Softball: Raiders, Witches peaking at right time
Two softball teams that flew under the radar in the regular season are among the 10 that will be playing tonight for a place in the regional tournament.
Mechanicville, which ended a two-year run without a championship with a Class B title on Wednesday, meets Cohoes for the overall “B” title. Greenwich will be gunning for its fourth consecutive Class C crown when the 14-9 Witches play Western Athletic Conference champion Duanesburg in the Class C sectional championship game.
Those two games are among the five set for 5 p.m. starts at Clifton Common, with the winners moving into next week’s regional competition.
Mechanicville’s focus shifted this season after two Colonial Council losses to Cohoes.
“Since mid-season, our goal was to win sectionals,” said Mechanicville coach Don Arceneaux. “We didn’t care about the league title, once Cohoes beat us the second time, and we knew they weren’t going to lose to anyone else.”
Cohoes ran the table in the Colonial, and won the Class BB championship Wednesday. Mechanicville was winning the Class B crown on the adjacent field at Veeder Park at the same time.
“The first time we played them, at their place, it was 4-1. The second time it was 0-0 in the fifth. They had runners on first and third with two out, and the leadoff hitter came up, and we walked her intentionally to get to a kid who hadn’t hit us in two games, and she got a walk,” said Arceneaux. “That changed the whole game.”
Freshman Isabelle Dechiaro beat 17-4 Mechanicville both times, and is a major reason that Cohoes is 20-2.
“She’s fearless,” said Cohoes coach Frank Ryan, whose team picked up its first sectional championship since 2009 with Wednesday’s win.
Greenwich finished 7-7 in the Wasaren League, and was seeded seventh. Greg McGuirk’s 14-9 team took out the second and third seeds to reach the final.
“We’re playing well late in the season, and that’s what matters,” said McGuirk, who lost most of his starters from last year’s state semifinal team. “I tell the girls that the regular season is just practice for the postseason.”
Duanesburg had a perfect WAC season, and as the top seed, got to the finals with a 20-2 win over Schoharie and a 6-5 semifinal win over Waterford-Halfmoon that was won on Jenna Lees’ RBI double in the home seventh.
Lees, WAC MVP Rachel Gamache, Devon Hennel and Lia Schettine have led a potent Lady Eagles offense. Tori Powers and Sydney Foland give coach John Conway two solid pitchers.
Bethlehem takes a 13-9 record into the Class AA final with No. 2 seed Columbia. The teams split one-run decisions in the tough Suburban Council South.
“What I wanted to see was them improving all season,” said Bethlehem coach Karen Gentile of her fifth-seeded Lady Eagles, who eliminated defending champion Guilderland and top-seeded Shenendehowa to get to the final. “I’m not surprised it’s us and Columbia. The top five teams in our division are so strong.”
Columbia’s lineup is deep, beginning with Samara Perry and Samantha Hart. Five of the first six hitters in the 18-4 team’s lineup are hitting .340 or better.
In Wednesday’s 2-0 semifinal win over Colonie, freshman Jenna Hogan and 11th-grader Kay Kennedy drove in the runs.
“We’re getting production from the bottom of the lineup,” said Columbia coach Chris Ciccone. “I just hope we can continue going in this direction.”
Averill Park, another SC South club, and Big 10 champ Troy meet for the Class A title. The Lady Warriors broke a four-year postseason losing streak to South Glens Falls by beating the Lady Bulldogs, 5-1, in the semis. Troy went to 20-1 with its 18th straight win, a 3-0 victory over Queensbury. The Big 10 champs return most of the lineup from last year’s state semifinalist club.
The Class D final matches three-time defending champion Fort Ann and Loudonville Christian School, led by CHVL MVP Ange Stephano, a catcher with a big bat.