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July 3, 2009

In a class by herself


In describing Bostelman, Jessie Winans said: "I think her knowledge of the game and the fact that she puts 110 percent into the game, she's just so focused. She's so good as a coach and she puts all of her life into the game of softball. Softball is her family and she couldn't live without it."

As for Oneonta, turnaround seasons don't get much better than the one the Yellowjackets had in 2009.

At first glance, their 13-9 record might not seem that impressive. But when one factors the league in which Oneonta plays and the struggles the program has endured for decades, it's big.

Over the previous two seasons, the Yellowjackets won a combined five Southern Tier Athletic Conference games _ four of those coming against a downtrodden Norwich program.

This season, however, OHS knocked off defending Class B state champion Windsor, twice beat perennial Class C power Seton Catholic Central and also had wins against Johnson City, Whitney Point and Chenango Forks during the regular season _ teams it has had almost no success against since re-joining STAC in 2002.

The Yellowjackets went 8-6 in STAC, annually one of the strongest softball conferences in the state.

"It was certainly very big for us," third-year coach Brockway said. "Originally, I thought .500 was a realistic goal. We just worked hard and started winning some games we didn't realize were possible. The girls practiced hard and worked together. It was a pleasant surprise and a pleasure to watch them."

But the signature victory came in a Section Four Class B quarterfinal against Susquehanna Valley on June 2. Against a squad that had won six Class B state titles since 1996 and a team that defeated the Jackets twice during the regular season by a combined 13-1, third-year varsity pitcher Lesley Harlem _ a fifth-team all-state selection in Class B _ threw a five-hitter in a 3-1 victory.

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