CLIFTON PARK — Heading into her senior season with the Shenendehowa softball team, Sara Isaacs knew what it felt like to win the Section 2 Class AA championship.
However, she also knew what it felt like to come up short in the title game.
After defeating Bethlehem in 2021, but falling to Saratoga Springs last year, some redemption was in order for Isaacs and her fellow Plainsmen.
“It was our biggest goal,” Isaacs said of coming back from last season to win the Section 2 title. “Last year after we lost, we spent so long on the bus after that game figuring out what we could do to come back from that. “
While Colonie dominated during the regular season, it was Shenendehowa that emerged from a five-way tie for second place, to challenge the Raiders in the championship.
“Coming in as the underdog, it was a different experience for us,” Isaacs said. “We’ve had a reputation of being the top seed for a few years. So coming in, knowing nobody was on our side or expecting much of us, it came down to just having confidence in each other. We had nothing to lose and were able to just play our game.”
Shenendehowa won its Class AA quarterfinal game 1-0 against Shaker in walk-off fashion. It was Isaacs who got things started in the bottom of the seventh inning in that May 18 game. After a leadoff single, she was bunted over by Morgan Smith and driven in by Natalia Colone.
In the semifinals against Guilderland, Shenendehowa mounted a seventh-inning comeback, eventually prevailing 9-6 in nine innings.
Isaacs had a two-run single in the top of the seventh during that May 23 contest, tying the game 6-6.
“In previous years, my bat hasn’t been too hot,” said Isaacs, who also had a home run against Guilderland. “For my senior year, I really wanted to contribute to the team doing something special. I went up there with full confidence and was able to produce in some big spots.”
The Plainsmen took the lead on a squeeze bunt executed by Kayla Kean, scoring Emily Baumes.
“We practice that all the time,” Isaacs said. “My sophomore year in the championship game, Hannah Smith bunted in a run against Bethlehem. Since then, I think the coaches realized how much the squeeze play works to score runs in essential moments.”
During the championship game on May 25, Isaacs went 2 for 4, with a double, as Shenednehowa staved off a Colonie comeback in a 7-6 victory.
The win means that the Plainsmen (15-6) extended their season at least another week, as they’re scheduled to play in the regional championship against Section 3’s Baldwinsville (12-10) on Saturday at 5 p.m. at Carrier Park in Syracuse.
“It’s awesome,” Isaccs said of the extra week of practice. “It’s been a little hot, especially on the turf, but continuing the season into June is one of the greatest things you can hope for.”
The ultimate goal for the senior, however, is to have her season extended until the last possible weekend, which would be for the NYSPHSAA Final Four at the Moriches Athletic Complex on Long Island.
“I think that’s what everyone who plays high school sports dreams of,” she said. “That’s the ultimate goal, in every sport. It would mean the world to every single one of us, because we’ve put in endless hours of work and bonded so much to be able to get here.”