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Valley Sports Report
WAVERLY — First-year Waverly softball coach Brent Doane brings a wealth of experience to his new job, and is looking forward to steering the Wolverine program into it the STAC in 2024 and beyond.

Doane has coached for more than 25 years, with the majority of his time at the collegiate level.

He was an assistant coach at Cornell from 1999-2001, and again from 2013-20. During his first stint, he was on the coaching staff that won the program’s  first-ever Ivy League title in 1999.

In between (from 2001-12), Doane was the head coach at Tompkins-Cortland Community College, where he won a national championship in 2009.

Doane also had a brief stint at Owego, but left the post due to a change in his job requirements at TCCC.

After he returned to his previous job at TCCC, Doane ran into Waverly Superintendent of Schools Dr. Eric Knolles, and then toured the new facilities at Waverly High School, which led him to his new position.

Doane is impressed with Waverly’s new softball and baseball fields, and Waverly’s facilities in general.

“These facilities are top-notch, state-of-the-art,” he said.

“Dr. Knolles’ vision here is incredible. He put a plan in place, and the people in charge of making it happen have done a great job.

“Between the softball diamond, the baseball diamond, the football stadium, the track, the pool, and all the additions insie the building, which will become a new events center, basically — there’s no finer facilities around,” noted Doane. “It’s better than a lot junior colleges.

“Our athletes have it so, so good,” he added.

Doane will bring longtime coaching co-hort Steve Terry with him as an assistant coach, and will also have Waverly grad Zoe Mennig, who will work with the varsity, JV, and modified teams.

Doane notes the varsity numbers are a little low, but the rest of the program has tremendous numbers.

“We only have 13 on varsity, but we are packed at the lower levels,” he said. “We have 23 or 24 at the modified level, to the point where we’re looking at two teams.

“At the JV level, we’re carrying 17 or 18,” said Doane. “There are a couple JV kids I’m looking at possibly to taxi back-and-forth to help (varsity) out when we’re a little short-handed.

“The numbers are great at the lower levels, and I’m hoping we can maintain that,” he added.

The biggest challenge Doane is facing in his first preseason at Waverly is the unknown.

“The biggest hurdle is getting to know the girls, them getting to know me, and them figuring out what it is we want from them,” he said. “We’re introducing new concepts and philosophies, and getting them to understand what we want, and how it may be different from what they’ve done in the past.

“The girls have been super, though, they’re working hard, making adjustments, and asking questions,” Doane noted. “They’ve tried to do everything we’ve asked them to do.

“A lot of my concepts I’ve tried to bring from the collegiate level because that’s where my experience is, so that’s all brand new to them as well,” said Doane. “Add into that we’re facing some new competitions, players and teams these girls have never seen before and it’s going to be challenging.

“Yeah, it’s gonna be a battle, but I like these girls,” he added.

Freshman Hannah Carpenter returns at catcher this year to anchor the Waverly infield.

“(Carpenter) is a dynamite athlete,” said Doane. “She throws the ball very, very well, and swings the bat viciously.”

Sophomore Delaney Wheeler will start at firs base, with junior Brinn Cooney at second base, junior Loralye Anthony at shortstop, and sophomore Maddie Cron starting at third base.

“We are young across the infield,” said Doane.

Junior Meghan Apgar will anchor the outfield in center field, with junior Makayla Esau at one corner outfield spot, and freshman Lecksie Douglas at the other.

Senior Olivia Robinson will do the majority of the pitching, but will miss the first two games of the season on a school trip to Italy. Anthony will pitch those games, with Douglas shifting in to play at shortstop.

Senior Faith Blauvelt, and Kailey Purvis, and junior Bella Gonzalez will all vie for time in the outfield, while, freshman Kaiya Horton could see time at first base or in the outfield.

With just 13 on the varsity roster, Doane says depth is a concern heading into the 2024 season.

“Depth is always a concern,” he said. “I think we have a solid starting core, but we’re going to experience missing one of those pieces early on, how we adjust to that is important.

“Any time you’re only carrying 13, it’s a concern,” noted Doane. “If someone is hurt, someone is sick, or someone is out of town, all the sudden we’re scrambling to patch things together.

“Experience is a big piece, too,” said Doane. “Off our bench, Kailey (Purvis) is new to the program, Kiya (Horton) is new to the school, and straight up from junior high ball, Bella (Gonzalez) missed some time last year, and Lecksie Douglas wasn’t a full-time varsity player last year.

“We’re not long of tooth in terms of experience,” added Doane.

One thing Doane is not concerned about is this team’s work ethic.

“These girls work so hard, that’s probably their biggest attribute,” he said. “I love that about this group.

“We asked them to do things, and they don’t question us as to why,” noted Doane. “They’re really buying in, and doing what we ask, and that’s impressive considering they have a new coach, and they’re in a new league.

“They’re all in, which is huge because I think it helps our development progress a little more quickly than people might expect,” he added.

In spite of being a first-year coach at Waverly, Doane said he’s familiar with the STAC and many of its coaches.

“I’ve always been familiar with the Southern Tier programs, and the STAC in particular, simply because I recruited it hard for so long,” said Doane. “And it was only a couple years ago when I was at Owego that we played these same teams.

“Chenango Valley and Susquehanna Valley are going to be tough. I know (Alexis) Durdon is back for Windsor, so they will be tough,” he noted. “Of course, Chenango Forks is going to be good with (coach) Ann Marie (Pagano) there, she is always good with her pitchers.

“I have a pretty good idea of what we’re getting into.

“I’m excited for the season, and I’m excited for the challenges,” added Doane. “I think this team is going to be up for the challenges presented to them, it’s just a matter of how we handle some of the ups-and-downs. If we can handle that adversity, I think we’ll be there in the end.

Waverly opens the 2024 campaign at home this afternoon against Norwich.


IN PHOTO: Waverly coach Brent Doane talks to his players prior to practice. … PHOTO BY TIM BIRNEY.

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