Cayuga Health Simmons-RockwellTioga State Bank Dandy Mini Marts Valley Sports ReportGUTHRIE SPORTS MED Gannon Associates Williams Auto GroupI-R FCU


Valley Sports Report
WAVERLY — Longtime Waverly baseball coach Kyle McDuffee said his team is “focused” as it prepares for the 2024 season, and its first foray in the Southern Tier Athletic Conference after 35 years in the IAC.

The Wolverines, who finished the season at 17-4, were the second seed in last year’s Section IV, Class B playoffs, but were eliminated in the quarterfinals by seventh-seeded Lansing, which went on to play for a state title.

“I’m not sure last year’s lost is motivating us, but I will say this team is extremely focused, and practicing hard,” said McDuffee.

“The last few teams to beat us in Sectionals went on to win the Section,” he noted. “Last year, Lansing won the Section, and went all the way to the state finals. It was the same the year before.

“We have some goals, but we’re not talking goals right now. The guys are just focused on having solid practices, taking it one day at a time, and seeing where it goes.

“No one is talking about the postseason,” added McDuffee. “We’re just focused on winning each series.”

Freshman Ben Shaw will move into the catcher’s spot vacated by all-IAC catcher Ty Beeman.

“We lost our catcher, but Ben (Shaw) has gotten stronger,” said McDuffee. “We just scrimmaged U-E and he threw out two kids trying to steal. He’s going to be good back there.”

Freshman Matthias Welles will man first base, with senior Sean Bubniak seeing action there as well, while senior Jay Pipher starts at second base, with sophomore Ronin Ault backing him up, senior Joey Tomasso starts at shortstop, and senior Ethan Perry gets the nod at third base, with freshman Justin Koenig backing him up.

Sophomore Hogan Shaw will anchor the outfield in center field, with senior Jake VanHouten in right field, and 8th-grader Jack Pipher in left field.

Juniors Lincoln Sharpsteen and Jack Cheresnowsky will also vie for time in the outfield.

Like the IAC, the STAC has adopted the three-game series, and will play games on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, so McDuffee will have three pitchers scheduled to pitch the same day every week.

“That’s our plan,” said McDuffee. “It’s a lot like the college pitching schedule. It gives the guys the entire week to prepare for the start.

“If they can give me five or six innings, then I just need an inning from a reliever before we get to Jay (Pipher), our closer,” added McDuffee.

Ault will be the Monday starter for the Wolverines, while last year’s ace Bubniak will get the start Wednesday, and Perry, a four-year starter at Tioga, will get the nod on Fridays.

Sophomore Porter Daddona, Shaw, Welles, and Jack Pipher will pitch in relief, with Jay Pipher, who was second on the team in innings pitched last season, will serve as the closer.

“It gives us solid defense for the first six innings,” said McDuffee on moving Pipher to closer. “We won’t have to juggle our infield around when Jay starts.”

McDuffee likes the make-up of his roster.

“We’re kind of young, but not really,” he said. “We have two freshman, a sophomore, and an 8th-grader starting, but we also have four seniors … and on some days we could have six or seven seniors in the line-up.

“We have a good mix — a lot of experience, and young talent to go with it,” he noted.

McDuffee sees several strengths for this year’s team.

“I think the biggest strength with this team is our pitching, and the depth of our pitching,” he said. “I think our defense is going to be pretty good, too.

“And, the leadership with (Jay) Pipher and (Joey) Tomasso is tremendous,” added McDuffee. “They lead in the right way.”

McDuffee also likes the fact many of the players on the team are use to winning — coming off a state title in football, and a Section IV title in basketball.

“It’s been quite a ride for a lot of these guys,” he said. “They know how to win, and that’s a good thing.”

McDuffee’s only concern is the expectations being heaped on the team.

“Our biggest concern is the noise outside of our team,” said McDuffee.

“A lot of people think we should win this or that … these guys don’t need to be competing against what people think we should be winning,” he noted. “What they need to do is compete against the team we’re playing, and that’s all.

“Winning a Section IV title is not easy — it’s a challenge,” added McDuffee.

“It’s going to be tough,” said McDuffee. “Owego, Chenango Forks, and Oneonta are going to be tough … we’re playing the best of the best, and this is only going to help us.

“Playing a good opponent every night will prepare us for Sectionals,” he added.

“Lansing is the team to beat in Class B,” said McDuffee. “They only lost one senior, and they proved what they can do last year.”


“Waverly High School has done an outstanding job with its athletic facilities,” said McDuffee. “I am in awe of the new field. It’s better than most of the local college fields.

“And, I can tell you, the kids really appreciate that field,” he added.


IN PHOTO: Jay Pipher (left), Sean Bubniak (top right), and Joey Tomasso. … VSR STOCK PHOTOS.

You've asked about helping ...
here's your chance. Click HERE