Sports Editor’s Playbook, April 21, 2013

Patrick Newell

Did anyone notice similarities in the Sherburne-Earlville baseball and softball linescores Wednesday? Rarely have I seen two game results so statistically symmetrical. Or, it was one of those unique coincidences that happen in sports way more than one thinks. And the only reason I am mentioning the coincidence is that I am a certified stats geek. The Elias Sports Bureau hires guys like me – times about 10.
If you missed the game results, here is what happened: Sherburne-Earlville’s two teams both built 3-0 leads with one-run inning and a two-run inning, and took 3-0 leads into the fifth. The boys gave up six runs in the bottom of the fifth and lost 6-3. The Marauders’ girls lost their three-run lead giving up all six runs in the sixth inning. They, too, lost 6-3. It’s unusual to have that similar of an outcome between any two teams I cover, much less two teams playing on the same day on adjacent fields. This is just another example among hundreds of why sports are so refreshing and unpredictable. On any given day in any game, you might witness something you’ve never seen before.

I haven’t targeted Norwich varsity softball in my blog, well…not too often. Thursday’s victory at Susquehanna Valley was a milestone I wish I saw. Of course, I had 17 other games to report on, and SV’s home site is a 75-minute drive on a good day. In 2011 and 2012, Norwich won exactly won Southern Tier Athletic Conference league game. Neither of those two victories compares to this one, especially considering the opposition. For most of my 18 seasons covering area sports, Susquehanna Valley softball has taken a spot at or near the top of our section winning multiple Section IV titles along the way. This year’s Sabers may not have the makings of a state title contender, but when has that mattered? Norwich has not beaten Sus Valley in at least 20 years. The Norwich team that ended the drought starts three and sometimes four freshman among the six infield spots. Norwich softball, long the doormat in STAC, is no longer anyone’s patsy. Just ask Sus Valley.

Friday’s sports edition paid tribute to George Echentile, one of this year’s Norwich Sports Hall of Fame inductees. Echentile was long retired before this generation of students were born, but for generations before that, he was as dignified and classy a teacher as there ever was at Norwich High School. He was one of my physical education teachers at NHS in the 1980s, and was, simply put, the finest teacher I ever had. That is no disrespect to the many good teachers I had in high school and college. Some people just set the bar incredibly high. He was named teacher of the year in Norwich multiple times, and in my opinion, they should have just renamed the award in his honor. They just don’t make ‘em like George Echentile anymore.

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