Tri-Valley and Monticello Split Double Header In Benny Chesnick Softball Tourney As Both Teams Evince Great Starts To The Season
Monticello 4, Tri-Valley 2
Tri-Valley 6, Monticello 4
By RICHARD A. ROSS and MARY FEUSNER
Photos at: www.sportsinsights.smugmug.com
GRAHAMSVILLE, NY—Nothing sparks enthusiasm and momentum better than a fast start to a new season. And for both the Monticello Lady Panthers 4-2 (1-1 OCIAA) and the Tri-Valley Lady Bears 3-1, the earmarks of early success may well be a harbinger of good things to come as the season progresses. One thing is for sure though. Given the youth on both teams, this season is likely to be a forerunner of even greater success over the next couple of years.
Each year Tri-Valley hosts the Benny Chesnick Memorial Softball Tournament, a chance for the Sullivan County Softball Officials to gear up for the season ahead, especially newer umpires who often learn the tricks of the trade from veterans who have been around the diamond seemingly forever. Of course the late Benny Chesnick was just such an icon. Having written extensively about Benny in the past, I will simply refer my readers to the archives here on sportsinsightsny.com to read about the man who was a beloved fixture behind the plate for decades.
Normally the tournament involves four teams but this year it was only two as Sullivan West pulled out due to insufficient numbers as the tournament was rescheduled from the prior week due to yet more of the lingering winter weather. Eldred should have been the fourth team but they never responded to the invite.
That left the Class A Lady Panthers and the Class C Lady Bears to duke it out. For Tri-Valley Coach Mary Feusner, the start to the season that had already marshaled wins over Chapel Field and Livingston Manor was a great uplifiting tonic. T-V has had its struggles the past few years and this was exactly what Feusner wanted to see, namely her team executing the fundamentals, staying focused and doing the little things that taken together bring success. Tri-Valley has only three seniors this year. Two of them are experienced veterans in pitcher/outfielder Emily DiToro and catcher/first baseman Ashley Exner. They are joined by outfielder Marina Braddock.
Monticello has no seniors so imagine the delight felt by Coach Shannon Dietrich after her team registered its first victory over Goshen in a decade. The Monties did lose a close one to Port Jervis to even their league record at 1-1 but things look bright for the Lady Panthers.
The teams split the double header as T-V won the opener 4-2.
In the first game the pitching matchup featured T-V freshman Kacie Allison, a year-round travel player and Monticello’s Taylor Spargo. Both pitched well. Allison had been dominant in her first two starts.
Neither team scored in the first inning but a pair of walks would prove to be key as Monticello got on the board in the second frame as Morgan Halloran scored Brianna Bennet on a sac fly. The Lady Bears tied it up in the third on an RBI double by hard-hitting eighth grader Mikayla Clearwater. Clearwater, whose dad Gary is an assistant coach on the team plays travel ball and it shows. Her dad oversees her training which includes hundreds of push ups and lengthy runs. One look at her powerful swing and you can tell it’s all paying off. Clearwater was the catcher in the first game and she showed her rocket of an arm as she nearly caught Lady Monties off guard on the base paths.
Monticello got three runs in the fourth inning which began inauspiciously for Tri-Valley with an E- that allowed Alex Stant to reach safely. A double by Bennett put runners on second and third with no outs. A walk to Spargo then loaded the bases. Essence Gonzalez drove in the first run with a single. Halloran and Victoria Kerendian drove in the next two runs to give the Monties a 4-1 lead. T-V got its final run on an RBI single from Katie Jester.
As I was committed to being the Master of Ceremonies at the 28th Annual Hortonville Talent Show, I had to pass up the second game so Coach Feusner was kind enough to provide the summary as follows: