Monday, July 9, 2018 | BataviasBest.org
It’s a privilege to play high school athletics, and an even larger privilege to cover them. At the end of each season I take a look back on what I experienced over the past several months, and each time I do so I am overwhelmed with the memories of seasons past.
Looking back at this past year in HS Sports, the local area saw six teams across baseball, softball, boys/girls basketball, and football finish as Section V Champions, while countless others also created lifelong memories along the way despite finishing without championship hardware. Great games, great performances, great moments – all composed by the incredible athletes which grace each school’s courts and fields.
It’s never easy for me to put the past behind me, and move on to the next season, but closure must be reached and we must make way for the next class of competitors which are set to enter the realm.
With that being said, with closure comes reflection, and before we move on to 2018-2019 I took some time to look back on what went down during this past season.
The Football season featured a few surprises, as three-time sectional champion Batavia failed to reach the mountain top for a fourth-straight year, while defending champ Alexander also fell short of another title, and Cal-Mum/Byron-Bergen came out of nowhere to become the only local team to finish with the ultimate prize – a Section V ‘Block’.
A team that many had written off during the regular season, the Red Raiders rode an emotionally-charged swell of momentum all the way to the Class C Title. It wasn’t an easy road for six-seeded C-M/B-B, but behind a steady, multi-faceted offense, accompanied by a formidable defense, the Raiders made the most of their opportunities and wound up with the sectional crown.
Aside from the team success which was experienced this past season, there was also individual achievements which were most notable – but none more than the performance of Pembroke RB/LB Zach von Kramer.
“Vonk” as he was affectionately known to his teammates, was without a doubt the top-player in the local area throughout this past season, and was awarded the Section V Class D Offensive Player of the Year for his efforts in propelling the Dragons to their first successful season in quite some time. Zach was a stalwart not only offensively for his team, but also defensively, and proved his worth week-in and week-out – all the way to the sectional semifinals.
Pembroke’s football program hadn’t seen success in years, and will likely face an uphill climb toward competing in the future as they are forced to part with several key seniors, including von Kramer. who propelled their efforts in 2017. However, what they did this past season will not soon be forgotten in Dragons’ country.
Moving forward into next season, I expect more success for the local area in terms of sectional achievement. A few teams have loads of talent returning, and I believe we could have multiple champions in 2018.
Moving on to basketball season, there wasn’t a single boys team which wound up with a Section V Championship at season’s end, but three girls teams took care of business and won their Class Title.
First was Notre Dame who, after being moved up in class following a 2016-2017 championship in Class D1, won the 2017-2018 Class C1 Title, over Letchworth. The Irish used an impressive comeback effort in the title game, which was fueled by sophomore Callie McCulley – one of the top-players throughout the local area. McCulley is back to lead the Irish once again in 2018-2019, and I expect ND to have a chance at yet another sectional title.
Next, in Class D1, Wheatland-Chili capped off an incredible year with the championship, as the Wildcats used a defensive-minded approach to thwart their opponents throughout the season. Elba was the last local champion in Class D2, and will be forced to look forward to life without top-player Emily Reynolds – who graduated this past summer.
On the boys side, Pembroke was the lone local team to reach the sectional finals, behind the efforts of Reid Miano. The Dragons’ forward was the top-player in the area this past season, and did his best to help his team to what was a successful campaign.
Looking ahead to next season, it will be a transitional year for many boys/girls teams, but that doesn’t mean local teams couldn’t have a more-successful season on the way. When it comes down to it, I expect area squads to win as many, or more, championships than the three which were taken home this year.
Transitioning ahead, as I look back on this past baseball/softball season one thing stood out above the rest: NO-HITTERS.
Although Cal-Mum and Le Roy each finished the year as sectional champions, the near ten no-hitters thrown by local pitchers was incredibly impressive, and likely won’t be topped for quite some time. It was the year of the pitcher this year in HS baseball/softball, and a few of those who hurled no-no’s this past spring will return for their teams in 2019.
One player who won’t return for her team, however, was Cal-Mum Softball’s Andrea Coyle, who recorded an incredible 64 RBI throughout her squad’s championship season. In my short time covering HS Sports, I have yet to see anyone come close to that number, and I would expect I won’t see anyone come close anytime in the near future.
Like Coyle, several other talented players in both softball and baseball head for life beyond HS Sports, opening the door for an interesting season in 2018-2019. I’m not sure what to expect from many of our local teams next year, and only time will tell who rises to the top as a championship contender.
Finally, we’ve reached the conclusion of the 2017-2018 HS Sports season. As I wrote before, it’s never easy giving up on seasons past, but it’s a must in order to make room for seasons present.
With that being said, I am now undergoing the process of dissecting the upcoming 2018 HS Football season.
Coverage will begin in the next few weeks.
(Batavia’s Best has a specific focus on Football, Basketball, Baseball, and Softball. While I do my best to cover all sports during the season, there are certain aspects of coverage, including this season reflection, which are limited to the four sports which have my primary focus.)