We’ve reached the final days of the 2019 regular season for New York’s high school baseball and softball teams. Believe it or not, the postseason will be in full swing by the end of the week.
But before the sectional playoffs begin, here’s a look at some of the spring’s most successful squads, as well as highlights of what’s ahead:
STATE RANKINGS: Eight Big 30 squads appeared in the most recent polls by the New York State Sportswriters Association — only one from Cattaraugus County. Teams shouldn’t get too caught up in the rankings, though. Just last year, the Olean softball team went from unranked in the final week of the regular season to being a state final four participant. Still, a spot in the state polls is nice recognition and worthy of a mention here.
- Wellsville baseball, No. 8 Class B: First-year Lions coach Marc Agnello certainly had big shoes to fill, replacing Dennie Miles, who won a Section 5 record 718 games over 42 seasons. But Wellsville has fared well under its new skipper, currently 9-6 despite dropping three games last week to state-ranked teams (Cuba-Rushford, Livonia and Arkport/Canaseraga).
- Cuba-Rushford baseball, No. 4 Class C: The Rebels are one of the area’s best turnaround stories. After enduring four straight losing seasons without a playoff win, Steve Yatzkanic’s club is 12-2 and a sectional title contender once again.
- Bolivar-Richburg baseball, No. 15 Class C: Dustin Allen’s Wolverines always seem to be among the Big 30’s elite. Vying for the program’s third Section 5 championship in four years, B-R is 13-4 and has an interesting non-league matchup today at Houghton College against Livonia, ranked No. 2 among Class B schools.
- Franklinville baseball, No. 8 Class D: Last week wasn’t what the Panthers (8-5) had hoped for. With three losses, they missed out on the CCAA II East title. But led by first-year coach Reed Mitrowski, Franklinville is the only Section 6 squad ranked in Class D, and this could be the year the Panthers contend for their first sectional title since 1975.
- Wellsville softball, No. 7 Class B: No Big 30 team has been as dominant as the Lions, who are scoring 12 runs per game on average. In a 17-1 regular season, Wellsville’s only defeat was during its spring break trip to Virginia. Matt Burke’s team has a multitude of weapons, and Section 5’s playoff field is dangerously deep, with four other state-ranked Class B squads (Wayland-Cohocton, Livonia, Waterloo and Geneva).
- Genesee Valley softball, No. 6 Class D: Thanks to the superb pitching of senior Emily Daciw, Lisa Clark-Hapeman’s Jaguars are 14-1 and in pursuit of their first sectional title. They could be the favorites, although Section 5 has a whopping seven Class D teams state-ranked, including a pair of GV’s county rivals.
- Fillmore softball, No. 9 Class D: The Eagles (13-6) have been snakebitten recently, losing four straight one-run games. But Jon Beardsley’s team has nearly everyone back after reaching the Class D1 final last year, including St. Bonaventure commit Macy Miller in the circle, and could make another run.
- Whitesville softball, No. 25 Class D: In coach Jake Domes’ debut campaign, the Blue Jays (10-7) have had a solid season playing a tough Allegany County Division I circuit.
LEAGUE CHAMPS: Congratulations are in order for the following Big 30 teams:
- Belfast baseball: Allegany County Division II
- Olean baseball: CCAA I East (shared with Gowanda)
- Andover softball: Allegany County Division II
- Olean softball: CCAA I East
WHAT TO WATCH: A few notable matchups to end the regular season, two of which will determine league champions:
- Cuba-Rushford at Allegany-Limestone baseball, today: In a non-league contest, C-R will try to avenge one of its two losses. A-L took the first meeting, 8-3, in the Bolivar-Richburg Tournament.
- Warren at Olean baseball, today: The Huskies (11-6) could use a win after losing three straight and four of their last five. The Class AAAA Dragons (13-6) from Pennsylvania’s District 10 are a nice playoff tune-up.
- Whitesville at Genesee Valley softball, today: The Jaguars, having already secured at least a share of the Allegany County Division I championship for the first time since 2004, will try to win the title outright. A GV loss could mean the Jaguars are co-champions with red-hot Bolivar-Richburg, which has won eight of its last nine and dealt GV its only defeat to date.
- Cuba-Rushford at Bolivar-Richburg baseball, Tuesday: It’s winner take all for the Allegany County Division I title. That scenario was ensured after C-R downed B-R 3-2 Thursday but stumbled against Genesee Valley the following day. The Rebels and Wolverines are both 6-1 in league play heading into their showdown on B-R’s turf. The first meeting was a pitchers’ duel between C-R’s Dan Emerson and B-R’s Logan Bess.
SEEDING MEETINGS: Playoff brackets will be released the following days:
- Today: Section 6 softball
- Tuesday: Section 5 softball
- Wednesday: Section 6 baseball
- Friday: Section 5 baseball
(Shawn Campbell, a Times Herald sports writer, can be reached at email@example.com)