CORNING WINS THE 2012 MORABITO TOURNAMENT
Tournament MVP Quincey Lewis pitched two shutouts Sunday to lead Corning to the championship of the James 'Ace' Morabito softball tournament in Herkimer. The Hawks (14-4) defeated Oneida 2-0 in the final as Lewis tossed a four-hitter. Earlier, Corning defeated R.C. Ketchum 4-0 on Lewis' two-hitter. Lewis surrendered one run in four games over two days of the 16-school tournament.
In the final, Corning scored in the first inning when Chaylen Andolino singled and scored on two passed balls. The other run came on consecutive sixth-inning doubles by Lewis and Andolino. On Saturday, Corning scored seven first-inning runs and beat Clarkstown South 8-0, then rallied past St. Joe by the Sea 2-1 to reach the semifinals. Oneida rallied for two final-inning victories on Saturday then beat 2011 NYSPHSAA Class B champion Windsor 11-3 in the semifinals on Sunday.
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.
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.
Niagara-Wheatfield senior Caitlin Attfield became the NYSPHSAA record holder for career stolen bases in softball at 122 on Sunday, breaking the previous record of 121 by Jordan Rutkowski of Alden set in 2007. Attfield, a University of Alabama-Birmingham recruit, stole six bases as N-W split four games over the weekend at the Ace Morabito Tournament. She has 34 steals this spring.
St. Joseph by-the-Sea split a pair of one-run games Saturday at the prestigious James “Ace” Morabito Memorial Invitational Softball Tournament. The Vikings (20-2 overall) opened with a 5-4 nine-inning victory over Shaker HS (Latham, N.Y.).
The contest was 1-1 in the bottom of the sixth inning with a Shaker baserunner on third and one out. Sea third baseman Alannah Dawson fielded the ensuing grounder and fired home to catcher Stefanie Abolt to cut the runner down and keep the score tied.
With the international tiebreaker rule invoked, the teams each scored a run in the eighth inning for a 2-2 deadlock. In the ninth, Jackie Cautela belted her second triple of the game with two out, clearing the bases for a 5-2 Sea lead. Shaker would battle back with two in the bottom of the frame, but pitcher Lianna Jordan recorded a fly out to right to strand the tying run on second to end it.
Jordan scattered five hits over nine innings to register the complete-game win.
In the second contest, the Vikings dropped a 2-1 decision to Corning (N.Y.) HS.
Sea opened the scoring in the home first as Cautela walked and scored on Dawson’s two-out RBI double. But Corning would pull ahead with solo markers in the fifth and sixth. The Vikes, meanwhile, only had one baserunner after the second stanza as they were handcuffed by C.W. Post-bound southpaw Quincy Lewis.
“We had a lot of energy against a good team,” said Sea coach Mike Ponsiglione. “I was happy with the effort in both games. This tournament and this town are unbelievable; it’s like a college showcase. They eat and breathe softball. If we play like this when we get home, we’ll be going back to States.”