For Our Lady of Mercy softball and McQuaid Jesuit baseball, the spring of 2005 was a season for the ages.
It’s extremely rare for an unbeaten streak to last as long as the one by McQuaid, which went undefeated in the regular season and won 26 games overall before finally falling in the Section 5 Class AA championship game on May 26.
Mercy was even more impressive, keeping its perfect record intact all the way to the state-championship game. The Monarchs won the Section 5 Class A title along the way and posted a final record of 27-1.
After going 23-0 in the regular season, the Monarchs advanced deep into post-season play thanks to some gritty efforts in tightly contested games. Behind the capable arm of pitcher Joanna Kurycki, top-seeded Mercy earned a 3-1 win over second-seeded Victor in the Section 5 title game on May 28, giving the Monarchs their first sectional crown since 1997.
Mercy went on to score twice in the sixth inning to pull out a 2-1 win over Williamsville South of Section 6, the defending state Class A champion, in a state quarterfinal game on May 31. That win propelled the Monarchs into the June 4 semifinals, where they edged Seaford of Section 8, 6-5, to reach the title game held later that day. Mercy’s Caitlin O’Neill drove in three runs, and Ona Halladay had a two-run single in the win.
Finally, the Monarchs met their match, as Susquehanna Valley of Section 4 blanked Mercy 4-0 in the final held at the Northern Onondaga County Softball Complex. The game was close until the seventh and final inning, when Susquehanna added three insurance runs to stretch a 1-0 lead.
The Knights’ perfect regular season earned them the top seed for the sectional Class AA playoffs as well as a No. 1 ranking in the state Class AA polls.
Dominant pitching carried the Knights early on in sectionals, as Dusty Odenbach fired a one-hitter with 11 strikeouts — and also drove in the game’s lone run in the first inning — in a 1-0 quarterfinal win over No. 9 Spencerport on May 20. Odenbach and Kyle Klee then combined on a three-hitter in a 5-0 semifinal victory over No. 4 Brighton four days later.
McQuaid’s season of perfection came to a shocking end on June 2 as the Knights were routed by third-seeded Webster Thomas, 10-0, in the Class AA championship game. McQuaid had won two of the previous four sectionals.
Elmira Notre Dame softball had another fine season, posting a final record of 22-4 that included a 16-game winning streak and a No. 1 seed in the Section 4 Class C playoffs. However, the Crusaders’ string of six straight sectional titles was halted in the semifinals by fifth-seeded Seton Catholic, 8-5 in nine innings, on May 26.
Noel Bateman of Aquinas Institute had an excellent post-season in boys’ track. He won the 3,200-meter run and the steeplechase at the Section 5 Class BB meet on May 21, then won the Meet of Champions state qualifier on May 27 in the steeplechase and finished fourth in that event at the state meet on June 4.
Another great individual track effort came from Mercy’s Dahlia Townsend, who won three events in the Section 5 Class A meet on May 21. She took the 400-meter run, 100 hurdles and 400 hurdles.
Other event winners at the Section 5 track championships were McQuaid’s Derek Seber (3,200); Mike Wodarski (400 hurdles); Dave DiVirgilio (pole vault); Conor Shelly (pentathlon) and the 1,600 and 3,200 relays in Class A; and the Aquinas boys’ 1,600 relay in Class BB.
McQuaid and Mercy each finished a strong second in team scoring at sectionals.
In boys’ tennis, second-seeded McQuaid advanced to the Section 5 Class A team final. In addition, the Knights’ first doubles tandem of Johan Pestec and Chris Seeger reached the Class A title match in individual competition.
McQuaid golfer J.P. Kircher shot a one-over-par round of 72 at the Section 5 tournament, finishing in a tie for third place on May 23 at Wellsville Country Club.