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Cowburn heating up for Wellsville, wins 1-0 Senior Night duel and two shutouts, Palmatier, Dunbar blast home runs

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Cowburn outduels Schroeder’s DeValder, Palmatier launches solo homer to make big difference in Wellsville’s 1-0 Senior Night blank of Class AA heavyweight Lady Warriors at Tullar ; Cowburn does it again a day later and Dunbar homers

Photos and stories by CHRIS BROOKS, managing editor, wellsvillesports.com

WELLSVILLE — Imagine if you will, a chess table and along with it, two chairs. Centralized within the circle directly in the middle of Tullar Field.

Sitting on one side, Wellsville’s Makenzie Cowburn. On the other side, her opponent: Webster Schroeder’s Liana DeValder. From the beginning to the very end, the two pitching dynamos went to work plotting their every move in Sunday’s clash of the softball titans. One shutout inning after another, and constant strikeouts being handed out between the two, it was as dead of a heat as you could imagine.

With the contest cruising along at high speeds, there was little room for error and there was no time to waste.

Something had to give.

Both the Lady Warriors and the Lady Lions had their fair share of chances to apply pressure against one another, placing multiple runners on base along the way. But each time, the pitchers have evaded the threat. But in the bottom of the fifth inning, a chance to call checkmate.

Averee Palmatier delivered.

The Wellsville junior made lift-off as the team’s first hitter at the plate to start the bottom of the fifth inning after securing a blistering line drive in right field to set up a quick tenure of defense beforehand, taking a pitch for a ride to deep left field — a pitch that collected just enough air and enough wind in the sky to navigate its way out, serving as the ultimate difference maker to aid Cowburn in winning the pitcher’s chess match over DeValder and the Lady Warriors in a 1-0 Mother’s Day victory on Senior Night.

“We had a couple of hard hits before that. We were definitely timing the hits and getting them ready for when we needed it,” said Lady Lions co-coach Shelley Chaffee. “Averee’s hit was amazing, and she has really played well this year. I am so happy for her and she made a great catch in right field before she sent that ball out. She left off the next inning with that homer and that ended up being the difference. This is a game that we’ve been waiting for, and we were ready to go. The weather has not wanted us to play this game, but it was beautiful today. We had a great amount of support from the families of these girls and the fans in attendance.”

The Lady Lions (14-1), who are currently tied for the No. 1 seed in Class B with Bath-Haverling following the win, received and acknowledged a very tough challenge that was presented by Webster Schroeder — seeded No. 1 in Class AA, with numerous 1-2-3 stands of defense being exchanged by way of both DeValder and Cowburn, as the two teams combined to record just nine hits, with the hosts claiming a 5-4 advantage.

NY Land Quest congratulates all student athletes

The first of three enormous threats that the Lady Lions would face through the course of the battle, witnessed a runner work their way over to third base, beginning in the top of the third after an absolute strike to the right center field gap from Elizabeth Baglieri. Now standing more than within striking distance of the lead, Cowburn fired right back with a big strikeout to close out the inning and leave her on base.

Wellsville countered right away in the bottom half behind a walk and a stinging line drive to deep center field from Teegan Burke that nearly exited play, placing two runners on base with two outs and their backs up against the wall. But the Lady Warriors did not let them do anything with the threat, as DeValder came through the clutch to record a massive strikeout to close the frame.

The game-long chess match progressed on down the stretch until the bottom of the fifth inning, when Palmatier helped Cowburn’s cause with a solo blast that carried just enough to help provide a massive crack into the ice with the lead. Following the home run, Webster Schroeder would proceed to exit the go-ahead jam with three straight strikeouts handed out by DeValder — a sequence that would give the Lady Warriors one final head full of steam.

In the top of the seventh, they pushed all of their chips to the center of the table, with Leah Murray’s lead-off double sending the Lady Warriors dugout into a frenzy. After working her way to third base to fulfill the function as the game-tying run, Cowburn did not let up one bit, as she came right back and delivered the knockout punch — back-to-back strikeouts after a pair of lengthy at-bats at the plate from the visitors, sealing the deal on a monumental, high-pressure victory in front of their home crowd on an emotional evening.

“Makenzie is amazing with the way she can pitch,” Chaffee said. “She understands how good of a team Webster Schroeder can be. We know they can hit one through nine in the lineup, we took their bunting abilities away. There were three innings that they had runners on third base, and we stopped them all three times. It just seems like nothing is rattling her this year. We used the Mudville tournament originally as our gauge to see where this team stood. Beating a team like Nardin Academy was probably the top game at the time. This game tonight, to go out and take care of a team like Webster Schroeder, this is right at the top.”

Cowburn put the finishing touches on what was a four-hit shutout of the Class AA heavyweights, fanning 13 Lady Warriors and walking just one. On the counterattack, DeValder also struck out 13 and walked one while holding Wellsville to five hits.

With those hits, Cowburn, Sawyer Burke, Brazen Beckwith and Teegan Burke all chipped in with one each to couple alongside Palmatier’s massive game-deciding home run.

Prior to the contest between both juggernauts, the emotions surrounding Tullar Field were in an absolute whirlwind, as the Lady Lions paid homage to their four departing seniors — Cowburn, Beckwith, Sawyer Burke and Marissa Ordway, as they made their honorary jaunt around the infield to each base greeting their teammates with open arms and plenty of tears.

For Chaffee, her four seniors are the very definition of leaders.

“I’ve watched them play for the last couple of years as a group and they have all grown so much,” she said. “They all play so well together and they really know how to pick up the younger girls on this team. But the thing that stands out the most is their demeanor to remain calm, but confident. No matter what they’re doing, they’re going to be confident when they get up to bat, when they’re pitching or fielding, they have the belief that they can do it. I’ve never seen any of them get down, no matter what happens.”

Following the announcement of the starting lineups and the playing of the national anthem, another special ceremony was in store for the night. In attendance was the family of former Wellsville softball coach, the late Bud Merrell, who led the Lady Lions to their first ever Section V championship back in 1990. Merrell’s son Mike helped commence the festivities at Tullar Field by throwing out the ceremonial first pitch.

Chaffee spoke of Merrell’s impact with the softball program, during his time as coach and in the years following.

“The tribute we had for him to start the game was absolutely wonderful. I was so glad that so many of Bud’s family were able to come out and join us on this special day. Bud helped Frank Cady when he was coaching for quite a few years as well, leading this program to their first title. He was definitely one of those people where we absolutely put him in the list of coaches in Wellsville’s softball history. In the years coaching and after, he has been a big figure in this amazing softball community.”

The Lady Lions will officially close out their regular season tonight right back at Tullar Field with a 6 p.m. first pitch against another softball heavyweight, this one from below the border — Cowanesque Valley.

Webster Schroeder 000 000 0 – 0 4 0

Wellsville 000 010 X – 1 5 2

WS – Liana DeValder (LP) (CG, 13K, BB) and Sarah Ferruzza.

WLSV – Makenzie Cowburn (WP) (CG, 13K, BB) and Brazen Beckwith.

Wellsville 5, Cowanesque Valley 0

WELLSVILLE — Following an extraordinary Senior Night win over Webster Schroeder to wrap up the weekend, the Lady Lions of Wellsville now began to look for one final victory to close out their regular season on the strongest of notes.

Come Monday night, one final test entered into the fray before the hunt for Sectional glory begins — Pennsylvania powerhouse Cowanesque Valley.

There were similar predicaments that the Lady Lions encountered across their regular season finale that they also experienced during their victory against the Lady Warriors back on Senior Night Sunday. One of them in particular: Runners in scoring position.

Cowanesque Valley turned up the pressure as much as they could against the Lady Lions. But in the end, the same exact result was dispatched — Makenzie Cowburn remained unfazed.

The Wellsville senior phenom in the circle held her ground, as she tossed yet another colossal shutout to help her team end the regular season on a high note with a six-hit shutout, fanning 11 and walking just one, all while having one of the team’s biggest bats in the game along the way to help finish off a 5-0 blank of Cowanesque Valley at historic Tullar Field.

“It’s certainly nice to end things on a winning streak. We also haven’t lost at Tullar all season as well, so that was an added bonus. It was almost the same thing as yesterday, with a runner at third and they even had the bases loaded at one point. Makenzie came in and shut it down,” said Lady Lions co-coach Shelley Chaffee. “Her composure is amazing to help keep herself calm to get us out of these jams. They have an extremely good fielding team, and we hit the ball really well against them. Cowanesque Valley made some nice plays to keep us on our feet.”

To go with her back-to-back shutout performances, Cowburn also pitched in with a gargantuan bat to aid the offense in their outburst of Cowanesque Valley, as she broke the ice right in the first inning of play with the first two-run single of two in the game to put the Lady Lions (16-1) on the board first.

The momentum would remain in Wellsville’s favor, despite a scoreless exchange across the second, as the bats continued to come alive in the third when Makenna Dunbar made lift-off on a line drive homer to left center field that exited in a hurry, extending the advantage to a trio of runs against the visitors from below the border.

To ensure their lead remained glued together, the hosts in orange looked to Cowburn to deliver the goods one more time, as she drove in her third and fourth runs of the game on another single into the outfield to branch the advantage to five against Cowanesque Valley, permanently cementing the victory in the process.

Wellsville would total five runs off eight hits, with Cowburn’s 2-for-3 day leading the charge. Along with Dunbar’s solo homer, Natalie Adams also had a double to add into the mix.

The regular season is now over for the Lady Lions — one that saw them outscore the opponent, 159-20, as they continue to jockey for Class B’s No. 1 seed with Bath-Haverling in the final days. They now await Sectional seeding later this week.

Cowanesque Valley 000 000 0 – 0 6 0

Wellsville 201 020 X – 5 8 2

CV – Ruby Sherman (LP) (CG, BB) and Logan Hamilton.

WLSV – Makenzie Cowburn (WP) (CG, 11K, BB) and Lindsay Stuck.

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