There were lots of hugs, farewells and thank yous.
But tears were few after Notre Dame-Bishop Gibbons lost to Mechanicville 8-4 Friday in the semifinal round of the Section II Class B softball tournament.
“The program has grown up,” said Golden Knight coach Doug Holden after seeing a fourth consecutive season end in the round of eight. “In the last four years, the seniors have helped us get so much better.
“It’s just disappointing because we wanted to take that next step.”
Hailey Rivers, the No. 9 hitter in Mechanicville’s lineup, drove in three runs, and the Red Raiders used a five-run fifth inning to take control and move into Wednesday’s semifinal round.
Getting to that next round had been the Golden Knights’ mission this year, a farewell present for that group of seniors who had turned the program around.
When the former Big 10 team took a 2-0 lead in the fourth, it looked like that wish would come true.
But Rivers hit a two-run double in the home fourth to tie the score, and Mechanicville got six hits and batted around in the fifth to end the dream.
“We put the bat on the ball and they made plays,” said Holden, whose team had 10 hits. “We had some opportunities. I thought there was a time when we might break it open.”
Victoria Maddalone, one of the seniors, went out in style, going 4-for-4 with a home run. Though her career was over, Maddalone expressed pride in helping make Bishop Gibbons a tough out.
“I played on modified as a seventh-grader, and came up to varsity as an eighth-grader,” she said. “The [Salisbury] twins weren’t here yet. Now, it’s a completely different program.
“My brother is friends with a lot of the modified team, and they all talk about how they want to be at our level.”
Pitcher Joelle Salisbury, whose arrival with twin sister Alyssa four years ago began the ND-BG revival, also looked back at the past four years with pride.
“To hear that, that’s a great compliment, to know how the younger players are looking up to us,” she said.
“It’s sad for the seniors, but I think the program has grown so much. More kids want to play.”
Holden credits the twins, who transferred from Mohonasen prior to their freshmen year, as being catalysts for the success.
“They changed things. They made it a sport that girls want to play,” he said. “I go by the school now, and there are modified kids playing catch. That’s a first. But that’s what this group of seniors did.”
But, up against a program with six state championships, it wasn’t enough. Emily Ford gave up 10 hits, but never conceded a big inning as she waited for her teammates to get her some runs.
“Once we start hitting, we get going and going and going. When our defense is on, and our offense is on, we’re a good team,” said Rivers.
“We’ve got a good coach. We’ve got good seniors, a lot of good players. We’ve got girls who came up in seventh and eighth grade and played all the way through high school.
“I feel like every year we have a good program, whether we’re young or have older girls.”
“We just try to fit kids into the team the best we can every year,” said veteran Mechanicville coach Don Arceneaux. “We’ve got a group of seniors who have been hitting the ball all year. We’ve got some girls I brought up for sectionals that are in the lineup and playing well.”
And a group that will get to practice and play next week.
“It’s the part of the day I look forward to, that’s what I’m going to miss,” said Holden. “We have so much fun in practice.”
ND-BG 000 201 1 — 4 10 4
Mechanicville 000 251 x — 10 12 2
J. Salisbury and A. Salisbury; Ford and DeMarco.
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Categories: High School Sports