MALTA — Over the past two years, the Troy softball team has been at its best when it matters most — in the postseason.
“Last year, I think we came together really quickly,” said Troy senior Olivia DeCitise. “This year, it’s taken some time, but now we’re right where we need to be.”
No. 2 Troy picked up a 5-0 victory over No. 3 Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake in the Section 2 Class A semifinals on Tuesday evening at the Luther Forest Athletic Fields.
DeCitise, Troy’s left-handed ace, helped herself out with an RBI single in the bottom of the third inning, driving in Vanessa Quinn.
The opposite-field single was the 100th career hit for DeCitise, who has a .450 career batting average (100 for 222). She has tallied 38 hits this season in order to reach the milestone.
“That’s a crazy number,” Troy eighth-grader Nadia Mulinio said of DeCitise’s milestone. “It’s really unbelievable, how well she’s been hitting this season.”
“Her bat’s been so important for us and in some games it’s been more important than her pitching,” said Troy coach Sean Geisel. “She’s just been comfortable at the plate and doesn’t try to do too much. She’s able to get the barrel extended and oftentimes, good things happen.”
The Flying Horses tacked on one more run in the bottom of the third on a sacrifice fly from Katie Pryor.
In the bottom of the fourth, Ava Salvaggio scored on a sacrifice fly from Quinn, as Troy took a 3-0 lead.
Burnt Hills had multiple opportunities, with runners on base in each the first through fifth innings, but weren’t able to get anything across.
“We knew going into this season that we had a group that was going to make a lot of noise, and these girls definitely did,” said Burnt Hills coach Caitlyn Rana. “We played with a lot of heart and a lot of grit and we didn’t give up, no matter what the score.”
In the bottom of the sixth inning, Quinn had her second RBI of the game, driving in Salvaggio on a squeeze bunt play. Mulinio then provided Troy with its fifth run with an RBI single.
“It was crazy, having the talk with the coaches during tryouts about being on varsity,” said Mulinio, who watched Troy’s run to the state semifinals last year as a seventh-grader. “ I was so happy to know that I was going to be a part of it, after watching last year.”
The Flying Horses have two eighth-graders playing a prominent role in the starting lineup. Along with Mulinio, who bats second and plays right field, Kaylee Kussler bats fifth and plays first base.
“I couldn’t even tell,” DeCitise said of Troy’s eighth-graders. “Both Nadia and Kaylee, our eighth-graders, play just as well as juniors and seniors, the way they hit and field.”
DeCitise, a UMass Lowell commit, retired the final six hitters of the game to ensure the victory. She tallied 10 strikeouts in the two-hit, complete game shutout.
Katie Rhodes, a junior, tossed a complete six innings in the circle for the Spartans. She allowed five runs on six hits, with our strikeouts.
Lilly Morse had both of the hits for Burnt Hills, including a double.
The loss marked the final high school softball game for Spartan seniors Jessica Zalucki, Mckenna Hickey and Danielle DeBonis.
“They set a culture for our team, leading by example on and off the field,” Rana said of her seniors. “They’re pumping each other up, making noise in the dugout and they’re going to be missed.”
Burnt Hills finished the season with a record of 11-7.
“I really wanted to go out strong finishing my sports career at Burnt Hills,” said DeBonis. “I love this team and I’ve loved playing with them. It just didn’t turn out how we wanted it to, but in the end we left it all out there and that’s all that matters.”
Earlier in the season on April 5, Burnt Hills picked up a Suburban Council victory over Troy.
“It was the second game of the season and they beat us 3-0,” DeCitise said. “We are not the same team now that we were in April.”
Last year Troy used a shutout from DeCitise and a solo home run from now-graduated Emma Thompson to win the Class A championship 1-0 over Burnt Hills.
With a rivalry having developed between Troy and Burnt Hills, it is noteworthy that Troy coach Sean Geisel and Burnt Hills’ coach Caitlyn Rana both attended SUNY Brockport, around the same time. While Geisel played on the baseball team, Rana also played on the school’s softball team.
“It’s wild,” Rana said. “When we showed up to that first Suburban Council meeting and we saw each other, it was a cool moment. It’s a cool rivalry to have, knowing someone from like a previous life and to have our paths cross again as coaches.”
The Flying Horses now have an overall record of 18-4, heading into the Class A championship game against No. 1 South Glens Falls (19-3).
South Glens Falls staved off Averill Park on Tuesday, 5-4, to win its semifinal matchup.
Burnt Hills 000 000 0 — 0 5 0
Troy 002 102 X — 5 6 1