By Rob Potter
GRAHAMSVILLE This softball season will be a little different than past seasons for Coach Mary Feusner and her Tri-Valley Lady Bears.
First, T-V’s division, the Orange County Interscholastic Athletic Association (OCIAA) Division V, will become more challenging.
“We are in a very tough division,” Feusner said. “League officials moved Chapel Field out of Division VI and purposely into our division. We also have to face Chester and Tuxedo.”
In their first game of the season on April 2, the Lady Bears were defeated by Chapel Field, 14-0.
And the Lady Bears will be meeting their division foes with a reduced roster.
“We had a number of girls who played for us last year but didn’t go out for softball again this season,” Feusner said. “So we have 12 players on the roster this spring. I am used to having 15 or 16 girls on the team.
“With only 12 girls on the team, we will have to stay healthy,” she added.
T-V lost seven seniors Kaylie Ackerley, Samantha Adriaans, Tricia Corigliano, Meghan Drown, Addie Frost, Anni Hartman and Laurel Wilsen to graduation last June.
But guided by their veteran coach, the Lady Bears are ready to take on tough division and non-division foes alike.
Four T-V players are returning from the 2008 campaign, when the team posted an overall record of 8-10.
Those four returnees are senior right fielder Erica Costa, junior left fielder/pitcher Christina Neist, junior shortstop Karyn Sheeley and senior catcher Ellen Williams.
Rounding out the Lady Bears’ roster are five sophomores and two freshmen.
Feusner noted that junior Lauren Jones, who played on the T-V junior varsity squad last year, will be the Lady Bears’ starting pitcher this spring.
“We have a team this season that will learn a lot about playing varsity softball,” Feusner said.
One of Feusner’s goals for the season is having her players maintain their usual high academic standards.
“We will be looking to earn the New York State academic award again,” she commented. “We want to uphold that tradition.”
One of the season highlights for the Lady Bears will be playing in the first annual Ben Chesnick Memorial Softball Tournament. The tourney, formerly known as the Sullivan County Softball Officials Tournament, will be played on Saturday, April 25 at the Grahamsville Fairgrounds and Liberty Central School.
A total of seven local teams will participate in the event.
In 9 a.m. games at the Fairgrounds, Roscoe will play T-V and Eldred will face Monticello. At 11 a.m., the winning teams from those two games will meet for the championship and the losing teams from the earlier contests will play in the consolation game.
At 9 a.m. in Liberty, Sullivan West will play Livingston Manor. At 11 a.m., Liberty will face Livingston Manor. At 1 p.m., Liberty will meet Sullivan West.
“Each team will play two games in the tournament,” Feusner said.
Feusner noted that the tournament honors Chesnick, a longtime high school softball umpire who passed away back in December. Chesnick was an original member of the Sullivan County Softball Officials Association when the organization was formed in 1984.
He helped the association become officially recognized by New York State and the American Softball Association (ASA).
“Benny had more than three decades of umpiring experience,” Feusner said. “He was always a great help to these girls playing softball. We all have some great stories about Benny and his umpiring.”
In the event of rain on April 25, the tournament will be held on the following Saturday, May 2.
Feusner noted that because many local high school students will be taking the SAT exam that morning, all of the games would be played in the afternoon.