MALTA – It may not have felt like it right after the game’s end Tuesday, but the Schalmont softball team will realize it overcame expectations this season.
But early in the evening, the sting of defeat was still fresh, as second-seeded Glens Falls beat sixth-seeded Schalmont 5-0 in a Class B semifinal of the Section II Softball Tournament at Luther Forest Athletic Fields.
The previous Schalmont coach left in January, so new coach Steve Kowalczyk didn’t meet his players until the first day of tryouts. On top of that, the majority of last year’s team graduated.
Schalmont, however, relied on hard work to advance to the sectional semifinals before ending its season with a 15-6 record.
“I’m real impressed with where we went,” Kowalczyk said. “But I’m just here guiding them. Players win games, I’m just here to put them in position to do that.”
One thing coaches or players can’t do is dictate where softballs will land. Schalmont suffered from the sport’s cruelest fact: Well-struck balls at people translate to outs, and well-struck balls in the gaps translate to runs. Schalmont got the bat on the ball, but at the Indians. Glens Falls seemed to find every gap, no matter how small.
Schalmont’s best scoring chance came in the top of the third when number nine hitter Kristin Surin singled with two outs, stole second and advanced to third on Annalise Tyler’s infield single. Glens Falls, though, got the final out on a grounder.
The Indians did their damage in the bottom of the third, with catcher Avery Hill (3 for 4) doubling in a run down the third-base line and later scoring on an error. Then Kristen Stevens hit a two-run single for a 4-0 Glens Falls lead.
“I had one right on that line, and usually I hit a bunch of balls and they stay foul,” Hill said. “I had to get one out of the hundred, right?
“Once we get ahead we’re always good,” Hill added. “It’s when we get down on ourselves that we have our issues. It’s always a good thing when we’re hitting, even if it’s at people, because it’ll come.”
Schalmont continued to make contact, but Glens Falls made the play every time, showing good defense in doing so.
“That’s the game,” Kowalczyk said.
Schalmont senior Sara Kindlon said that the team took the attitude that it couldn’t feel sorry for itself over its season-beginning circumstances.
“It’s about taking the potential that you have and you know you can go places with it, just taking it play by play,” Kindlon said. “Just because a few players are lost doesn’t mean that we, as a team, went with them.”
“We had the coaching of Steve,” fellow senior Kayley Madia said. “He helped us come far along. We practiced mostly every single day and those practices really helped us.”
Kowalczyk said his players gave extreme effort and played well, but just came up a little short of their goals.
“We put a couple of pitchers together, put a lot of girls in different positions where they’re not used to being, and they bought it. They played up, and this team has players,” Kowalczyk said.
Glens Falls will play top-seeded Ichabod Crane in the final at 5 p.m. Thursday at Luther Forest Athletic Fields. The Riders had three solo home runs in a 4-1 win over Cohoes. Ava Heffner went 3 for 3 with a double and home run. Abigail Milazzo and Clare Knapp also hit homers.
Glens Falls 5, Schalmont 0
Schalmont 000 000 0 – 0 4 1
Glens Falls 004 001 x – 5 13 1
Ichabod Crane 4, Cohoes 1
Cohoes 000 001 0 – 1 3 0
Ichabod Crane 021 001 x – 4 7 1