Eagles seize opportunity, win softball title

Alert baserunning leads to the only run as Duanesburg wins its fourth straight Section II softball t

Both teams knew Wednesday’s Section II Class C softball game would probably turn on one play.

Neither Duanesburg nor Can­aj­oharie, though, could have envis­ioned the pivotal play in the Eagles’

1-0 win at Clifton Common that gave them their fourth straight sectional crown.

The central character, in fact, had a hard time believing what transpired in the bottom of the sixth inning, as Alyson Sanders advanced two bases on a foulout behind third base, then scored the game’s only run one pitch later when eighth-grader Dani Hennel ripped a line- drive single to left.

“When I saw her fall over, I was going to second. Then she wasn’t getting up, and I was thinking I could make it,” said Sanders as she rewound the play that began with Canajoharie third baseman Allison Limoncelli falling to the ground in foul territory after making a tough catch on Beth Smith’s popup.

As Limoncelli’s teammates gathered to congratulate her and/or check on her condition, Sanders noticed no one was covering third base.

“I was hanging between bases, and I saw the third baseman wasn’t there,” said the 11th-grader. “It was going to be a race to the bag to see who gets there first.”

Duanesburg coach John Conway, in the coaching box at third, could only watch the play develop, not wanting to alert the Canajoharie players.

“The third base take was all her smarts,” said Conway. “She saw nobody was covering, they were still tending to their player, and she took another one.”

It was a frustrating end for the second-seeded Cougars, who handed the Eagles their only Western Athletic Conference loss this season.

Senior Laura Gaydusek retired the first 11 Duanesburg batters, and only gave up three hits. But the Cougars left runners in scoring position in the second, third and fifth innings,

“I don’t feel like we handed the game to them. I feel like they earned every bit of it,” said Can­ajoharie coach Jen Petteys. “I think the game came down to the one play, but we didn’t capitalize on the chances we had earlier in the game.”

Petteys had a good view of the deciding play, as it happened near the visiting team’s dugout.

“They were not paying attention to the baserunner,” she said of her infielders. “When she [Limoncelli] fell, way too much attention was paid to her. Nobody on the field noticing her [Sanders] continuing to run was a problem. I think they were trying to make sure Allison wasn’t hurt.”

Hennel had made a sparkling defensive play in the top of the inning, a running catch of Gina Santos’ drive into right-center.

“The girl has been on the team about 31⁄2 weeks now, and every day, she helps our team in many different ways,” said Conway of his center fielder.

“Dani got a lot of reps on turning and going to the gap, and it paid off.

“She’s feeling good about herself defensively, and she came up and smacks the game-winner after Aly did some real creative baserunning for us.”

Conway credited senior pitcher Erika Hillenbrand for giving his team a chance to win.

“Erika keeps us in the game,” he said. “We needed the shutout.

The Eagles will play Mechanicville for the right to advance to regional play. That game will be played at 5 p.m. Friday at Clifton Common.

The Red Raiders stunned Lake George with their aggressive baserunning, beating the Warriors, 11-4, in the Class CC final.

Lake George drew first blood, but Mechanicville put up eight runs in the first three innings and cruised to its fourth title since 2002.

“We played small ball today,” said Mechanicville coach Don Arc­eneaux. “You want to be aggressive. The timely hits came with them, which was a luxury.”



Lake George 100 003 0 —  4  5 6

Mechanicville 224 030 x — 11 11 2

Callahan and Fraser; Arceneaux, McBride (6) and Cervini.



Canajoharie 000 000 0 — 0 2 1

Duanesburg 000 001 x — 1 3 3

Gaydusek and Blood; Hillenbrand and Fields.

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