-5, to reach the Final Four, Wellsville coach Matt Burke said, “Our offense is one through nine, they can do a lot of damage. Today, Makenna (Dunbar) hit a couple of home runs. That’s not surprising, because that’s what she does. She drives in runs and makes a big difference. We worked our way out of some first inning jitters, and after that, we had our feet right under us and took it from there.”

Ichabod Crane, the defending state champions.

Ichabod Crane vs. Windsor

While all eyes are on defending state champion Ichabod Crane, Windsor is also well-known as a state championship program.

Windsor won state championships in 2004, 2008, 2011 and 2013. The Black Knights of Windsor had two impressive wins to reach the final four. First, they knocked off the state finalists from last year, Chenango Valley, 9-7 to win the Section IV title.

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In the Central New York Regionals, Windsor beat Section III champion, Chittenango, 14-2.It’s tough to prepare for Windsor as an offense as the team uses Danica Ball and Alexis Durdon to pitch.

Hitting for Windsor, in addition to Ball and Durdon, Ashlee Hagerman, like Wellsville’s Makenna Dunbar, had two home runs in the regionals and Anna Finn blasted a home run.

Ichabod Crane has won state titles in 2022 and in 2015 and 2018. The Riders have reached the state final four in 2015, 2016, 2018, 2019 and 2022.

Like Wellsville with Emma Dunaway, Ichabod Crane has a steady leader in senior shortstop Emma Scheitinger. On the mound, sophomore Kari Graziano will do the pitching.

As for hitting, junior Ava Heffner, Abbey Milazzo Gabriella Wendelken and Graziano have been solid hitting all season for Ichabod Crane coach Tracy Nytransky.

The Windsor softball team

Windsor coach Bill Waldron told WICZ Fox 40 television, “This would be the epitome … I think we’ve come kind of as a dark horse out of the back of the pack somewhat. Teams of the past have been fairly strong, have had a lot of skilled, experienced, and high-level types of players. This team’s really, really young, but yet very, very formidable, I think, in a way they’re gamers. They know what they want now. They’ve tasted it.”

First baseman Paige Smith told Fox 40 the team made a commitment in January.

“Back in January, when we started having open gyms we had about like three-to-five players showing up every open gym and we’re like, ‘we can’t field a team with this many people,'” Smith said. “And then we kind of got right to the beginning of the season and we were questioning if we’re going to have a team. We had about eight girls, we didn’t know if we were going to have ten or even enough to play. And then the first day of tryouts we ended up having ten and that’s just enough that we needed.”

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