Warriors’ winning streak at 12

Putting a young team in a pressure-packed situation is usually a recipe for disaster.



Putting a young team in a pressure-packed situation is usually a recipe for disaster.

Unless, of course, the precoc­ious players compete with a confidence and swagger far beyond their years.

The Niskayuna softball team, with a roster that includes five sophomores and four freshmen, including standout pitcher Rachel Annello, pushed across a run in the bottom of the 10th inning Tuesday to turn back Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake, 4-3, in a Suburban Council game and extend its winning streak to 12 games.

“This was a big win for us,” said Silver Warriors head coach Dave Foucault. “I think we showed what we’re capable of today, even though we’re so young.”

The 10th inning was a microcosm of the Silver Warriors’ season — Annello was at her best, and the Warriors got a big hit when they needed it most.

Through tiebreaker rules, the Spartans started the top of the inning with Nyisha Vedder on second, and she advanced to third when Niskayuna catcher Kiersten Gray bobbled a pitch from


But Annello, who has a no-hitter, two one-hitters and two two-hitters to her credit this season, recorded her 11th and 12th strikeouts of the game to end the inning.

Niskayuna only needed one batter in the bottom of the 10th to end the game. Emily O’Donnell, another of Niskayuna’s fabulous freshmen, hit a sharp ground ball that glanced off the glove of Spartans pitcher Katie Filak and rolled into center field, and Megan Price, who started the inning on second base, easily beat the throw to the plate.

The win pushed Niskayuna’s Suburban Council record to 13-2 and its overall mark to 19-2, while the Spartans fell to 7-6 and 12-8.

“I’ve got no complaints,” said Spartans coach Allison Bernardi. “This was a great game, and hopefully, it will help get us mentally prepared for the sectionals.

“Someone had to lose. Unfort­unately, it was us.”

But losing to Niskayuna has become a trend this season. The Silver Warriors’ only two losses were to Shenendehowa and Shaker, and both of those setbacks came in a 10-day span in mid-April.

“We didn’t want to come into the year overconfident, but we thought we had a pretty good team, and that we could get it done,” said Niskayuna assistant coach Joe

Annello, Rachel’s father.

Rachel Annello finished with a three-hitter, but got herself in trouble in the top of the sixth, when the Silver Warriors were sitting on a 2-1 lead.

After getting the first two outs of the inning, Annello issued back-to-back walks, and Victoria Palleschi

followed with an RBI single to center. The throw from Niskayuna center fielder Joanna Clark pulled Gray up the third-base line, and by the time she got a handle on the ball, Leanne Merchant had also crossed the plate to give the Spartans a 3-2 lead.

But the Silver Warriors tied the game with a two-out rally in the bottom of the seventh. Clark worked Filak for a walk and Price singled to left to put runners on first and second.

O’Donnell singled to center, and Joe Annello, coaching at third, waved Price home. Merchant, who had homered to straightaway center field in the first inning to give the Spartans a quick 1-0 lead, blocked the plate as she waited for the throw, but Price did a half-slide/half-collide, and reached out to touch the plate to tie the game.

“We never quit,” said Foucault with a smile after the game.

The Silver Warriors hit Filak

solidly all day, finishing with 10 hits, including an RBI double by Price in a two-run fifth inning, but Filak was sharp when she had to be, stranding eight Niskayuna runners as she recorded nine strikeouts, four of which ended innings.

O’Donnell, Niskayuna’s No 3 hitter, finished with three singles and two RBI; Price, the leadoff hitter, had a double, two singles and an RBI; and Molly O’Donnell had a single and a double.

The Silver Warriors play at Schen­ectady today and end the regular season with a home game against Mohonasen on Thursday, but this is a team that doesn’t want to rest on its regular-season laurels.

“I want Shen,” said Joe Annello. “But we’ve got to beat some good teams to get them. Columbia is

going to be tough, Colonie is going to be tough. They’re all going to be tough”

“We’ve still got some things to work on,” said Foucault, whose team has regularly been scoring seven or eight runs a game this season. “But we’re going to try to take it to another level.”

BH-BL 100 002 000 0 —  3  3 1

Niskayuna 000 020 100 1 — 4 10 1

Filak and Merchant; Annello and Gray.

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