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High School Sports

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Covering Section II

School Notes: Merchant sets HR mark

Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake product Leanne Merchant closed out her softball career at St. John Fisher with a school-record 35 home runs after belting six this spring.

The power display was just part of a superb senior season for the catcher, who for the second time was selected a National Fastpitch Coaches Association Northeast Region and Empire 8 Conference first-team all-star. Merchant batted .379 (53-for-140) with nine doubles, 34 RBI and 28 runs scored while committing four errors behind the plate. She also walked 26 times and had a team-leading .483 on-base percentage.

Merchant set a St. John Fisher single-season record with 11 home runs as a sophomore and matched that as a junior while belting seven homers as a freshman. Sarah Fordyce broke the school record this spring with 13 home runs. Merchant also set school single-season records as a junior with 17 doubles and 47 RBI.

Merchant finished with a career .334 batting average and .430 on-base percentage, and totaled 38 doubles, 134 RBI and 302 total bases. The Cardinals won 126 games in her career, and went 35-14 this spring while winning the Empire 8 title and advancing to the NCAA Division III tournament.

The Cardinals were seeded No. 1 for the first time in an NCAA regional, and went 3-2 (third place).

A history and education major, Merchant made the Empire 8 Spring President’s List. She played five varsity seasons at Burnt Hills and made the all-state second team as a junior and senior. She also helped the Adirondack Region win a bronze medal at the 2010 Empire State Games.


Senior defensemen Tyler Olney of state Class A semifinalist Shenendehowa and Fitz McDonough of LaSalle Institute have been selected US Lacrosse Academic All-Americans. Olney, who has committed to Tufts, was previously honored as a Suburban Council first-team all-star. McDonough was tabbed a Big 10 first-team all-star. ...

Former Shaker High School and Siena College midfielder/attackman Steve Hart was recently inducted into the US Lacrosse Adirondack Chapter Hall of Fame. He was joined by Guilderland girls’ coach Gary Chatnik. A detailed story on Chatnik’s career will run in Saturday’s Gazette in the High School Notebook.


Clifton Park resident and Christian Brothers Academy graduate Connor Center is attending second semester summer classes at the University of Colorado while prepping to play football for the Division I Buffaloes.

The 6-foot-8, 250-pound Center stopped playing organized football five years ago in order to concentrate on baseball. Center said the death of his friend, Shenendehowa football standout Chris Stewart, in a December automobile mishap, swayed him to return to the gridiron sport.

Center sent out a workout tape (he has run a 4.68 40), and numerous college coaches expressed interest in having him join their football programs. Center made official visits to Syracuse, Miami and Colorado. He signed a letter of intent with Colorado in early June, and left for the school later that month.

Colorado has a new head coach in Mike MacIntyre. The Buffaloes went 1-11 last season, 1-8 in the Pac-12, and last finished above .500 eight years ago. The Buffaloes last won 10 games in 2001, and in 1990 were ranked No. 1 in the final AP poll. They went 11-1-1 that year after beating Notre Dame in the Orange Bowl, 10-9.

Center is listed as a tight end on the official Colorado roster, but could me moved to the offensive line.

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