Returning first-teamers: Pitcher Abe Rak of Fredonia was the NYS Class B and WNY Player of the Year, but his high school career is over. Rak injured his throwing arm in October and had surgery in March to repair a torn labrum. The labrum is made of a thick tissue that is susceptible to injury with trauma to the shoulder joint. Rak has signed with Mercyhurst (Pa.). The Hillbillies are off to a 4-3 start. "We'll just be another team this year," said coach Vince Gallo.
Outfielder Andy Schettine of Silver Creek was first team all-state in Class C. . . . DH Kevin Roth of Georgetown Cup champion St. Francis was sixth team all-state in Class AA. Roth also plays basketball exceptionally well; he was a first team All- WNY selection last month. . . . Left-hander Frank Pieri of Williamsville South had three no-hitters last year and was first team all-state in Class A. Pieri is a finesse pitcher with a great move to first and command of the strike zone . . .When he wasn't pitching or catching for Pioneer, Matt Schwab was batting .407 with 33 RBIs.
Returning second-teamers: Jon Smith of Niagara- Wheatfield has an impressive resume: seventh team all-state in Class AA, two-time All-WNY second team and Empire State Games shortstop. . . . Representing St. Joe's was catcher Andrew Russo . . . 1B/P Ray Clogston of Newfane was also second team all-state in Class B. . . . Infielder Jamie Wallschlaeger of Gowanda was the Cattaraugus County Player of the Year and third team all-state. He'll continue his career at St. Bonaventure. . . . Strong-armed Chris Gentzke of Clarence can bring it from the mound or center field. . . . Charles Stodolka of Barker was also second team all-state.
Albion has won the Niagara-Orleans League seven of last nine years. The Purples are off to a 4-0, 2-0 start. Senior 1B Brandon Gurnsey bats cleanup. The team also has a strong class of juniors with Justin Ward, a starter since 9th grade, centerfielder Mark Armstrong and leadoff hitter Jeff Andalora. . . . Starpoint will name its new field after longtime coach and current Director of Athletics Thomas J. Sarkovics at an upcoming home game. The Spartans' ace this year is Tim Szalkowski, who struck out 51 in 41 innings last year. . . .Matt Crandall of Cattaraugus/Little Valley earned first team All-State in football after rushing for 2,082 yards. Last spring he was the Pitcher of the Year in Cattaraugus County. . . . Tom Klein of Eden was two-time All-WNY in volleyball and an All-WNY honorable mention in baseball. . . . Scott Gregson of North Tonawanda was All-WNY honorable mention after leading the Niagara Frontier League in stolen bases and hitting .450. . . . Cael Johnson of Frewsburg has signed with St. Bonaventure. Last spring he was CCAA II Player of the Year. . . . Vinny Scarsella was an All-Catholic shortstop for St. Francis. In hockey he became the first player to surpass 200 career points. He's signed with the Canisius College hockey program. . . . Clarence has enough depth at pitching to keep it in every game. The all-senior rotation includes Nick Miano (seven scoreless innings to start the year), Lance Roe (a no-hitter against Sweet Home), and Gentzke (second team all-WNY). . . . Orchard Park returns three starters from last year's 22-7 club: 2B Kevin Sheehan (.319), 3B/P John Rapp and P/1B Tim Klein (.400). Klein was the winning pitcher in the last two sectional championship games. . . . Pioneer, last year's ECIC II champs, moves to ECIC III. The Panthers will ride the arms of Schwab (8-1. 0.85 ERA) and Grant Claypool (5-1, 3.00 ERA). . . . Cheektowaga looks to extend its run of four straight trips to the Class A sectional final with the youngest team in ECIC III. Five sophomores and two freshmen will get plenty of innings. . . . St. Francis, coming off its first Georgetown Cup in 13 years, returns seven starters, but not a lot of pitching. The Red Raiders played four games during workouts in Tampa, Fla. this month. . . . Depew junior Steve Karnyski has a streak of reaching base in 21 consecutive games going back to last year. . . . Eden, owners of the ECIC IV title, will ride the left arm of Nick Scheetz, a hard thrower with good breaking stuff. . . . All-Catholic pitcher Matthew Sullivan of Timon-St. Jude has signed with Mercyhurst Northeast, a NCAA Division II program in Erie, Pa. The Tigers return eight starters including all of their starting pitching: Andy Dlugosz, Matt Dunford and Sullivan. . . . St. Mary's, which reached the Georgetown Cup semis last year, looks to catcher Brad Gibson and ace Gary Schmelzer, who is headed to Pitt-Bradford. . . . CCAA III returns its MVP from last year, senior Billy Roosa of Ellicottville. . . . Paul Gaudagno of Hutch-Tech, Matt Sitarski of South Park and Anthony Coronado of Riverside are coming off All-High seasons. . . . Coaches are expecting Grand Island to contend for the NFL title with Justin McInerney on the mound. . . . Look for Dan Barrancotta to come through when Lockport needs a big hit. . . . Senior pitcher Kenny Murphy is a four-year player for Lancaster. Instead of fastballs in college he'll be throwing footballs as a Q B at St. John Fisher. . . . Six-foot-nine Blake McLimans of Hamburg looks to build on a strong sophomore season.
Fredonia is the defending state champion in Class B. Orchard Park (Class AA) and Fredonia are both looking to win their third consecutive Section VI titles. . . . Section VI sent three teams to the state final four last year: Williamsville South (Class A), Fredonia (Class B) and Silver Creek (Class C). WNY champs: Class AA: Orchard Park. Class A: Williamsville South. Class B: Fredonia. Class C: Silver Creek. Class D: Clymer. Georgetown Cup: St. Francis. Cornell Cup: Hutch-Tech.
*Williamsville South coach Brian Hansen continues to battle his toughest opponent - cancer. After a setback this winter, Hansen, 60, started his second round of chemo treatments April 24. Hansen goes to practice and said he hangs around the dugout during games. His JV coach, Dave Delisanti, has taken over at third; his son, Keith, coaches first; and retired West Seneca East coach Bob Stanko plugs in where he's needed. "I'm very fortunate to have friends like that," said Hansen, who has been the Billies' coach for 34 years. "I'm still hanging in there doing what I can. South is 3-0 so that's not too bad."
*The biggest coaching change in WNY is Bob Kowal, a fixture at Maryvale the past 20 years, moving to Lake Shore. Kowal has taught at Lake Shore the past 16 years. He said it was, "a total family decision," but he's also not complaining about coaching the talented Jason Radwan. He described the sophomore pitcher/3B as the best hitter he's coached since David Smith, who was a 14th-round pick of the Boston Red Sox in 1993. Smith is currently the coach at Clarence. All- WNY football player Joe Inglut will catch for the Eagles.
Kowal was replaced at Maryvale by longtime JV coach Kurt Hansen, son of Williamsville South coach Brian Hansen. Kowal said he, "left the cupboard full," for Hansen.
Salamanca baseball coach Jay Bartoszek and Salamanca softball coach Chad Bartoszek are brothers. Jay is in his sixth season while this is Chad's first year.
Mark Dalfonso at Lancaster is another coach who got the varsity call after 12 years as JV coach. The Redskins are 4-0.
Charting the season
April 28-29: Dunn Tire Park will host the Bob Rich Memorial Tournament. Saturday's games start at noon.
May 22: Section VI seedings meeting at Eden.
May 31-June 2: Section VI finals in all classes at Diethrick Park, Jamestown.
June 4-5: Far West Regionals, site and times, TBA.
June 8-10: Georgetown Cup finals.
June 9: State final four in Binghamton.