By CURTIS SEAMAN
Special to the Express
MINERVA -- A record broken just last year by former MVAC softball player Kylee Cassavaugh of Elizabethtown-Lewis was broken again this season by a Mountain & Valley Athletic Conference softball player.
Cassavaugh had the New York state steals record with 146, but Dakota Bennett, a senior shortstop and lead-off hitter for the Minerva-Newcomb Mountaineers, captured the record April 25 against the North Warren Cougars when she recorded four steals, bringing her career total to 164.
With her lightening quick speed Bennett is on pace for at least 45 steals this season, and that is not the only area in which she excels. Her batting average this season is .394 with an on base percentage of .705.
Bennett recorded 38 steals in her freshman year, 42 in her sophomore year and in her junior year had 45. With 39 steals this season, she has a chance to put some distance between Cassavaugh and herself.
The Mountaineers won its last game 19-1 over the Johnsburg Jaguars. Bennett recorded three steals.
Minerva-Newcomb's record is 12-1 with the team's only loss coming to last year's Section VII champ, the Crown Point Panthers.
"I just can't believe it," Bennett said. "I'm still thinking I have to steal a certain number of bases a game. But now that I have the record I'm really happy and proud of myself."
Coach Bruce McGinn said the team's goal this season is to dethrone last season's Section VII Class D champions, the Crown Point Panthers, which the Mountaineers fell to last year in the title game. The Mountaineers begin its sectional journey May 26 against the Elizabethtown-Lewis Lions.
The Mountaineers won the regular season match-up against the Lions and will look to do it again Monday. From there Bennett and the Mountaineers will continue their quest to reach the Section VII championship once again, but this time walk home with a victory.