As each day passes, it appears more and more likely that there will not be a 2020 spring sports season of any kind in the area. COVID-19 has taken over the world and with it has gone any semblance of normalcy, which would always include the final sports season of the high school year.
And while it is still possible that there will be games of some sort, it’s increasingly probable that numerous excellent storylines will not be able to be played out this spring.
In no specific order, here are some of the possible things that we will be missing if sports, in fact, does not happen:
Pembroke’s shot at a softball sectional title
Head coach Ron Funke’s Dragons have been close. In 2017 with a team led by pitcher Sam Tatarski, Katie Haefele and a number of young stars, Pembroke advanced to the C1 semifinals — including an upset win over Le Roy — before falling to eventual champion Gananda in a 1-0 battle.
Following a rebuilding year with a young team, the Dragons were back again last spring and were an impressive 16-2, yet they fell in a 5-4 thriller in the Class C2 title game to Letchworth.
Pembroke would have been returning this season with virtually their entire 2019 roster, including a number of athletes that saw their hoops season cut short right before the Far West Regional final.
With Allie Schwerthoffer in the circle and the likes of Casey Wurtz, Mackenna Johnson, Dekari Moss and a host of others this team was sure to make another run at a block.
Batavia baseball coach Rick Saunders’ final year
Having been the Blue Devils head coach since 1999, this was set to be Saunders’ final spring in the dugout. After what seemed like a lifetime’s worth of sectional final losses, Saunders and the Blue Devils finally captured the sectional block last spring.
And though Batavia fell to Le Roy in the Class B crossover, it was the program’s first Section V title since 1998 and the Blue Devils had plenty of firepower coming back this season. Alex Hale and Jake Humes would have led the way for a team that would have likely given Saunders a chance to go out on top with two in a row. He’ll still go out on top, but it could have been sweeter.
Notre Dame softball back again?
It was an up-and-down 2019 for first-year head coach Otis Thomas but the Fighting Irish certainly did what they had to when it counted.
Though they finished the season at just 11-8 they turned it on late and advanced to the Class D1 title game before dropping an 8-7 heartbreaker to Alfred-Almond. In fact, out of Notre Dame’s eight defeats last season, five came by two runs or less.
Thomas would have lost top players in Callie McCulley and Audrey Farrell to graduation, but the majority of last spring’s roster would have been returning, including Abby Pingrey, Montana Weidman, Jewel Schenk, Sarah McGinnis and a host of other young stars.
A title game in your first year as head coach is a tough thing to accomplish. It would have been interesting to see what ND could have done in Thomas’ second go-around.
Warsaw softball defending their softball title.
After making the NYS Class C finals a year ago, Warsaw was looking for a sectional repeat this spring following the graduation losses of Anna O’Geen, Katie Kersch, Savannah Till, Sammie Kilner and Riley Marshall.
The Lady Tigers, coached by Amber Stackhouse, returned plenty of firepower including seniors Lizzy Standera, Nicole Till, Ceanne Ellwsorth and Cristen Green along with juniors Maddie Young and Mackenzie Ryan.
Warsaw finished 20-1 last year and this spring was expected to be very interesting with plenty of hay in the barn.
Would Batavia track and field have gotten back on top?
One of the most consistent track and field programs in Section V, both the Blue Devils girls and boys have come up dry in the last couple of seasons.
The Batavia boys fell by one lone point at the Class B championship last season, while the girls finished in third; meanwhile, though they haven’t finished worse than second in at least the last seven years, the boys’ last crown came in 2017 — which capped off two in a row.
For the girls, other than a struggle in 2018 they haven’t finished lower than fourth since before the 2013 season and won three straight Class B crowns from 2014-16.
Le Roy track and field possible sectional sweep.
Head coach Jay Laitenberger’s Oatkan Knights won the Section V Class CC title last year in boys track and finished third in the girls standings.
With a talented core of seasoned veterans returning for both programs, Laitenberger was on a mission to take home two blocks this year.
The boys returned senior speedster Aidan Harrington, the defending champion in the 400, who also placed second and third in the 200 and 100, respectively.
Other solid returners for the boys included senior Kade Lambert (hurdles), junior Andrew Loftus (distance), junior Ethan Beswick (jumps), junior Cole Rauscher (pole vault), senior Chris Gualtieri (pole vault), junior Nick Vallese (jumps), sophomore Zach Vanderhoof (throws), junior Nate Andrews (pentathlon) and sophomore Erik Schwab (distance).
With Harrington leading the way, the Le Roy boys would have been tough to beat this May.
The Le Roy girls were also expecting a big season from returning sectional champion Isabella Condidorio, only a freshman, who won the 400 Hurdles as an eighth grader and was also second in the 100 Hurdles to teammate and 2019 graduate McKenna Cone.
Also for Le Roy, seniors Kayla Fussell (pole vault), Elizabeth Sorensen (pole vault) and Ally Flint (throws); juniors Courtney Kacur (distance) and Delcina Cassidy (jumps); sophomores Megan Benware (sprints) and Gwen Lambert (throws); and freshmen Charlotte Blake (distance), Ashley Totten (distance) were all on pace for promising seasons.
Pavilion’s Karlee Zinkievich running (and jumping) her way to another sectional title; teammate Wolcott destined for a patch.
Just an eighth grader last spring, Pavilion’s Karlee Zinkievich captured the Section V Class D Pentathlon title.
Zinkievich won the crown with 2015 points, over 80 points ahead of Hammondsport runner-up Alivia Phenes.
Of the five individual events, Zinkievich won three of them including the 800, long jump and shot put.
Teammate Shea Amberger, a sophomore this year, placed third in that same event last spring.
Pavilion sophomore Alexa Wolcott, becoming one of the top distance and middle distance runners in the area, placed second in both the 800 and 1500 last spring at sectionals. She fell in the 1500 to Fillmore senior Amanda Burrichter, who has since graduated.
Pavilion girls track is on the rise and this spring could have made a run for the top of the podium.
Wheatland-Chili’s Zach Miles was destined to double up.
After winning last year’s Class D long jump title with a winning leap of 20-9 3/4, Wheatland-Chili’s Zach Miles, a sophomore last year, placed second in the boys triple jump with a leap of 40-8 falling to graduate Julian Hopkins, of Avoca/Prattsburgh.
Miles, a junior this spring, would have been the favorite to win both events this year for the Wildcats.
Teammate Joey Sutherland, a senior this spring, was third in last year’s pentathlon and had one senior in front of him and would have also made a run at the top step.
Le Roy baseball going for three titles in four years.
Last year’s Class B2 sectional champions, who also won the Class C1 title in 2017, had a solid core of experienced players back on the diamond this spring for head coach Ieon Koukides and the Oatkan Knights, who would have made a strong run for their third sectional title in three years.
This year’s Le Roy baseball team was senior-laden with nine of them including proven veterans Giavanni Caccamise, Ryan Friend, Kyler LaCarte, Tommy Saunders and Cole Heaney.
Since 2016, Le Roy baseball is 55-31 with two titles.
More tennis excellence was set to come
Though just one local team won a sectional block last spring, three others were in the sectional finals, while a number of other teams were on the brink of sectional success.
After somewhat of a drought, Perry was back on top last season when the Yellowjackets won their first sectional title since 2013 when they defeated Byron-Bergen for the Class C block.
Oakfield-Alabama also had a strong season as the Hornets advanced all the way to the Class DD finals before falling to Alfred-Almond, while Notre Dame got to the Class D final before falling to Fillmore.
Le Roy saw its run of two straight sectional titles come to an end last spring but the Knights still had another solid season, advancing to the semifinals.
Those five previously mentioned teams combined to go 58-12 in 2019.