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Thursday, May 4, 2017: Watson to A&M; Messere sets retirement date

   Leading off today: The rich get richer.

   Already one of the nation's most successful track and field programs, Texas A&M landed a huge prize Thursday when Sammy Watson announced at a noontime ceremony that she had committed to the Aggies.

   The Rush-Henrietta senior holds national high school indoor records in the 600 (1:27.13), 800 (2:01.78) and 1,000 meters (2:40.72). Her mark in the 800 this season broke a record that Mary Decker had held since 1974.

   Watson, 17, took official visits to A&M, LSU and Southern Cal. Arkansas, where her sister Ceara Watson competes, was also in the recruiting mix.

   Watson's versatility -- she has twice pulled off 400/1,500 doubles at the NYSPHSAA outdoor championships and was a consistently high finisher in sectional and state cross country meets the past two seasons -- promises to help A&M remain in the national championship conversation. The Aggies have won four NCAA Division I women's outdoor titles in 12 seasons under Pat Henry and have finished in the top five 10 straight seasons.

   With Watson's decision now official, several dominoes on the national recruiting scene should fall quickly as the other finalists for her services are free to allocate scholarship money that they had been holding in reserve for Watson.

   (I'll be going off the grid for a day, so be sure to check Thursday and Friday for additional reporting from Jeff DiVeronica, who's sure to have some fascinating details about the process that saw Watson ultimately choose A&M.)

   Fifty and out: Mike Messere will complete his 50th season with West Genesee schools and his 43rd season coaching the boys lacrosse team a little more than a year from now. On Wednesday, he told that 2018 will be his last season on the sideline.

   Messere, 73, the winningest lacrosse coach in U.S. high school history, said he and his wife Barbara came to the decision about a year ago and that he's informed school officials of his plans.

   Messere, who's been retired from teaching or several years, took over the Wildcats program as head coach in 1976. His record is 823-81 with 15 NYSPHSAA championships and eight runner-up finishes. The turf field behind the high school is named in his honor, and Messere has been inducted into the National Lacrosse Hall of Fame and the National High School Hall of Fame.

   What a day: Marcellus freshman catcher Evelyn Webster had an absurd day at the plate Wednesday, hitting for the cycle during a 5-for-5 day and driving in 11 runs in five innings of an 18-2 win over Hannibal.

   It was the latest in a strong of recent monster performances in New York softball. Late last month, Blind Brook junior Julia Bucci tied the presumed NYSPHSAA record when she drove in 12 runs in a game, The Journal News reported. A few days later, Panas senior Danielle Petrovich hit two grand slams and a solo homer to drive in nine runs in a game.

   "I can't recall a player hitting for the cycle like that before. Even if we've been close, it has not been with that many RBI. She was just clutch," 20th-year Mustangs coach Lisa MacLachlan told

   Said Webster: "I didn't realize how many RBI I had until we run-ruled (Hannibal). When we were reading out the stats


afterwards and they said I had 11 RBI, I freaked out."

   More softball: Lancaster defeated Orchard Park 4-1 in the first of two meetings over three days between the state-ranked Section 6 teams. Orchard Park is No. 5 and Lancaster No. 6 in Class AA this week. (Full rankings here.)

   Kara Paradowski drove in two runs and scored twice. Jenna Patterson earned the win, throwing a seven-hitter with three strikeouts.

   Baseball: Albany CBA rolled to its sixth straight victory with a 12-5 win that snapped Niskayuna's 10-game winning streak.

   Next up for CBA is a Thursday game vs. Saratoga (13-2).

   "This is probably one of the toughest weeks of our schedule," CBA outfielder Nick Melillo told The Times Union. "We played a scrappy Mohonasen team and got a walk-off win against them. We came out today and hit the ball. We've got another big one (Thursday). We have to put this win behind us."

   Girls lacrosse milestones: Two Section 1 standouts reached big round numbers Wednesday.

   Taylor Regan scored the 300th goal of her career for Rye Country Day during an 18-8 win vs. Long Island Lutheran. The Virginia-bound senior finished with six goals and three assists.

   Maggie Dymes scored her 200th career goal in Croton's 10-9 overtime victory over Westlake.

   A good read: Madison Allen, believed to be the first girl to pitch for a Section 1 varsity baseball team, is now 2-0 in two starts with 17 strikeouts in 12 innings pitched.

   Allen is a freshman on the Yonkers Montessori Academy team.

   "Her velocity is not overpowering, but kids aren't used it," coach Spike DiMartino told The Journal News. "She's consistent with throwing strikes."

   DiMartino has picked his spots when it comes to giving Allen innings, but she's responded to the challenge each time. Allen made her first start April 21 against Palisade Prep, and she struck out the first five batters that she faced. She allowed one earned run over five innings with eight strikeouts for the win.

   You can get the story on her path into varsity baseball here.

   Extra points: Linderhurst junior Jeremy Ruckert, well on his way to becoming one of the most heavily recruited New York football players in a decade, says he has a top four of Michigan, Notre Dame, Ohio State and Wisconsin.

   Ruckert is looking to commit before he begins his senior year.

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