(This is the Wellsville Sun’s in depth look at the four teams left in Class D vying for a 2023 New York State Championship this Friday and Saturday at the Moriches Athletic Complex in Long Island)
By JOHN ANDERSON
The New York State Softball Final Four seems to be the Deposit/Hancock Invitational.
In the past six years, Deposit or the newly merged Deposit/Hancock softball program has won states five of the last years.
This season in the playoffs, D/H has out-scored their opponents 68-4.
On their way to glory last season, the Deposit/Hancock Eagles downed some familiar Eagles from Friendship-Scio, 7-2 in the state semifinals.
Both teams are back, but this year, on opposite sides of the bracket. Friendship-Scio plays Poland at 1 p.m. today on Field 3 at the Moriches Athletic Complex in Islip, Long Island while Deposit-Hancock takes on the Salem Generals, also at 1 p.m., right behind the action on Field 4.
As teams arrived in Long Island last night, they hoped to practice on the fields they play on today. Because of the air quality index just over 100, the teams were forced to practice inside at a local high school and take batting practice. For Friendship-Scio and Deposit-Hancock, they have already played on the fields.
(NOTE: As of 5 a.m. today, the air quality index in Islip has dropped to 72 and should not be a factor today)
The Section IV twitter page pointed out Deposit has won six overall state titles, Deposit-Hancock one, Friendship/Scio, Poland and Salem have won zero. They mentioned the Friendship-Scio loss last year and said Poland lost to Edison, 3-0 in the 1991 title game and 18-0 in 1987 and 409 in 1986 to Afton.
Here is a look at the Final Four:
Section V Class D champion Scio-Friendship (20-3) vs Section III Champion Poland (16-4)
Field 3, 1 p.m.
Poland had not won a sectional title since 1991 so this is a special season for the Tornadoes.
Poland is led by senior pitcher Shelbi Hagues, who not only pitched a 7-0 shutout to reach the final four, but had three hits in the win.
Poland knocked off Edwards-Knox, the Section X champion to get to Long Island. Hagues struck out 10 and only two runners reached third all game.
Hitting wise, in addition to Hagues who will lead off, Poland has Sarah Zuchowski, Emma Tabor, Logan Cookinham, Maddison Haver and Emma Kraszewski. However, the bottom of the order scored six of the seven runs in the regional finals.
Poland coach Erin Meeker was a star pitcher for Poland in 2010.
Friendship-Scio coach Deb Warner was a three-sport star at Friendship as well, graduating before 2010.
Warner’s team has shown incredible improvement hitting 1 through 9 in the order and played solid defense. Here is a look at the roster:
#2 Logan Roberts, senior infielder 12
#3 Avery Lamberson, freshman infielder
#4 Morghyn Ross, freshman catcher (.510 AVG, .594 OBP, 20 1B, 5 2B, 4 3B, 21 RBI, 10 SB, 11 CS)
#5 Kadence Donohue, senior infielder (.352 AVG, .476 OBP, 11 1B, 4 2B, 3 3B, 1 HR, 11 RBI, 11 R)
#6 Emily Lamberson, freshman outfielder
#7 Claire Calhoun, senior infielder (.265 AVG, .396 OBP, 7 1B, 4 2B, 1 3B, 4 RBI, 15 R, 6 SB)
#8 Leanne Pierce, freshman outfielder
#10 Katherine Lamberson, senior outfielder (.286 AVG, .439 OBP, 14 1B, 1 2B, 1 HR, 5 RBI, 15 R, 7 SB)
#11 Kadence Sadler, eighth-grade outfielder
#12 Tayla Brenna, freshman infielder
#13 Neveah Ross, junior pitcher (.530 ERA, .087 OBA, 14 SHO, 2 Perfect Games, .580 AVG, .653 OBP, 21 1B, 5 2B, 4 3B, 7 HR, 23 RBI, 34 R, 20 SB).
#14 Nora Thompson, junior outfielder
#16 Jadyn Wonderling, freshman infielder
#19 Aryana Hale, senior outfielder
#20 Kiara Grover, senior infielder who also pitches (.255 AVG, .412 OBP, 12 1B, 2 2B, 1 HR)
“Hopefully, we have matured and learned from last year’s experience being down there,” Warner said. “We were out of sync last year, and everything had happened so fast. But they’re a much more focused group than they were before, now. We’ve always struggled with our short game, and there’s times where we still are. But they’re a much more focused group than they were before. We’ve always struggled with the short game, and we still are. But they practice so much on perfecting it. Now, they’re ready for the next level. We just have to take it one game at a time.”
On the mound, Nevaeh Ross tossed a no-hitter with 14 strikeouts and zero walks in the Far West Regionals.
“I can’t say enough. I really can’t,” Warner said. “She’s done it the whole season. Since she got here back in seventh grade, she has really matured and become that leader for this team. Her growth has been incredible on the mound. She’s the backbone for this team, and that catcher she has, Morghyn (Ross, her sister) is just as good. Nevaeh is also in her element getting better and better at the plate. The last few games, she’s managed to hit it over the fence.”
Scio-Friendship has outscored opponents 7-1 on the average this season and are on a 14-game win streak.
Neveah Ross has thrown 12 shutouts and given up two runs the last 14 games.
Section IV champion Deposit-Hancock (21-2) vs. Section II champion Salem (11-10)
Moriches Athletic Complex, 1 p.m.
Salem will have their hands full with the defending state champions.
Deposit-Hancock beat Southern Cayuga, 17-0 in the Section IV finals and then Eldred, 14-0 in the regionals.
Coach Dan Briggs of Deposit-Hancock told Fox 40, “It all starts with the girls. They start playing young here. They put the work in. We start playing in November and we keep going all the way through the summertime. So it really starts and ends with the girls. They’re the ones that commit. I’m just someone that opens a gym for them, they’re the ones that come and put the hard work in.”
The team is led by senior pitcher Kaitlyn Macumber. The team has several outstanding hitters including Sarah Gross and Amanda Ray.
The Salem Generals beat Argyle, 4-2 to win the Section II softball title. They came into the game at 9-10. They then beat Bolton-Schroon Lake, also 4-2 in the regional finals.
Salem pitcher Sophia Keays told the Press-Republican, “It feels so great because we’ve never been able to do that before, in like history at Salem at all. I know these girls will be able to do what we need to do up at states, and whether we win or lose, it’s just the experience of getting to go to Long Island and getting to play softball there.”
Taylor Cary, Keays, Hannah Gongola, Kayla McCauliffe, Sierra Phillips and Jenna McCauliffe are some of the top hitters for Salem coach Bridget Dusha.
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