OGDENSBURG — Shortly after Ogdensburg Free Academy’s final home softball game of the season, senior MaKenzi Stevenson was the final player on the diamond as she helped coach Storm Cilley gather up the equipment.
“Wow, I can’t believe this is the last time I will play for OFA on this diamond. It is kind of sad,” she said to Cilley, who was also walking off the field for the last home game of his 31-year coaching career after the Blue Devils downed Gouverneur to advance to the Section 10 Class B championship game.
The touch of sadness was only temporary.
Stevenson went to pitch one of the finest games ever as the Devils nipped edged Canton 1-0 and advanced the pitcher and the coach into the state tournament for career finales in a well-played 6-3 loss to Section 7 champion Saranac Central in a state regional game.
The victory over Canton also carried Stevenson into the school record books for most single-season wins with 13 and most career victories with 40.
In pitching the Devils to an NAC Central Division and Section 10 Class B crown, Stevenson crafted a 13-4 record with three shutouts, 15 complete games, a 2.18 ERA and limited opponents to a .210 batting average in 106 innings where she struck out 83 and she posted a .929 fielding average with 70 chances. Batting leadoff, she hit .265 with 24 hits, 12 RBIs, three doubles and five triples.
Stevenson’s senior season notes a third prestigious accolade as she is honored as the Northern Conference Most Valuable Player on the Times All-North Softball Team. Previously, she was honored by coaches as the NAC Central MVP and by the NNY Umpires Board as the recipient of the Dave “Huffer” Gebo Award, presented annually to a player exhibiting exceptional ability, leadership, sportsmanship and citizenship.
“MaKenzi is not an overpowering pitcher and she has worked very hard to improve as a pitcher and a hitter,” Cilley said.
“She batted leadoff for us the last two years and developed into a true leader. Confidence was big key this year, she just didn’t get rattled.”
Stevenson’s varsity career began as a freshman when she was called to the mound because of a hand injury to senior Ashley Wagstaff. Stevenson has started all but a handful of games in the last four seasons for OFA in the pitching-rich NAC Central Division. For three years, she matched up with Section 10 record-setter Kacie Wentworth of Canton, who now competes at NCAA Division I Sacred Heart University in Fairfield, Conn.
“I think the most important thing I learned from pitching against her (Wentworth) was locating pitches,” said Stevenson, who was first introduced to the windmill by her father, Jim Stevenson, and pitched overhand in the Kiwanis Youth Baseball Program until she was in sixth grade.
“This year, I developed more spin on my curve and my screwball. I pitched against some very good teams last summer while playing for coach Steve Besaw’s team in Gouverneur. I think that helped me a lot.”
Her level of play on the field was matched in the classroom where she ranked second in her class to fellow four-year varsity softball teammate Kori Bresett. Both student-athletes finished with 98-plus averages.
In the fall, Stevenson will attend LeMoyne College in Syracuse to major in biology, hoping to become a doctor.