The 2017-18 school year officially came to a close over the weekend with high school graduations, but a number of area softball standouts received some extra recognition this week as the New York State Sportswriters Association released its 2018 All-State softball teams.
Representing the Section V Class D champion Arkport/Canaseraga Wolves were a pair of seniors in Abbi Patrick and Nicole Hurlburt.
In their first year of existence as The Wolves, Arkport/Canaseraga amassed an overall record of 16-7 while winning the Class D2 Championship and advancing to the NYS Far West Regional.
Hurlburt, named to the Class D Second Team, put together an unbelievable season behind the plate defensively, keeping runners at bay all season long. She also had a great season at the plate on offense, hitting over .500 for the season while providing a huge boost of energy to the squad all year.
“She definitely brought the energy to both practice and the games. But having a great catcher with a lot of athleticism and a great arm makes a really big difference,” said Arkport/Canaseraga coach Rob Patrick. “It’s always great to have a solid catcher back there, and Nicole has made a huge difference here over the past couple of years.”
Patrick, one of the best all-around athletes in the area, showcased her considerable talents in the circle, on the diamond and in the batters box in earning a spot on the Class D Fourth Team.
“With Abbi we had a lot of leadership and a lot of experience on the softball field. She ended up with a .520 average, she was able to play the shortstop position and has been a good pitcher for the last couple of years,” said Patrick. “But really, her leadership and experience were invaluable. And she could hit, field and pitch - and I think that’s what separated her.”
Alfred-Almond also had an athlete earn a spot on the Class D Second Team in Ali Fancher. Fancher was an absolute nightmare in the circle for every team that she faced not just this year, but throughout her entire varsity career.
Fancher, along with the rest of her senior class, had one of the best seasons in Alfred-Almond history, finishing the season with an overall record of 13-7 while winning the Class D1 Championship and advancing to the NYS Section V Qualifier.
Rounding out the local spots was Wayland-Cohocton’s Ayslinn Holbrook, who landed with a spot on the Class B Second Team. The Golden Eagles possessed one of the youngest lineups in all of Class B this season, but thanks largely to Holbrook’s effort, that inexperience was barely noticeable.
Wayland-Cohocton earned a No. 2 overall seed in the Section V Class B Tournament thanks to an impressive 18-2 regular season, including 16 straight wins to end the season. The Golden Eagles ended the season with a 19-3 overall record after eventually falling to Livonia in the Class B semifinals.
In Class C, Addison's Laura Burrell had another stellar season on the mound for the Lady Knights, as she picked up a fourth team nod.
Over in Allegany County, four different local athletes made the list in Class D. Among them, Bolivar-Richburg star pitcher Sydney Root, who had an unbelievable season for the Lady Wolverines in the circle.
In her junior season, Root led all Allegany County pitchers with 220 strikeouts, including a pair of no-hitters, and 18 of the team’s 19 victories this season. In all, Root built up a pile of accolades for her performance this season, including an Allegany County Division I MVP award, as well as a second team nod in the state.
“Sydney really did have a great season,” said B-R coach Mark Emery. “In my mind, she not only carried us early on, but she gave her teammates time to elevate her game. In the end, we were a better team, and her consistency in the circle allowed us to have that growth. She really made a tremendous stride forward.”
This all came with the possibility of a learning curve coming into play for a young Lady Wolverines team in 2018. But Emery was confident that Root would come through.
“I was expecting a learning curve to come about,” he said. “I thought there would be more of it, but honest to goodness, when you have a pitcher like Sydney, that does a lot to mature a team and stabilize it along the way. She did that for us. It’s absolutely phenomenal what she did.”
Finishing behind her was Fillmore’s Macy Miller, who helped lead the Lady Eagles to the Class D1 finals. It was the first finals trip for a Fillmore girls program in over 10 years, where they ultimately fell to eventual Class D1 champion Alfred-Almond at Houghton College.
Head coach Jon Beardsley applauded Miller's efforts.
"It takes players and people like Macy to achieve the success that we've had this year," he said. "She is an absolutel trend setter, and a perfect example of what our future looks like in our softball program at Fillmore. What's great about Macy making the team, and the player she has become, is that its origin is based off of hard work, extra time and effort, and a whole bunch of heart."
Miller finished her junior season in style, recording nine shutouts, including three no-hitters, with nearly 200 strikeouts on the season in 14 victories in the circle. Miller also provided a force on offense in the lead-off spot with a .500 on-base percentage, recording a home run along the way with her 10 doubles.
With one more season left in a Fillmore uniform, her stock will continue to rise in Allegany County softball.
"She is passionate about the game," Beardsley added of Miller. "It's something that holds many back because it's lacking. Most importantly, she is kind-hearted. Macy is the first to recognize others, how they helped her, and how it takes a team to make accomplishments like this season happen."
Emily Daciw added a fourth-team nomination in Allegany County for the Lady Jaguars of Genesee Valley. The Genesee Valley junior finished third among all pitchers with 167 strikeouts in the circle, collecting all 14 of the team’s wins along the way, as well as being one of the team’s biggest offensive threats at the plate, smashing a pair of home runs.
Rounding out Class D was Andover’s Leah Simon, who recorded a fifth-team nod for the Lady Panthers behind nearly 40 strikeouts and three wins on the mound, splitting time between pitcher and catcher, as well as hitting a home run at the plate to help lead the way on offense for a Lady Panthers squad that finished 9-10 in their first season without superstar Gretta Howland, who graduated last summer.
In Class B, Savannah Perham scored a fifth-team selection for the Lady Lions of Wellsville. Perham was an offensive threat that put teams on notice, recording a county-leading three home runs at the plate, as well as a long span of games where she recorded multiple hits for a Wellsville team that finished a fourth straight season with 10 or more wins under head coach Matt Burke.
"Savannah is very deserving of this honor," Burke said. "She is a tremendous player on both offense and defense."
The Lady Lions trip through the sectional tournament came to a halt to Newark in nine innings in the quarterfinals, but Wellsville is positioned for a big spring in 2019 with most of the roster back in black and orange.