It’s the perfect storm for softball fans — the best two teams in each of the five enrollment classifications coming together at one site, playing simultaneously as they seek berths in the state quarterfinals.
It happens today at 5 p.m. at Clifton Common, when Section II will crown champions in the Class AA, A, B and D divisions, and determine its Class C representative for the regionals.
Four teams will be trying to defend titles. Two of them — South Glens Falls and Hoosic Valley — are reigning state champs. Shenendehowa is gunning for a sixth straight sectional championship.
Eight of the teams played at this stage a year ago.
Like watching top-line pitching?
Three of Section II’s best are on display in Shenendehowa junior Mandy Ferro and seniors Marissa Carpenter of South Glens Falls and Jen Mineau of Hoosic Valley.
Enjoy power hitting?
Colonie has some big bats, as does South Glens Falls.
Prefer the small ball game?
Mechanicville plays fast-break softball, pressuring opponents and taking advantage of mistakes.
vs. Colonie (19-6)
A rematch of the ’07 final, won by the Lady Plainsmen, 2-1.
Ferro has thrown two shutouts in the postseason, and has beaten Colonie twice this season.
Shenendehowa’s middle infield of Barb Shea and Lauren Lawler is strong at bat and in the field.
Catcher Emilia Peluso has added some unexpected punch to the lineup.
Colonie, the eighth seed, has taken out No. 2 Niskayuna and No. 3 Troy in the last two games.
Senior Toni Fusco gets the start, and coach Chris Robilotti is looking for Kayla Lynch, Ashley Grady and Julie Maio to supply the offense.
“The kids are not tight. They’re relaxed, they’re here to play,” said Shenendehowa coach Dan D’Amboise. “We always say, ‘Don’t be arrogant, but be confident.’ Come to the field and play the way you always play.
“We’re real, real happy to be back in the championship game. It’s always your goal at the beginning of the season, but it’s like a no-hitter — you don’t want to talk about it.”
“It helps in that we’ve seen her twice,” said Robilotti of Ferro. “We still have to hit her. I expect us to put the ball in play, we’re a good hitting team.”
South Glens Falls (19-0)
vs. BH-BL (16-8)
Another 2007 finals rematch, where the Spartans made the Bulldogs work for a 2-0, nine-inning win.
Carpenter is the most dominant pitcher at this level, and the three-time defending champion Bulldogs are capable of scoring runs, led by Alexis Wallace, Amanda Perry, Lauren Carruthers and Chelsea Carruthers.
Burnt Hills has seen Katie Filak develop into a solid No. 1 pitcher — she fired a one-hitter in a 5-0 semifinal win over Lansingburgh.
Catcher Leanne Merchant, Victoria Pelleschi and Caitlyn Rana need to produce runs if the Spartans are to reverse last year’s result in the final.
Hoosic Valley (20-0)
vs. Cohoes (14-10)
Hoosic Valley rode the right arm of Mineau to the state Class title last year, and the Indians have not missed a beat after moving up a class. Mineau is closing in on 1,000 strikeouts for her career, and fired her third perfect game of the season in a 1-0 semifinal win over Schuylerville.
Six of Cohoes’ losses were non-league, and the Tigers have a number of players in the second straight title game, including pitcher Courtney Galuski, Steph LaDue and Meghan Welcome.
vs. Duanesburg (20-6)
Class CC champ Mechanicville likes to force opponents into mistakes, and then make them pay by using speed to take the extra base.
Left-handed shortstop Lindey McKeever, catcher Nina Cervini, outfielder Toni Liberty, second baseman Kelly Murphy and pitcher/first baseman Shannon McBride were all members of the Red Raiders’ 2006 state finalist club. Sophomore Anna Arceneux has developed into a No. 1 starter.
Duanesburg won its fourth straight Class C title Wednesday, as Erika Hillenbrand shut out Canajoharie, 1-0.
Hillenbrand, the team’s No. 3 hitter, leads a scrappy offense that features leadoff hitter Beth Smith, third baseman Colby Hochmuth and first baseman Stephanie Holt.
Holt and Hillenbrand are the only seniors on the team.
“We get to play a great, great Mechanicville team that plays the best teams in the state at all levels,” said Eagles coach John Conway.
“We’re looking forward to it. We’ve won four [sectional titles] in a row, and Mechanicville has won three or four state titles.
“They’ve got a lot of speed. They’re great athletes and great players.”
“We’ve got to play defense, hit the ball and make our pitches,” said Mechanicville coach Don
Arceneaux, whose team has scored 19 runs in two postseason games. “We want to be aggressive.”
vs. Hartford (16-4)
Argyle won the last two of the three previous meetings this season between the Adirondack League rivals.
Both have played just one game in a five-team bracket.