By Rob Tucker
Four area teams - two baseball, two softball - now find themselves just two wins shy of capturing a New York State Public High School Athletic Association state title.
Frewsburg’s McKenzie Cass is one of eight seniors who will be making their third straight trip to the New York State Public High School Athletic Association Class C softball final four in Queensbury this weekend. See additional photos at cu.post-journal.com.
P-J file photo
by Scott Kindberg
Here's a quick look at how, on the softball side, Pine Valley and Frewsburg, and, on the baseball side, Pine Valley and Fredonia, got to where they are now and who it is that stands in their way of that ultimate goal.
Frewsburg reached the state final four for the third straight time this past weekend when they made easy work of then-top-ranked and unbeaten Keshequa, 8-1, in the Far West Regional at Olean Middle School.
See NYSPHSAA, Page B2
In vintage fashion, the Bears (18-5), got solid pitching from senior Sam Mott - she hurled seven innings of six-hit ball - and timely hitting from players like Emily Hair (two-run home run) and McKenzie Cass (two hits, two runs).
The Bears, who in each of the past two seasons have been eliminated from the state tournament in the first round, will have to get by Pierson/Bridgehampton of Section 11 if they hope to make a first-ever state finals appearance.
Pierson/Bridgehampton (14-7) is currently ranked No. 11 in the state for Class C by the New York State Sportswriters Association (Frewsburg is No. 9), and earned a second second straight trip to the state tournament when it defeated Haldane in lopsided fashion, 24-7.
Pitcher Sam Duchemin went 4-for-5 with a triple and two doubles while teammate Kasey Gilbride had four hits and eight RBIs.
Last year the Lady Whalers fell to eventual state champion Greenwich of Section 2.
Frewsburg and Pierson/Bridgehampton square off on Saturday at 9 a.m., on Morse Field 1 at the Adirondack Sports Complex in Queensbury.
If the experienced Bears can clinch the victory, they would take on the Sandy Creek-Greenwich winner at the ASC Field No. 2 at 2 p.m.
Pine Valley, which captured its first Section 6 Class D title since 2005 with a 4-3 extra-inning victory over Forestville, continued its quest for a state title last Saturday after clinching a slim, 2-1 victory in the Far West Regional over Andover.
Freshman Jessica Wilcox, who has been crucial both in the circle and at the plate during the Lady Panthers' run, delivered an RBI double in the sixth inning to put her squad ahead for good and guarantee it a spot in this weekend's state final four at Queensbury.
Pine Valley, ranked No. 8 in the state, has a difficult opening contest - it will face top-seeded, and undefeated, Fort Ann (Section 2), a squad ranked No. 2 in the state behind its perfect 23-0 record.
That game is slated to begin at 11 a.m., on Morse Field 1.
Fort Ann, led by sophomore pitcher Molly Bailey, defeated regional foe Crown Point, 2-0, to reach the final four for the second consecutive season.
Bailey earned the victory by carrying a no-hitter into the fifth inning, and in the end surrendered just three hits and fanned five on 71 pitches.
Should Pine Valley pull off yet another upset, it would battle the Hamilton (Section 3)-Afton (Section 4) winner on ASC Field No. 2 at 4:30 p.m.
Afton is the state's top-ranked team at 21-1.
Trent Thompson pitched the Fredonia Hillbillies into the state semifinals for the first time since 2009 on Tuesday, hurling a three-hit shutout with seven strikeouts in a 2-0 victory over Wayland-Cohocton.
The victory avenged last year's Far West Regional defeat to Wayland-Cohocton, 8-7.
The state's second-ranked team for Class B, Fredonia now has a 1 p.m., date on the diamond at Sylvester Field in Binghamtom with Section 10's Ogdensburg.
Ogdensburg toppled Schalmont, 3-1, in its regional game.
If the pitching tandem of Thompson and Cam Voss, who hasn't lost a game in which he's started in two seasons, and the team's defense, which has been a strength all season, is enough to get the Hillbillies past Ogdensburg, then they will face the other semifinal winner (either Wheatley of Section 8 or Clinton of Section 3) at 4 p.m., on the same field.
Much like their softball counterparts, the Pine Valley baseball team finds itself matched up with an exceedingly difficult foe in their opening game of the state semifinals.
And, like the Lady Panthers, long odds haven't mattered to this team yet.
Pine Valley, No. 9 in the state and looking to win a state title for the first time since 2007, will meet top-ranked Fort Ann (Section 2) at Conlon Field at 1 p.m.
Fort Ann had arguably the easiest road to the state final four, connecting for 14 hits on the way to a 20-0 drubbing of Section 10's Heuvelton in the regional.
When it was all said and done, starting pitcher George Lehoisky had thrown four innings of two-hit ball to improve his record this season to 9-0 and, at the plate, had gone 5-for-5 with 5 RBIs and five runs scored.
Fort Ann is making its third trip to the state tournament in four years, and won it all in 2010.
Pine Valley, meanwhile, is making its second straight trip to states after edging Lydonville, 3-2, in the Far West Regional.
The Panthers, which have won the Section 6 Class D title in each of the past four seasons, were led by Tyler Swanson, who surrendered two runs on five hits and five walks with seven strikeouts.
The state final is scheduled for 4 p.m.