BINGHAMTON - Corning scored early and often en route to its first Section IV Class AA title since 2012 with a 14-3 victory over Elmira Saturday at BAGSAI softball complex in Binghamton.
The Hawks had a bitter taste in their mouth after last season’s 9-8 defeat to Horseheads in the sectional finals as Corning coughed up a 7-1 lead and were determined to make it back after that loss.
“I’m really proud of the kids, last year we let one slip away,” Corning head coach Mike Johnston said. “People don’t know, when the season was over last year, on that Saturday, the next Monday we had practice. The majority of the kids showed up and we continued to work on things we thought cost us the game. I’m just proud of their effort.”
After 10 days off between the Southern Tier Athletic Conference Finals, Corning showed no signs rust with 11 runs in the first three innings.
The Hawks got right to work in the first inning, scoring two runs on a booming 2RBI double from Kalea Faulk to left field and tacked on two more runs in the second inning on an error for a 4-0 advantage.
“That was something that we talked about,” said Johnston. “That we needed to get out early and often.”
Corning then piled on seven runs in the third inning powered by two bases loaded walks to Atalyia Rijo and Jenna Case, a pair of RBI singles from Jenna Stansfield and Mikayla Brucie, a sacrifice fly off the bat of Ellie Daugherty and concluded with a Laura Bennett RBI double.
Daugherty also blasted a solo home run as a part of a three-run Hawks fifth.
“We did a nice job moving runners, we did a nice job hitting the ball and being patient at the plate,” said Johnston. “We hit the ball hard today. Today was as well as we’ve hit it all year long. We gave Laura the run support when we needed it the most.”
Bennett tossed a complete game in the effort, striking out six, allowing five hits and walking three batters. The senior Le Moyne College commit skipped a wedding to be with her teammates in the sectional finals.
“You want to talk about commitment,”said Johnston. “There’s somebody that made a choice that this was something really important to her, that she wanted to be a champion in the section before she left.”
After a heartbreaking loss in last year’s sectional finals to Horseheads Bennett focused on the task at hand, but was relieved to capture the title.
“Last year didn’t really come into my mind at all, but it definitely feels like redemption,” said Bennett. “I’m very proud of us, each and every one of us tried very hard today.”
The Express threatened in multiple innings putting runners on second and third in the second inning, but were unable to score when Sarah Coon was called out sliding into home on a questionable call.
In the third inning, Elmira loaded the bases but were able to get one run across on a Lexi Wood single to shortstop as Bennett was able to induce a popup the next batter to end the threat.
Corning will face Section IX in the regional round of the New York State Public High School Athletic Association Thursday at 7 p.m. at Middletown High School.