If anything, you can say the Susquehanna Valley baseball team is resilient.
After squandering a two-run lead in the seventh inning of a 5-4 loss to Norwich on April 19 to fall to 0-4, the season had the potential to unravel early for the Sabers.
Instead, SV responded with five straight victories. Though its winning streak was broken Monday with a 7-1 loss to Chenango Valley, SV finds itself in the Southern Tier Athletic Conference Central Division title chase, a half-game behind leader Seton Catholic Central.
“To be honest, it really wasn’t that bad,” said SV coach Brendan Heslin said of the atmosphere during its season-opening losing streak. “I remember at that point when we were 0-4, talking to my assistant coach and we looked at some numbers. It just didn’t add up.”
“We weren’t playing terribly, but offensively we were struggling a little bit, some of that because of base-running errors.”
Improvement at the plate has been the catalyst behind SV’s turnaround.
After hitting .284 during the 0-4 start — three of the losses by one run, the other by two runs — SV batted .374 over its five-game winning streak, averaging 9.6 runs per game during that stretch. Heslin singled out outfielder David Matthews and infielders Ryan Caroway, Lain Zembek and Matt Hassig as those most responsible for bolstering the offense.
Matthews also won two games on the mound, with Caroway and Hassig also each tallying a victory, continuing the solid pitching that has been the one constant through the ups and downs of SV’s season.
Now, Heslin hopes his team can continue its resurgence and make some noise in a wide-open Central Division race in which Owego and JC are also still factors.
“It seems like all the teams (in STAC), we’re all very evenly matched,” Heslin said. “We were disappointed with the outcome of Monday’s game, but with the way our schedule shapes up, we’re going to get opportunities here quickly to rebound and hopefully get hot again.
“Trust me, the guys are looking forward to getting back on the field.”
U-E’s Hoyt seeks strong finish
A key cog on last year’s Section 4 Class AA championship softball team, Union-Endicott senior Skyler Hoyt has been instrumental in the Tigers’ 6-2 start this season.
Hoyt, a sixth-team selection on the Class AA All-State team last year who recently committed to play in college at St. Peter’s (N.J.) University, is batting .300 with three home runs, 10 RBIs, six stolen bases and 11 runs scored. Defensively, she has been solid at shortstop for a Tigers’ infield that has seen some turnover from a year ago.
“Skyler makes a big difference for us, she’s such a force,” U-E coach Jim Testa said. “She hits for power and when she gets on base, she’s a threat. She has great instincts.”
Testa acknowledged Hoyt has been a little inconsistent in relation to last season, when she batted over .400. He cited the frequent postponement of games due to inclement weather as a factor, but credits Hoyt’s ability to stay upbeat.
“It’s tough to get a rhythm going when you aren’t playing games,” Testa said. “But it’s not going to take much for her — she has the kind of talent that once we start playing more games, there’s nobody I feel that can shut her down.”
M-E’s Gallagher MIA
It’s been a struggle for the Maine-Endwell baseball team this season, the Spartans in the midst of a six-game losing streak that has them at 2-6 a year after winning the Section 4 Class A title.
Looming large has been the absense of senior center fielder Kyle Gallagher. The three-sport standout has not played at all this spring after having shoulder surgery prior to the start of the baseball season. Gallagher had separated his shoulder during football season and re-aggravated the injury during basketball season.
“He’s starting to rehab, where’s he’s throwing a little bit,” M-E coach Gary Crooks said last week. “When we get him back, or whether we get him back, certainly that’s an important piece.
“We’re still pretty young, so he’s that veteran center fielder, No. 3 hitter that can really help us. … but the thing is to make sure he’s completely healthy. It’d be nice for him, his senior year, to finish up where he started.”
Afton a threat again
After a state Class D runner-up finish last year following a two-year absence from the state playoffs, Afton is again looking like a state title contender.
The Crimson Knights are 8-1 and coming off a regional title at last weekend’s Mary Testa Players and Coaches vs. Cancer Tournament, where they defeated host Vestal before rolling to an 11-2 victory over Chenango Valley in the title game.
“That was pretty good for a little Class D school to beat a couple of big schools like that,” Afton coach Cindy Bostelman said. “The old-timers this year, they have stepped up for us.”
Two of those ‘old-timers’ are junior Cassidy Phillips and senior Payton Cutting, both first-team Class D All-State honorees last year. Phillips has handled the bulk of the pitching load this season while Cutting has excelled defensively and offensively as Afton’s starting right fielder.
10 years ago this week
* Windsor’s Mickey Pompeii and Anthony Suhadolnik each had four RBIs in a 15-3 baseball victory over Whitney Point. A month later, the Black Knights would win the state Class B title, with Pompeii earning the classification’s state Player of the Year honors.
* Susquehanna Valley’s Rachael Wiggins had her streak of no-hit innings end at 201⁄3 in a 9-0 victory over Chenango Valley. Wiggins’ bid for a third straight no-hitter was squelched by Stephanie Valentine’s two-out single in the fourth inning. Wiggins finished with a three-hitter, striking out 11 for the Sabers.