Cybart, Hanlon among the best in Western New York

OBSERVER File Photos Pictured at left is Dunkirk shortstop Emilee Hanlon. At right is Fredonia’s Hannah Cybart. Both were named to the 2017 All-Western New York softball teams.

For the second season in a row, Fredonia’s Hannah Cybart has been named First Team All-Western New York softball.

Cybart made the first team on the back of her prowess within the pitcher’s circle. This season, Cybart had a record of 14-1 overall and 11-0 within the league. In 104 innings pitched, she struck out 107 batters, allowed 58 hits and surrendered just nine walks while posting an earned run average of 0.61.

“This is the second year in a row for her, which is a testament to her hard work,” Fredonia coach Joe Pucciarelli said. “Her and her sister Caitlyn are both very dedicated. They spent many mornings driving to Buffalo for pitching and catching while playing up and down the east coast year-round.

“Hannah is a lot like Larry Bird. She’s not the most talented in terms of raw physical talent. But like Larry Bird, she’s just smarter and more determined than who she played against.”

Hannah Cybart began her varsity career as a do-it-all freshman prior to being the team’s star pitcher. She earned the nickname “Slash” for her versatility on the diamond, playing pitcher, second base, third base and outfield. Her transition to star pitcher was well thought out by her coaching staff. Bailey Tarnowski was a rock in the circle during Hannah Cybart’s first two seasons, which allowed Fredonia to pick and choose when she was used.

In the end, the slow approach paid off as Hannah Cybart went from utility player to one of the best players in Western New York, finishing her career with an overall record of 42-3 while going a perfect 25-0 in league play.

Dunkirk Marauder’s Emilee Hanlon, on top of a terrific spring season in both softball and track and field, has now added a spot on the All-WNY small schools team to her growing list of accolades.

This past season from the plate, Hanlon recorded a .458 batting average, totaling 17 hits in just the 15 games she played this season. She had an on-base-percentage of .544, 21 runs scored and 12 stolen bases in her junior year of varsity softball.

“It’s absolutely wonderful that Emilee was nominated,” Dunkirk coach Michelle Poweski said. “Both Emilee and Hannah Cybart represent our area so well. Compared to the Buffalo schools, it’s definitely an honor because a lot of the times were not represented as well as we should be. … It’s fantastic for our league and for our Chautauqua-Cattaraugus County area.”

At shortstop, Hanlon was Jeter-esq defensively, with a fielding percentage of .930. However, also like Jeter, Poweski appreciates Hanlon’s leadership just as much as her performance on the diamond.

“She’ll be a great senior leader, it definitely helps our team, Poweski replied. “It kind of sets are team apart from other teams, having her leadership. … Emilee works hard in all the sports she’s in, and she really puts in a lot of time and effort. … Honestly, I’m honored to coach a player like her. I’m really looking forward to next year, with her and all the other girls.”

Though the All-WNY team is just an honorary squad, Poweski imagined what it’d be like to face a team with Cybart in the circle with Hanlon backing her up at shortstop.

“Oh my goodness,” Poweski laughed. “I feel like you put Emilee behind any pitcher it’s going to be great. So, to put her with a pitcher as great as Hannah Cybart — their team would definitely be unstoppable. It would definitely be–definitely be a tough team to beat.”

Unilke Cybart, Hanlon enters into 2018 as a senior. The Dunkirk standout has an entire year ahead of her, and next year, she just might make the All-WNY team outright, rather than just be representing the “small schools”.

“(On being a future All-WNY honoree) Absolutely. … The bar’s kind of been set (higher), so I think with a stronger team behind her … I think that she’ll definitely get that praise,” Poweski predicted.

Cybart and Hanlon both are strong representatives for our Section VI schools. Coming from rivals, both of them demonstrated strength, determination and a will power to drive themselves down the path towards greatness. For one, their high school career. The other, one more year. Regardless, both their stories are just beginning to unfold.