Softball: Corning makes history with 8-2 win over Fairport in Class AAA state championship (2024)

Softball: Corning makes history with 8-2 win over Fairport in Class AAA state championship (1)

BROOKHAVEN - There's a motto to live by in Corning's softball program: "Pressure is a privilege."

Winning a state championship is surely a privilege, too.

The Hawks hardly seemed scared or nervous throughout the weekend when playing on New York high school softball's biggest stage, the NYSPHSAA Final Four. They finished their trip to Long Island and an impressive 2024 season with an emphatic 8-2 victory over Section 5's Fairport to capture the first-ever Class AAA state championship.

"It's super exciting," Corning senior Sophia Polzella, a Hofstra commit, said. "We've been working for it for a long time. Personally, I've been working for it since seventh grade, when Corning came here last time (in 2019). It's been super challenging, but also, it's so exciting."

Softball: Corning makes history with 8-2 win over Fairport in Class AAA state championship (2)

Much like their state semifinal game the previous day, the Hawks entered Saturday's finale at the Martha Avenue Recreational Park loose and unafraid.

Everyone was ready to rise to the occasion, as the Hawks racked up 16 hits as a unit and had seven players register at least one hit. Defensively, they got big plays at various points of the game from all areas of the field.

In the circle, Corning sophom*ore Matti Johnston held things down. She also had a no-hit bid going into the sixth inning. With everyone chipping in and delivering, it felt like the perfect definition of a team win, as they came together as a squad for their crowning moment.

"Matti worked hard and our entire lineup did what they needed to do," New Haven-bound Corning senior Peyton Sullivan said. "Every position, we had amazing plays from everybody. There was no doubt in my mind that we were going to win.

"It's an amazing way to close out. I have no complaints. It's very emotional and bittersweet. Sad that it's over, but so, so happy. ... It's unbelievable. I'm on cloud nine, I don't have words and I'm honestly speechless. It's such a great experience."

The only pressure Corning ever felt was the expectations and high standards it had placed on itself, even going way before the first swings and pitches of the 2024 season.

"I said it last year after we won the sectional championship and got beat in the regionals, that we would win the state title the next year, and I think a lot of people thought I was foolish, but I just had that much confidence in our kids," said Corning coach Mike Johnston, who prophetically envisioned the Hawks' championship moment. "I knew they would go to work. The high school season is such a short season. It's a little over three months, so you have very little time. It's getting your kids to buy into your culture, what you do as far as your system, and we got some coaches on board that are very invested in being a part of it."

Softball: Corning makes history with 8-2 win over Fairport in Class AAA state championship (3)

Corning lived up to the motto it preaches throughout its program and came ready to play in Saturday's state championship game.

The Hawks set the tone early by grabbing an early 2-0 lead in the top of the first inning. They maintained pressure and kept getting runners on base, until they got a big breakthrough in the fifth inning.

Corning scored four runs in the top of the fifth to pad its lead to 6-0 and begin to pull away.

Even as Fairport finally got on the board and got its first hits of the game in the bottom of the sixth, the Hawks remained unfazed and immediately responded with two final runs in the top of the seventh to extend their lead into the bottom of the seventh.

They closed it out from there.

"I was confident, I wasn't nervous today," Corning pitcher Matti Johnston said. "I was confident in my team, and I knew we could make it. Everybody did their role and we completed it."

Softball: Corning makes history with 8-2 win over Fairport in Class AAA state championship (4)

What it means

Corning wins the inaugural Class AAA state championship. It is the program's second state title, with the other coming in 2019, when the Hawks were in Class AA.

The Hawks' 8-2 victory on Saturday marked their highest margin of victory in the 2024 postseason.

Softball: Corning makes history with 8-2 win over Fairport in Class AAA state championship (5)

Player of the game

Matti Johnston, Corning-Painted Post: Contributions came from all over the Hawks' lineup in their state championship-crowning moment, but a tip of the cap to the sophom*ore pitcher, who took care of business at the plate and in the circle. Johnston had a no-hit bid going until the sixth inning. She had no earned runs and allowed two hits, while striking out four batters and issuing only one walk. Johnston also went 2-for-4 with a triple, RBI and two runs scored.

"It was — these seniors deserve to win and this is a once in a lifetime opportunity, so let's just win it for them today," she said of her mindset and approach, when taking the field for Saturday's state final.

Softball: Corning makes history with 8-2 win over Fairport in Class AAA state championship (6)

By the numbers

Section 4's Corning-Painted Post (14-6): Peyton Sullivan went 4-for-4 with a double, RBI and three runs scored. Lauren DeRosa went 3-for-4 with a triple and two RBIs. Sophie Schoonover was 2-for-4 with a double, two RBIs and a run. Sophia Polzella had a RBI triple and scored a run. Kayleigh Sparks and and Emelia Smith each had two hits.

Section 5's Fairport (13-10): Nicole Allen broke up the no-hit bid with a grounder up the middle midway through the sixth inning. Waverly Milliman also had a hit and a RBI. The Red Raiders scored their other run on an error.

They said it

"We joke about it — that we came down here, and it was so blue collar. We came down six hours in a yellow school bus. People talked about being comfortable and whatnot. We pull in, and everybody's got a coach bus, a limo bus, and we're the highest classification. We just did what we needed to do, and I'm really proud of them. Last night was probably the closest our team has ever been collectively. We had a great Italian dinner and they had a DJ. The kids danced, had fun, and they were really loose and had a great night's sleep, so everything just fell into place for us." -Corning coach Mike Johnston

"We're pretty tight. We like to go out and eat some food together just to keep our bond going, and have little pitcher-catcher dates here and there, and it's super fun." -Corning catcher Sophia Polzella on her synergy with Johnston and how they're so in-sync as pitcher and catcher

"We work really well together as a team. We have our ups and downs, but at the end of the day, once we step on that field — whatever drama's going on, whatever emotions we're feeling towards anybody or anything that happened at school — we let it go and we play together as one. We have each other's backs all the time. This game is about teamwork, bouncing off people and picking people up, and that's what we do." -Corning senior Peyton Sullivan

Follow Eugene Rapay on Twitter at@erapay5and on Instagram at@byeugenerapay.

Softball: Corning makes history with 8-2 win over Fairport in Class AAA state championship (2024)


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