All The Way Back: Wells goes from no team to division champs

WELLS – After not having fielded a team two seasons ago, the Wells baseball team has enjoyed its finest season in several years.

The Indians are 10-2 on the season, winning the Mountain and Valley Athletic Conference Southern Division.

The title was the first league crown for Wells since winning the 1983-83 Marcy League championship.

“The team’s goal was to win at least the division title,” Wells coach Bob Stoddard said. ” We might surpass that. We have a reasonable shot at doing well in sectionals.”

The Indians earned the fourth seed for the Section VII Class D Tournament, and are scheduled to host fifth-seeded Moriah today at 4 p.m.

The winner will play in Tuesday’s semifinals at Chazy, which blanked eighth-seeded Westport in Friday’s quarterfinals.

Stoddard, who is in his eighth year as Wells coach and has 410 career wins to his credit, said that this year’s team has been an enjoyable group to coach.

“This is a group of pretty good kids,” Stoddard said. “This is the 42nd year I’ve coached, in all the years I’ve coached, this is one of the nicest teams I’ve had.”

Stoddard coached for more than 30 years at Letchworth High School in Section V, piling up 13 league titles and 392 wins at the school.

Stoddard coached the Indians for five seasons before low numbers forced the team to the sidelines for the 2009 and 2010 seasons.

Wells returned to the field in 2011, compiling a 2-7 record before posting a 4-7 mark last season. The Indians lost in last year’s Section VIII Class D Tournament to Indian Lake-Long Lake.

This year’s Wells squad is led by a group of seven seniors, five of whom have been with the team since its return in 2011.

Jake Earley, Caleb Hayes, James Hoffman, Seth Hutchins and Jared Jennings have all played key roles for the Indians this season as they have helped the team reach the 10-win mark. Seniors Blaine Elmendorf and Steve Mayer have also played a role in Wells’ success.

Hayes, along with Seth Weaver, have helped the Indians with strong efforts on the mound as each went 5-1 during the regular season.

“These kids have worked very hard. They have a good work ethic at practice,” Stoddard said. “They have good communication with each other and they all know their roles.”

Playing a limited regular-season schedule of just 12 games put experience at a premium for Wells.

“It’s a different type of baseball here,” Stoddard said. “When I coached at Letchworth, we faced a lot of competition and played lot more games.”

Wells also faces challenges each year in its efforts to prepare for the season.

“They only have one gym here,” Stoddard said. “There’s not a lot of space, so we have to be creative as far as indoor practices go.”

Despite the limited number of games and space limitations, Stoddard said his team has been willing to put in the necessary work to be successful.

“They give me whatever I need. They leave it all on field every day,” he said. “They make mistakes, but they comeback from those mistakes and just pick up where they left off.”

Wells’ only losses this season have come against Chazy and Crown Point, the No. 1 and No. 3 seeds in the Section VII Class D Tournament.

The Indians lost 15-0 at home to Chazy on May 3 and dropped a 2-0 decision at Crown Point on April 22 in their season opener.

“We had kind of a tough day against Chazy, but we were right there with Crown Point,” Stoddard said. “I think we can compete with both of them.”

Wells hasn’t played since May 20 when it rolled to an 18-5 win over Johnsburg in its regular-season finale. With the win, the Indians finished 8-0 in MVAC South Division play this season.

“We’ve had a good season,” Stoddard said. “We’re hoping we can make a run in sectionals.”