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By Lacey Gardner

Wellsville softball wins 4th straight Section V title, Cowburn tosses 1-hitter


By CHRIS BROOKS, managing editor, Wellsville

CANANDAIGUA — While the baseball team was further north contending for their piece of glory at Innovative Field, a bit further off to the southeast of Rochester at Finger Lakes Community College, were the Lady Lions of Wellsville. Across the entire Class B bracket as the No. 2 seeds, the defending three-peat champions showed no signs of slowing down. 

With wins against Marcus Whitman, Wayland-Cohocton and Midlakes now in the wagon, they wanted more. They wanted all of it, even if it took another battle with No. 1 Bath-Haverling to do it again. They would get their wish come Saturday morning, as the Lady Lions and Lady Rams came together for yet another fight to the finish.

But there was a missing link the first time around that the Lady Lions didn’t have when they walked off against the top seeds last year — Makenna Dunbar, who missed the game due to illness. Now, the Wellsville junior was back in full force, in the midst of playing some of her best softball of the season. 

That, coupled alongside another remarkably dominant performance from Makenzie Cowburn in the circle, do you think Wellsville would be denied?

The answer, quite simply, is no. 

After three straight shutout innings between the two juggernauts, the Lady Lions found an opening to exploit against Bath-Haverling. Not one, but two in the middle frames, with Dunbar’s fiery bat helping guide the offense’s path forward, while Cowburn kept the Lady Rams absolutely frozen at the plate with a powerful one-hit shutout. Two ingredients that provided a fourth straight Section V championship for the program, as they weaved their way past the top seeds with a 4-0 shutout.

“Four straight championships for all four of our seniors. With the baseball team winning today too, this is an exciting time,” said Lady Lions co-coach Shelley Chaffee. “They were concerned about not being at the game to cheer the boys on, but at the same time, they were cheering for them here. Makenzie was amazing today, she gave up her lone hit right in the beginning, but she shut Bath down right after that. She has really brought this team on her back against quality opponents. Those have been some of the toughest games this year, and we had some amazing defensive plays behind her too. Rod Perry really helps get the girls ready and he called a great game for Makenzie, so my kudos go to him.”

Chaffee added, “Makenna didn’t play in the last game against Bath, but she really came through for us today. She’s played some of the best softball of her season. We weren’t really timing her (Witherell) at first, because she had some great movement on the ball. But we started to do some small ball and then the doors started to open up. We really were hitting enough to get around the bases and score runs, but the defense was stellar. The girls were really pumped.”

It was another tough battle right from the start for the Lady Lions (20-1), as they had to overcome a dominant start from the Lady Rams on defense behind three straight 1-2-3 innings. In the bottom half, the top seeds were faced with a similar situation with Cowburn, as they were also kept at bay with three quick innings — the first frame seeing four hitters reach the plate, and the lead-off, Makayla Smith, garnering what would be the team’s only hit in the game.

From that point on, it was Cowburn’s game to control, as she went 1-2-3 the rest of the game, compiling eight strikeouts and a walk to complete a masterful performance from within the circle.

As far as the offense, that’s where Makenna Dunbar came into play starting in the top of the fourth, when the Lady Lions finally managed to break through with the help of a slap bunt into the outfield from Sawyer Burke, who scored later on a pulverized double to the outfield by Dunbar to break the ice. 

A second run would come in later on in the midst of one of three errors by the Lady Rams defense. 

The momentum continued into the fifth where two more massive pieces of insurance were collected — both by Dunbar’s one swing of the bat, as she drove in both runs on a second double back to the outfield after the Lady Lions loaded the bases for her with three consecutive bunts. 

The Lady Lions would then cease all offense after that after Bath-Haverling recorded eight straight defensive outs to work their way off following each frame. But with Cowburn maintaining her dominance and composure on the mound, the four-run lead would suffice in the end, as the celebration of the program’s fourth consecutive title was officially on at the home of the Lakers.

Wellsville finished the game with four runs off their seven hits, with Dunbar leading the charge behind her 2-for-3 outing with her two doubles and three RBI. Sawyer Burke and Teegan Burke each finished with two hits, while Marissa Ordway had one.

Up next is the Class B Far West Regional at the place they won it all last year — Webster Schroeder, as they now prepare to face either Section VI rep Fredonia, who they were scheduled to play early on this year, but never did due to weather, or Wilson in a 10 a.m. first pitch next Saturday morning.

Wellsville 000 220 0 – 4 7 0 

Bath-Haverling 000 000 0 – 0 1 3

WLSV – Makenzie Cowburn (WP) (CG, 8K, BB) and Brazen Beckwith.

B-H – Kaili Witherell (LP) (CG, 7K) and Caydence Spears.

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