ROTTERDAM — There’s going to be a new Section 2 Class AA softball champion crowned later this week after Colonie used its speed, some clutch at-bats and Adrianna Laraway’s pitching to get past Saratoga Springs 4-2 Tuesday in a semifinal game at Schalmont High School.
Taylor Quinn provided plenty of derring-do in the third inning when the senior catcher stole third base and scored what proved to be the game-winning run on a short popout that made it 3-0.
“That’s something we stress,” Colonie coach Sean Merchant said after the Garnet Raiders reached their first large-school title game since winning it in 2019. “I’m an aggressive coach. I want the kids to be aggressive when they’re hitting and I want them to be aggressive running the bases.”
Quinn was just that, doubling to begin the third and showing off her speed after displaying her power with a homer in Thursday’s 13-1 quarterfinal win over No. 8 Albany.
“All I was thinking about was that we needed another run,” Quinn said.
Katie Parisi brought Quinn home with her short popout and also hit an RBI single in the sixth that put top-seeded Colonie (16-2) up 4-2, and Laraway escaped one last jam in the seventh to send the Garnet Raiders into Thursday’s 5 p.m. championship game opposite Shenendehowa at Luther Forest Park in Malta.
“After getting kicked out in the quarter last year, this is a big jump,” Quinn said.
Gabby Baumann hit an RBI single for Colonie, and Laraway had a sacrifice fly to go with her seven-hit, six-strikeout, two-walk performance.
Nia Law and losing pitcher Jackie Cutting started the Saratoga (No. 5, 14-7) seventh with singles, and, after Laraway got a strikeout and the runners advanced on a popout, the sophomore recorded her last strikeout.
“I really liked our energy and our toughness. You’ve got to be mentally tough,” Merchant said. “Look at Adrianna when they had runners on second and third in the seventh. She worked her way out of it. That was gutsy.”
Colonie had beaten Saratoga 2-0 in Suburban Council play earlier in the season.
“My kids never gave up. They haven’t all season,” Saratoga coach Geoff Loiacono said. “We had a game against Colonie at their place and it ended the same way, with runners on second and third. We couldn’t come up with a hit.”
Law had the biggest hit for Saratoga in the semifinal, a two-run double in the fourth that sliced Colonie’s lead to 3-2. Sarah Decker hit a two-out single and Natalie Conroy followed with a single before Law belted a Laraway pitch deep in the left-center gap.
“Saratoga can hit,” Merchant said after six different Blue Streaks connected for hits. “Seeds two through six all went 8-5 [in the Suburban Council], and we didn’t beat any of them by more than two runs. Everyone with the exception of maybe a few teams at the bottom can hit.”
Baumann hit her RBI single and Laraway lofted her sac fly in the first when Colonie grabbed a 2-0 lead. In the third, after Quinn doubled, she stole third and came home on her own, scoring when Karley Austin’s throw from the right field fringe sailed high.
“That was all her,” Merchant said of Quinn.. “She is a great baserunner. If she thinks she has a decent chance to make it, I’m all for it.”
Saratoga made three fielding errors, and twice had runners tagged out as they tried to get an additional base.
“Colonie took advantage of our mistakes,” Loiacono said. “Both were coaches calls.”
Cutting gave up five hits, struck out two and didn’t walk a batter.
Saratoga mastered the upset in winning the 2022 Class AA title, when, as the No. 7 seed that finished two games under .500 in the regular season, it beat four teams including the top three seeds. Saratoga capped its surprising tourney run by beating No. 1 Shenendehowa 6-4 in eight innings.
“This was the first year we didn’t have to petition to get in [to the Section 2 tournament],” said Loiacono, who has led the Blue Streaks for 12 years. “We lost three seniors, and we owe that to everybody who came back.”
Saratoga edged No. 4 Ballston Spa in the quarterfinals 1-0 behind Cutting’s three-hitter and Austin’s RBI double.
Shenendehowa (No. 3, 14-6) scored three runs in the ninth inning to beat Guilderland (No. 2, 13-8) in the other semifinal at Schalmont 9-6, and earned a crack at its second Class AA flag in three years.
Morgan Smith hit a two-run single to cap Shenendehowa’s ninth, which started with a double by Emily Baumes. Baumes moved to third on an infield pop and an error, and, after Kelsey Higgins walked, Kayla Kean dropped down a run-scoring sacrifice bunt. After a popout, Smith delivered.
Sara Isaacs had a home run, single and three RBIs for the Plainsmen, Higgins had a homer, single and two RBIs, and Baumes had a double, two singles and two runs scored.
Alyssa Griffin had a home run, single and three RBIs for Guilderland, Laila Smith had a double, two singles and two RBIs, and Giuliana Vivenzio had a double and single.
Guilderland held leads of 3-0, 5-1 and 6-3 before Shenendehowa put together a rally that included two runs in the seventh. Winning pitcher Bre Hayes held Guilderland scoreless over the final four innings.
It was the second dramatic playoff win for the Plainmen, who got a walk-off hit from Natalia Colone to beat No. 6 Shaker 1-0 in the quarters.
Guilderland breezed in its quarterfinal, topping No. 7 Niskayuna 10-3. Griffin also homered in that contest.
Shenendehowa got some payback after losing to Guilderland 7-3 in league play. The Plainsmen will next look to avenge a 4-3 league loss to Colonie in Thursday’s title-game matchup.
Saratoga 000 200 0 — 2 7 3
Colonie 201 001 x — 4 5 0
Shenendehowa 010 021 203 — 9 12 2
Guilderland 302 010 000 — 6 10 4