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Softball: Young Knights surprise Sabres

Thursday, May 24, 2012
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Amanda Methe of Notre Dame-Bishop Gibbons slides safely into 2nd base as Schalmont's Rachel Peek awaits the throw from the outfield Wednesday.
Photographer: Peter R. Barber
Amanda Methe of Notre Dame-Bishop Gibbons slides safely into 2nd base as Schalmont's Rachel Peek awaits the throw from the outfield Wednesday.

— Amanda Methe was left nearly speechless.

Moments earlier, she had taken part in something that she never dreamed possible, and no one could remember happening in school history. But there it was on the scoreboard at Schalmont High School — a 6-3 score in favor of Notre Dame-Bishop Gibbons.

In a sectional softball game.

“It’s unbelievable,” said Methe, the lone senior Lady Knights’ starter who took the field with six freshman Wednesday in her school’s first postseason softball game since 2006. “It’s really hard to put into words right now.”

The Lady Knights, seeded ninth in Class B despite their 9-2 record in the Big 10 and 10-3 overall record, used three first-inning runs to jump out to a 3-0 lead on No. 8 seed Schalmont, and doubled their lead before pitcher Joelle Salisbury worked out of trouble in the late innings.

Methe took it all in from her position at first base, remembering the years that her team struggled to win games. When playing in the postseason — much less winning — was almost too much to dream.

“This is a lot better feeling,” she said, hiding tears behind sunglasses. “I almost can’t believe this is happening.”

Photo by Peter R. Barber

Notre Dame-Bishop Gibbons pitcher Joelle Salisbury warms up before the first inning against Schalmont Wednesday.

Second baseman Lilly Maggs led off the game with a long double, and after Schalmont starter Katerina Miley struck out the next two batters, Salisbury stroked an RBI single.

Anna Grace Maggs, the only 11th-grader in the Bishop Gibbons lineup, followed with an RBI double, and she went on to score on a misplayed fly ball.

“I said to them, ‘It took the music out of the air,’ ” said Bishop Gibbons co-coach Doug Holden. “We come here, Schalmont is playing at home, and we kind of quieted everything down.”

Salisbury faced the minimum of nine hitters through three innings. Her catcher and twin sister, Alyssa, threw out Miley trying to steal after she led off the second with a bloop single.

Salisbury struck out the side in order in the third and finished with 10 strikeouts against a lone walk.

Her teammates got her three more runs in the fourth, with her sister leading off with a single, and Lilly Maggs driving in two runs with a single.

“We’ve been counting on the freshmen more and more,” said co-coach Steve Keohan. “It showed in that fourth inning, when the bottom of the order got it rolling. It was all them.”

The extra runs came in handy when Schalmont scored twice in the sixth and once in the seventh.

“It’s kind of scary, being a ninth-grader,” said Joelle Salisbury, who with her sister, transferred from Mohonasen and is part of the freshman infusion. “But I know every time the ball is hit, they’ll get it.”

“Every game, you’re going to have an inning like that,” said Holden of Schalmont’s sixth, when the Lady Sabres used some bunts and their speed to try to rattle Bishop Gibbons. “The way they responded was awesome.”

Schalmont had beaten the Lady Knights, 2-0, earlier in the season, and Bishop Gibbons was not the team Lady Sabres coach Eric Lybrand wanted to draw to open the postseason

“We played them once and scrimmaged them twice. We were hoping to see someone we hadn’t played,” said Lybrand, an ND-BG graduate. “At the same time, they had seen us, too.

“I think we didn’t catch life until late. Our motto all year had been that it’s not how you start, but how you finish. And I’m proud of them, because in my mind, they finished.

“We came up short, but we finished the game. We didn’t go down without a fight. But Bishop Gibbons is riding a nice wave. They’re for real.”

Bishop Gibbons, which still needs to play winless Bishop Maginn to earn a three-way share of the Big 10 title, advances to play at No. 1 seed Chatham on Friday.

“This is fun. It’s exciting. The possibilties are endless,” said Anna Grace Maggs, who, with her sister, was playing at Schenectady last spring.

“It’s always in your mind, like a dream, tying for the Big 10 champ­ionship and then getting to the sectionals and not getting creamed in the first round. This is like a dream come true.”

Bishop Gibbons 300 300 0 — 6 10 4

Schalmont 000 002 1 — 3  5 3

J.Salisbury and A.Salisbury; Miley, Mahar (4) and McLaughlin.

 
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