NISKAYUNA — Niskayuna softball rallied for three runs in the sixth inning, taking the lead away from Albany, and a spectacular throw from centerfielder Laura Mason helped preserve a 4-3 Suburban Council win at Van Antwerp Middle School Saturday afternoon.
Down two in the sixth, with one out and a runner on second, Niskayuna coach Erika Kenney sent three straight batters to the plate with instructions to bunt.
“I knew we have a good bunting team, and we don’t bunt often, so when we bunt, they don’t expect it, especially with one out,” Kenney said.
Bunts from Cadence Brennan and Mason resulted in back-to-back Albany errors, bringing home the tying runs. Mason followed with a stolen base to put her on third, and Katie Atchison placed a squeeze bunt that brought in Mason to put Niskayuna in front.
Albany threatened in the seventh as Lucy Lembo led off with a triple and Sydney Speanburg was hit by a pitch to put runners on the corners with nobody out. Hayley Townsend followed with a deep drive to center, but Mason reeled in the catch and unleashed a laser throw to catcher Micaela Hagler, who tagged out Lembo as she attempted to score from third.
“On those, I want to stay behind the ball, run through it and then I threw my crow hop just to get the most power into it and just throw home without thinking about,” Mason said. “I was hoping my throw was there and I trust my catcher to put the tag down.”
A grounder back Brennan in the pitcher’s circle ended the Albany threat and preserved the Silver Warriors win.
Albany was coming into Saturday off an impressive 3-0 victory Friday against Shaker.
“I heard that, and I pulled the girls in and told them this isn’t going to be a cakewalk,” Kenney said. “They’re here ready to play, they’re going to hit, we need to be able to hit, we need to be able to field.”
The Falcons scored two runs in the first on Speanburg’s two-run home run over the left-field fence. Another Albany single followed, forcing Kenney to switch Brennan from first base into the circle, negating her plans to give her a day off.
Brennan was in the circle Friday for Niskayuna’s 4-0 loss to Troy.
“When I’m pitching, I know that I’m in control, I know it’s up to me and I know that I can trust me team behind me,” Brennan said. “If I need them, they’re going to make those big plays and they’re going to throw the runner at home out. They’re going to be there for me.”
Brennan gave up an unearned run in her 6 2/3 innings of work, striking out eight and walking three batters, gaining momentum as the game went on.
“Going through the second time through the line-up not only do I know where they like to hit it, the spots on the field versus the spot in the zone itself, but I also know where the umpire is starting to call it,” Brennan said. “I know he’s not really calling those really inside pitches, even though they’re still on the plate, I just have to get it down more, even though I could bring it in. He’s not calling them really high, but if I make sure it’s by their letters, I know I can get it there and I know they’ll swing at it.”
Niskayuna (4-4 Suburban Council, 4-4 overall) will face Shenendehowa Monday, and the Silver Warriors are heading in with confidence.
“They’ve always been a tough one for us,” Kenney said. “Getting these couple games under our belt, a couple W’s, it really boosted their confidence. Now they’re ready.”
Albany 200 100 0 — 3 7 4
Niskayuna 000 103 x — 4 3 2