Of all the road trips Larry Lash has made in his softball coaching career the one he took this summer will resonate with him the rest of his life. The retired Wilson coach recently drove to Herkimer where he was inducted into the inaugural New York State Softball Hall of Fame. He was accompanied by family and friends, including his children, Lindsay Lash-Bridenbaker and Brad Lash, who introduced him. Lash was the first and only inductee from Section VI among the Class of 16.
Lash started coaching high school softball at Wilson in 1975, the first year of interscholastic softball for girls in Section VI. He played a significant role in the growth and promotion of the sport from its beginning. “I have been coaching the game of softball for 38 years. Clearly the game grabbed an early hold on me and is still tugging,” he said. “There have been some incredible highs and lows, and the game has taught me to accept them with grace and class. Softball has taught me that the greatest things in life aren’t things. The greatest things are the way my family supported me, and the coaches and players who surrounded me, challenged me, and made me a better coach.”
Lash said one of his fondest memories is the sights and sounds of the Wilson fire truck escorting his team into town at 1 a.m. after winning the 1986 State Championship in Binghamton. “The streets were lined and the parking lot was full. I don’t think I’ll ever forget the look of pride, realization and excitement in the eyes of my players,” he said.
Lash retired from Wilson in 2008 after 33 seasons. He spent three seasons in North Tonawanda, the last two as head coach. His overall record of 462-262 includes 330-116 in the Niagara-Orleans League. Under Lash, the Lakewomen won the 1986 Class C state title, were runners up in 1987 and a final four team in 2001. Wilson won six Section VI titles and nine N-O crowns. In May of 2008 the softball field was named in his honor. In September of 2011, he was inducted into the Wilson Hall of Fame.
GIRLS VOLLEYBALL: Two Western New York players are taking their games to the beach. Alex Brown, 16, who will be a senior at Grand Island and Lainy Pierce, 15, an incoming junior at Eden, are headed to Milwaukee for the Junior National Beach Volleyball Championships on July 28-29. With Brown’s height and athletic ability at the net and Pierce’s defensive game, and hard to return serve, this duo has a chance to place high nationally in the 18-under division.
LACROSSE: Spring Sanders and Julia DiTondo of Nichols and Brendan Barren of Wets Seneca, Joshua Babcock and maximus Maxwell of Hamburg will represent Western New York this week at the Champion All-American Showcase, a US Lacrosse event. They are among 200 of the nation’s premier players who will play in showcase games as part of the ESPNHS Games in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. The girls championship will stream live at 1 p.m. on Tuesday on ESPN3 while the boys championship game will be played at 1 p.m. on Friday and aired on ESPNU at 7 that evening.
Sanders of Nichols will play for Team Liberty while DiTondo, also of Nichols, will play for Team Pride. The girls showcase features a four-team round-robin among a field of 84 players from 30 states. Teams will compete in three pool-play games before championship and consolation games are played July 24, which will stream live at 1 p.m. on ESPN3.
Barren is on Team Freedom, Babcock on Team Liberty and Maximus Maxwell on Team Pride in round-robin format with the championship game scheduled for 1 p.m. on Friday and slated to air on ESPNU later that evening at 7.
FOOTBALL: Canisius High School has announced that offensive lineman Ryan Hunter has verbally committed to Bowling Green of the Mid-American Conference. The 6-foot-5, 320-pound Hunter will be a senior in the fall for the Crusaders.
BASEBALL: Pitcher Blair Lakso of Frontier has signed a national letter of intent with St. Bonaventure. Lakso batted nearly .500 from the No. 3 spot in the lineup and hit 90 miles per hour on the radar gun from the mound. The Falcons finished with 12-9 record, which ended in a 7-3 loss to eventual Section VI champion Lancaster in te sectional quarterfinals.
Lakso will follow in the footsteps of his father, Bruce Lakso, former football coach at Lackawanna and a St. Bonaventure alumnus. Blair said its always been a dream of his to play an NCAA Division I sport. He described the campus as beautiful and was encouraged by the direction the baseball program is going. He’ll play first base and pitch for the Bonnies.
GOLF: The Lancaster Elks/Trench Trophy Charity Golf Tournament is Aug. 4 and Kis-N-Greens Golf Course on North Road in Alden. Donation is $75 per golfer and includes golf, cart, lunch, dinner, prizes and a Chinese auction. The format is a four-person best ball scramble with a shotgun start at 1 p.m. To register call Carl Kuras at 698-1893 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
SOCCER: A boys youth and modified school prep soccer camp will be held from 8:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m. July 30-Aug. 3 at the EMW Soccer Development Club, 7100 Seneca St., Elma. The camp is targeted for boys of ages 11-14, either trying out for their junior high school or high school modified or JV team in the fall, and others wanting to sharpen their skills going into fall tryouts. Cost is $95. Call Jim Dickinson at 955-0847. … Registrations are being accepted for the Fall Soccer league. Camp will take place Aug. 25 at Niagara Falls High school and will be a 4 vs. 4 development camp. Visit www.niagara-soccer.org or call 283-7715 for more information.
--- Mary Jo Monnin