Seward breaks into Varsity845 top 10 rankings

Score one for the small schools. S.S. Seward has broken into the Varsity845 softball top 10 softball rankings.

Seward, a Class C school, defeated defending Section 9 Class AA champion Pine Bush 8-7 on Friday. The Spartans check in at No. 10 and deserve even more credit for the loaded schedule it will play this season, which includes several Class AA teams.

That’s almost unheard of for a small school softball team. Keep in mind, Seward will face stiff competition in its own OCIAA division this fall, V, from rival Chester. Chester is the defending Section 9 Class C champion.

Happy Easter!

1. Kingston (4-2): Two losses came last weekend at loaded Shenendehowa tournament. So far, the Tigers have feasted on local competition.

2. Middletown (6-1): Junior shortstop Brianna Joyner breaking out for the Middies, hitting .407 with (11-for-27) with five doubles and seven RBI.

3. Pine Bush (3-2): In the shocker of the season, Pine Bush, the defending Class AA champs, lost to Class C outfit, S.S. Seward, 8-7 on Friday. I still think Pine Bush is really good.

4. Warwick (4-1): Ciarra DiGuilio, only a sophomore, handling No. 1 pitcher job well. Warwick has won its four games by a combined seven runs.

5. Roosevelt (5-1): Allie Pritchard continues to tear it. She’s hitting .520 (13-for-25) with 16 RBI and is 4-0 with a 1.33 ERA for the Dutchess County Class AA school.

6. Valley Central (1-2):
Challenging week for the Vikings with Newburgh on Monday, Kingston on Wednesday and Middletown on Friday.

7. Marlboro (4-1): The Class B state runner-ups moved up to Class A this season. Right now, early on, Marlboro looks like the class of Class A. Pitcher Aubrey Bianco, the 2013 V845 Player of the Year, is hitting .500.


8. Minisink Valley (2-2):
Congratulations to Minisink Valley senior shortstop MacKenzie Wise who will play at Division II Dominican College on a partial athletic scholarship. Wise is hitting .411 this season.

9. Newburgh (2-3): And you thought VC had a tough week? Newburgh might as well be in the American League Central with Valley Central, Warwick, John Jay-East Fishkill and Kingston this week.

10. S.S. Seward (2-2): We didn’t need Seward to beat Pine Bush to prove to us that it’s legit. Seward gets a shot at two more Class AA teams this week – Minisink Valley and Warwick.

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VIDEO: Minisink Valley baseball; Sec. 9 news and notes

It was a great story last season, as Minisink Valley’s baseball team went from the No. 7 seed in a 7-team field to Section 9 Class AA champion.

But that Warriors team had plenty of talent, with seven of the nine members of the class of 2013 currently playing in college, including a couple of Division I guys in Josh Walker and Bobby Maxwell.

So what has Minisink Valley done as an encore?

Exceed expectations.

Minisink Valley (7-1) owns a OCIAA Division II series win over Valley Central. On Friday afternoon, the Warriors topped previously unbeaten Delaware Valley (Pa.), 4-3, in an interesting game.

Junior catcher Tyler Mayo, relegated to backup duty as a sophomore, had the go-ahead hit with two out in the bottom of the sixth. Senior shortstop and pitcher Bryan Johnsen, who played mostly in a DH/utility role as a junior, came on to record the final four outs and get the win in relief.

That’s how Minisink Valley has done it so far this year, the Warriors have gotten big contributions from guys who didn’t necessarily gain a whole lot of experience last season.

There is still plenty of season left to go. Minisink Valley will have a couple of tough series left against Warwick and an up-and-coming Washingtonville team, as well as some key non-league games. It will be fun to see if Minisink Valley’s younger players – and the seniors in new roles, like Johnsen – can keep it going over the next five or six weeks.

For more, check out the video above and a story in Sunday’s Times Herald-Record.

A quick look back at the big things this past week in Section 9 baseball…

  • Newburgh Free Academy’s Chris Introcaso threw his second no-hitter in as many starts, shutting down Washington (W.Va.) in the Mingo Bay Classic in Myrtle Beach, S.C. For more on his story, follow this link.
  • In that story, had mentioned Chester’s Ryan Cabrera as well. Cabrera tossed three no-hitters last year, leaving him one shy of the state record

    Bob Hansen. Newburgh News photo from 1947.

    of four in a career…or so I thought. As soon as Introcaso’s story was published, I heard from the family of Bullet Bob Hansen, who had thrown seven no-hitters for Monroe and Central Valley High Schools between 1945 and 1947. I spoke with Hansen on the phone this week, asking him about his high school career, his 5-year stint in the minor leagues and his thoughts on the game of baseball today. Hansen, 85, still lives locally in New Windsor. We’ve had to bounce this story around because of a space crunch at the paper the last few days, but look for it in Monday’s paper…or sometime next week. It will be interesting to see if the state will change its record book to reflect Hansen’s accomplishments. His family was kind enough to pass along a ton of old clippings from the Newburgh News, which verify their claims.

  • Finally, how about this grueling stretch for the Cornwall club? The Green Dragons won a pair of games in the annual Beacon Spring Bash tournament on Monday, including an epic 8-inning win over John Jay-East Fishkill on Monday that featured Matt Smith throwing out a runner at the plate from left field to preserve a tie game in the top of the eighth. Cornwall was off on Tuesday with the bad weather. On Wednesday, they played the late game at Dutchess Stadium, an 8 p.m. start, falling to Beacon 4-0 in the title game. Thursday, Cornwall played Pine Bush and Kingston on the road in a two-town doubleheader as part of the Ed Mills Tiger Tournament. Friday was an off day, but the Green Dragons were back at it on Saturday in the Ed Mills tourney up at Gruner Field. Sounds like a fun spring break week to me.
Now, let’s take a look at what’s on the schedule in the upcoming week:

Monday

  • Some key 3-game series kick off: Monroe-Woodbury & Middletown; Kingston & Pine Bush and Washingtonville & Valley Central. There are also some good MHAL games on the slate, including Wallkill at New Paltz and Coleman Catholic at Onteora.

Tuesday

  • Newburgh Free Academy plays at Warwick at 4 p.m. I would bet Introcaso gets the start here, which would certainly put his no-hit streak in jeopardy. Could be a Section 9 postseason preview, however. Cornwall plays at Minisink Valley in another very interesting crossover game. Can Cornwall get back on track after a busy week?

Wednesday

  • It’s a MHAL-heavy day here, with Marlboro at Saugerties being the highlight. Can the Dukes bounce back after a 10-0 loss to Valley Central on Saturday?

Thursday

  • O’Neill plays at Sullivan West in the second game of a 3-game set, which wraps on Friday. The Raiders have been posting some gaudy numbers of late, despite a really tough non-league schedule to start the year. Will O’Neill win another Division IV title in 2014?

Friday

  • A very light schedule here, but Wallkill at Marlboro should be a great game. Could this be a Class A playoff preview? I figure these teams, plus New Paltz and Cornwall, will be the top four seeds in the bracket this season.

Saturday

  • Pine Plains brings in Red Hook, Rhinebeck and Rondout Valley for its annual tournament. Semifinal games start at 11 a.m. with the championship and consolation rounds scheduled for 2 p.m.
I’ll be posting scores and links throughout the season on Twitter. Check out my feed here: @THR_Montgomery.

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Alumni update: VC grad Taylor Concklin has monster day for SUNY Orange

Former star Valley Central Taylor Concklin had to be talked into playing for SUNY Orange this season by coach Shana Madura.

Concklin, a two-time Varsity845 first-team outfielder, transferred from Division II Mercy College to Orange for personal reasons and really thought she wouldn’t take the field again.

“I’m glad I chose to play,” Concklin said.

Especially after the performance she put up on Thursday. Concklin went 7-for-8 with 10 RBI, a pair of three-run homers and a no-hitter as Orange swept SUNY Westchester in a Mid-Hudson Conference doubleheader in Middletown by scores of 10-0 and 11-0. She went 4-for-5 with three RBI in the first game.

In the second game, Concklin struck out five in her no-hit effort, and went 3-for-3 at the plate with two three-run homers and seven RBI.

“It’s awesome, playing softball really makes the stresses go away, the papers and all that stuff,” Concklin said. “I can just go out there and play my heart out. It clears my head. It’s a great feeling, but for me, I don’t care if I go 0-for-4 or 4-for-4. As long as we win.”

Concklin said she is studying criminal justice at Orange and will graduate with an associate’s degree in the fall. She plans on pursuing a job in law enforcement.

“It’s been great to go out there and prove myself again,” Concklin said. “I had to get some of the rust off, but I still love the game, and I think I’m better off that I came home. I defintely made the right decision.”

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Hot-hitting Minisink Valley shortstop MacKenzie Wise to play at Dominican

Minisink Valley coach Bruce Guyette uses a little bit of psychology when talking to his players about their approach in the batter’s box.

“Coach Guyette always tells us to go in with an empty mind and a full bat,” Minisink Valley senior shortstop MacKenzie Wise.

Wise’s bat has been more than full this season. It’s been loaded: She’s hitting .411 (7-for-17), including a 2-for-3 performance in a 2-1 win over Newburgh on Thursday. Batting average aside, Wise has something else to be excited about: She has verbally committed to play at Division II Dominican College in Rockland County next year on a partial athletic scholarship.

“It’s definitely a blessing,” said Wise, a three-year starter for Minisink Valley. “It’s exciting to be one of those kids who get to play in college. It’s a great opportunity.”

Wise will sign her national letter of intent next week at Minisink Valley. Dominican is 13-20 this year, including 11-8 in the Central Atlantic Collegiate Conference. Wise said she will play somewhere in the infield for Dominican.

As for her hot start, Wise said: “It’s just confidence. I approach every at-bat thinking about past successes. You don’t want to go in there and overthink anything.”

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Blaine to receive national wrestling honor

Longtime Cornwall coach Don Blaine will be inducted into the National Wrestling Hall of Fame in September.

Blaine, who finished his 30th year as Cornwall head coach this season, ranks 13th in New York state history with 449 wins, a Section 9 record. He was inducted into the New York State Wrestling Hall of Fame in 2011. Blaine has coached 27 Section 9 champions including Quinn Zsido and Erik Jessell, who both placed sixth in the state this season.

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Boys’ lacrosse state rankings, April 15

It’s been a common theme in recent seasons, but Section 9 teams were shut out of the first New York State Sportswriters Association boys’ lacrosse rankings of the 2014 season.

For the full list, click here.

The NYSSWA does list a bunch of honorable mention teams in each class, so I’ll include those along with the top three here.

Monroe-Woodbury's Tommy Friedman during a game against Kingston on Wednesday, April 9, 2014 in Central Valley. (Photo By: LEE FERRIS / For the Times Herald-Record)

Class A

1. Chaminade (CHSAA, 5-0)

2. Smithtown West (Section 11, 8-0)

3. Pittsford (Section 5, 5-0)

HM: Middletown, Monroe-Woodbury, Valley Central and Warwick.

Class B

1. Yorktown (Section 1, 6-1)

2. Garden City (Section 8, 6-1)

3. Huntington (Section 11, 5-0)

Class C

1. Cazenovia (Section 3, 6-0)

2. Penn Yan (Section 5, 4-0)

3. Cold Spring Harbor (Section 8, 5-1)

HM: Millbrook, Rondout Valley.

I should add that there are also some interesting rankings over at Laxpower.com. These rankings take strength of schedule into account. Click here for the New York rankings, broken down by section and class.

It’s easy to see why Section 9 lags behind the rest of the state in these rankings. There are a bunch of Section 9 teams at the bottom of each ranking by class, which drags down the strength of schedule of the whole section in the process. In Class A, five of the bottom eight teams, including the four lowest-ranked teams, all come from Section 9. Four of the bottom five teams in Class B are from Section 9. In Class C, of 116 teams, four of the bottom five are from Section 9.

I’ll have a story on boys’ lacrosse in the paper each Tuesday throughout the spring season. This week’s focused on the Monroe-Woodbury team and its use of players who grew up playing other sports. Check out that story here.

 

The first baseball state rankings of the season should be released in the middle of next week.

I’ll also be posting scores as they come in each night. To find those, follow my Twitter feed here.

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PB lineman McKane to get shot as walk-on at Sacred Heart

Whenever Pine Bush football coach Jim Wright needed a big rushing yard this fall, he usually ran behind senior tackle Rory McKane.

And McKane usually delivered with a big block, which led to a first down for one of Pine Bush’s talented running backs. McKane helped the Bushmen rush for over 3,500 yards and will bring his big-blocking talents to Sacred Heart University in Connecticut as a preferred walk-on in the fall.

Sacred Heart is a Football Championship Subdivision (formerly Division I-AA) school.

“I loved it, I always wanted them to run the ball behind me,” said McKane, who is 6-foot-3, 290 pounds. “I feel very confident that I will do well at Sacred Heart. I earned it at Pine Bush and I will earn it there.”

McKane also had interest as a walk-on from Fordham and the University of Maryland, he said. According to McKane, he could move to center at Sacred Heart.

“I felt like Rory was one of the best linemen in the league for us,” Wright said. “He worked real hard in the offseason to get better and it showed. He will do well for himself at Sacred Heart.”

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Monroe-Woodbury lacrosse draws from different sports

I stopped by Monroe-Woodbury boys’ lacrosse practice on Tuesday to catch up with some of the players. Check out the video above – but it is a little windy. I tried to edit out the parts that were too hard to hear.

Monroe-Woodbury beat Warwick in its season-opener, the Crusaders’ first win over the Wildcats since 2008.

What really caught my attention when talking to the players was the different backgrounds they all came from. Some had got their start in baseball, others football and some in ice hockey. Yet they’ve all managed to merge together on the lacrosse team and find ways to maximize each other’s strengths.

Look for the full story in Tuesday’s Times Herald-Record and on www.varsity845.com.

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Check out the spring’s first edition of the V845 rankings

1. Kingston (3-0): Has been nothing short of dominant early on with pitcher Ashley Cruise firing, of course, missiles.
2. Pine Bush (3-0): Never a dull moment with Pine Bush as the defending Class AA champs earned wild wins over Valley Central and Newburgh last week.
3. Warwick (4-1): Look out for Warwick. The Wildcats have won four in a row since losing to Kingston to open the year.
4. Middletown (4-1): Sophomore ace Allison Marcano has 43 strikeouts in 21.2 innings this season.
5. Roosevelt (4-1): Ace pitcher Allison Pritchard can also handle the aluminum, smacking a homer in three straight games.
6. Valley Central (1-2): Lost two games last week. When is the last time that happened? But don’t count Valley Central out.
7. Marlboro (3-1): Big game for Marlboro at 11 a.m. on Monday against rival Highland.
8. Minisink Valley (1-2): Mackenzie Wise wielding a hot bat for Minisink Valley, which flashed its potential with a win over Valley Central last week.
9. Newburgh (2-2): Didn’t need Newburgh to push Pine Bush to extra innings, before losing, to prove that the Goldbacks are not to be overlooked.
10. Cornwall (2-1): Talk about a pretty tough two step. Cornwall plays Pine Bush on Wednesday and Middletown on Thursday.

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A conversation with the Warwick baseball battery

I stopped by Warwick baseball practice this week to catch up with a couple of the Wildcats’ experienced pitchers, Peter Moore and D.J. Mendenhall. I also spoke with junior catcher Trevor Pinkham, looking to get a little insight into what makes those pitchers so good.

Moore will pitch at Division I Lehigh next year. Mendenhall heads to a very good DIII program at St. John Fisher.

Warwick will have a deep pitching staff this year. Junior John Santana, who also plays shortstop, likes to mix in a knuckleball now and again. Sophomore southpaw Chris Morgese threw a one-hitter with 14 strikeouts today at Goshen.

So check out the video above for a bit of info on how and why the Warwick pitchers developed the pitches they throw. The Wildcats will certainly be a team to watch this year, especially with a tough Division II schedule and the three-game series against Valley Central and Minisink Valley. For the full story, check out Sunday’s Times Herald-Record and www.varsity845.com.

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