When it comes to Section 4 Class B softball, the “B” might as well stand for Best.
In the last 20 years, 12 of the Class B state champions have come out of Section 4, including Windsor’s championship last year.
Windsor has now won four state titles in the past 10 years, with three of them coming within the past six seasons.
“I think they’re very proud of what we’ve got at Windsor,” said Bill Waldron, head coach of Windsor’s last three state champions. “I know I am. I think the school and our community really back these kids. They play hard for me. I don’t have to push them hard. They know what their job is when they show up for a 4:30 p.m. game.”
Windsor is not alone when it comes to talent within the section. The only year in the last 10 in which Section 4 didn’t have one of the five state champions was 2012.
The Black Knights’ bid for their fourth state title in seven seasons will fall on the shoulders of a young team that still has plenty of experience. Three all-state players are among six returning starters: first-team shortstop Emma Benson, third-team second baseman/pitcher Paige Rauch and fifth-team catcher Allison Lockwood.
Rauch and sophomore Mara Kohlbach will be called on to do the pitching following the graduation of first-team all-state hurler Morgan Starley.
Six starters return in total. Others back include first baseman/third baseman Kiley Buchek, outfielders Rachel DeAngelo and Liz Wickizer, third baseman Cassidy Smith, and first baseman/outfielder Jordyn Steele. Waldron said newcomer Danielle Cary adds speed.
“Every year I tell them nobody is afraid of us right now,” Waldron said. “We just keep trying to focus on the little things, day by day things. It’s a young team, but it’s a young team with experience.”
The road through Section 4 won’t be easy for the Knights. Class B runner-up Waverly lost only two seniors from last year’s team and finished ranked sixth in the state, one spot ahead of Oneonta. Chenango Valley and Susquehanna Valley also have recent state titles on their resumes.
Union-Endicott advanced to the state semifinals following its win over Binghamton in the sectional final and a semifinal victory against Horseheads.
Horseheads won the last two Southern Tier Athletic Conference tournament titles but came up short in sectionals each season.
This class boasted four quality teams last season, with Corning losing out on the STAC West title to Horseheads in a playoff after winning the 2012 sectional crown.
Maine-Endwell will try for its third straight sectional title after scoring three runs in the seventh inning for a 5-4 win over Vestal in last year’s final. M-E added a win in the state tournament before it was eliminated in the quarterfinals.
Vestal is the defending STAC Metro champion.
The career of two-time New York State Class C Player of the Year Olivia May of Elmira Notre Dame came to a close with a loss to Binghamton Seton Catholic Central in last year’s sectional finals.
Alivia Clark steps into the role as the Crusaders’ No. 1 pitcher, with six other starters back from last season.
Seton and Notre Dame lead a strong class that also includes Thomas A. Edison, which has moved up to the IAC Large School Division after winning back-to-back Small School titles. South Large School teams Notre Dame, Waverly and Edison had a combined record of 53-9 last season.
Afton returned to the top of the heap in Class D last year after failing to win sectional titles the previous two seasons following a streak of 16 straight championships.
The Crimson Knights lost to Fort Ann, 5-2, in a bid for the program’s eighth state championship and first since 2009.