Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Oneida softball has memorable Morabito Tournament

Dispatch Sports Editor
Having a front row seat at sporting events has its advantages, especially when it's a big game. The ones that usually stand out the most are championships. A few years ago I was lucky enough to witness Hamilton's record setting comeback in the boys soccer state final then soon after to see Sage Hurta's stunning comeback to win the state cross country title for Hamilton.
Oneida's softball team poses for a photo after its 2nd place finish
And the past three years I've been fortunate to watch Oneida boys win the state pentathlon title with a different athlete each year. The list goes on, and this past weekend another event moved into my top 20, but not because a team won a title. No, Oneida's softball team finished second at the James "Ace" Morabito Memorial Invitational and that feat was, perhaps, the finest in the program's history.
The Morabito has been around for 31 years and, incredibly, each year for the past few decades one of the squads in the 16-team field has gone on to win a state title. This past weekend, 12 Class AA teams, three Class B and Oneida - the lone Class A entrant - battled for two days. More than half the field entered was state ranked and the host school, Windsor from Section IV, was the defending state champion in Class B. All the teams played two games Saturday and two more Sunday.
Oneida, state-ranked but toward the bottom in Class A before the weekend began, was not picked to fare overly well as its bracket was tough.
Well, Oneida defied the odds and won its first two games. First up was Chenango Forks and an early homer gave the Section IV team a lead. Oneida rallied to tie the game as Jenna Didio had the key extra-base hit. Coach Mike Curro's team then beat the Class B foe 4-2 in eight innings to earn a berth in the quarterfinals against Class AA North Rockland.
Things did not go well for Oneida until the last inning. Down 5-2, Curro's kids rallied to win 6-5. While Didio and senior pitcher Maria Rocco led the way as usual, the rest of the lineup contributed consistently.
The next foe, Windsor needed no such drama in its first two games. The Black Knights beat both foes via the mercy rule and it appeared Sunday's noon semifinal might be a mismatch.
It was, but not the way most anyone would have thought. No, Oneida scored early and often, played almost perfect defense and Windsor committed many errors. Down 6-0, the hosts scored twice and seemed ready to break out against Rocco in the middle innings. But Oneida answered immediately with two runs then scored three times late in the game to beat Windsor 11-3 via the mercy rule.
The way Oneida won its semi was the same way it won the first two games. Everyone did something and no one appeared intimidated. Katie Buda did her job leading off, Didio and Rocco hit for power despite their small stature, Lasalle, Casey Woodcock, Jaclyn Cavanagh and, well, all the upperclassmen hit, ran, threw and caught well. And then there was Lexi Skibitski, the eighth grader in the heart of the lineup and playing second base who seemed as unflappable as her older peers. She, too, hit well and played the field effectively.
They all continued to do so in the final against Class AA Corning. But the bigger, more athletic Hawks scored a run early and added another later for a 2-0 lead and C.W. Post-bound pitcher Quincy Lewis shut down every batter to preserve the championship at Mudville.
It did not seem to affect Oneida, now 14-2-1 and state-ranked No. 9). The team accepted its runner-up award with heads held high.
"Oneida," tournament founder Bill Shaw said during and after the tourney, "was the surprise team of the tournament."
Oneida, like every other softball team, has one player at every position on the field, and that adds up to nine. When you have uncanny chemistry to go along with great coaching, dedication and athleticism like Oneida does, it seems to add up to a perfect 10. And those who have watched Curro's team all spring should know that comes as no surprise.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

VVS students named scholar athletes

Here are VVS' scholar athletes for the spring sports season:
Softball - Autumn Chapman, Erin Confer, Kayla Conte, Alexia Cooper, Celeste Coy, Jenna Dunne, Jolene Durant, Sam Kogut, Taylor Ligoci, Ashley Palmer, Rebecca Przybylski, Allie Szczerba and Tasha Wilson.

Boys Tennis - Christopher DeNova, Dylan Duchene, Nicholas Fletcher, Andrew Kane, Matt McCall, Ben McEwen, James Neverette, Travis Regner, Devin Vallee, Paul Ziarko.

Boys Golf - Zach Hubbard, Scott Johnson, Matt Kimball, George Netzband, Evan Pritchard, James Renwick, Connor Shay.

Girls Golf - Alicia Gowens, Cecelia Kaido, Molly Mumford, Jacqueline Neverette, Nicole Scotto, Micaela Shay, Amanda Snizek, Emily Wagner.

Girls Track and Field - Tamara Beal, Morgan Bernier, Makenzie Conroy, Margaret Curtis, Molly D'Agostino, Jessie Dixon, Cassie Dunbar, Devon Dunbar, Sam Ernest, Caitlin Faulkner, Kayla Fazekas, Ronnie Judge, Alexis Kavanaugh, Kerry Miley, Sam Netzband, Jamie Noble, Christine Oliver, Sahara Post, Kayla Prentice, Brianna Rascoe, Jessica Smith, Melinda Stanton, Megan Theriault, Annamarie Visalli.

Boys Track and Field - Vinnie Bailey, Jacob Bitz, Erick Faherty, Gabriel Faherty, Brett Field, Michael Hilliker, Samuel Htun, Austin Lynch, Ryan Oliver, Nick Stoltz, Dan Thayer, Justin VanDuLutigaarden, Colin VanNamee, Hunter Woodcock.