The Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake softball team knows how important wins are during as the Suburban Council season heads into the final two weeks.
That’s what made Friday’s 7-5 at Guilderland especially sweet.
“We want to finish at least .500 and make sure we get into sectionals,” said catcher Zoe Dubois, not wanting her team to miss out on the Class A tournament for a second straight year. “It’s tough playing Class AA teams all year, but it really does help us get ready for sectionals.”
Friday’s win put the Lady Spartans at 5-6 with five league games left. Though Burnt Hills is in second place in the SC North, the Lady Spartans know that catching once-beaten Shenendehowa is a long shot. Securing a postseason spot is the priority.
“Our goal is to finish at least .500,” said coach Allison Bernardi. “I didn’t make a big deal that Guilderland was 8-2, I wanted them to just play.
“But they found a way to win, and we’re one step closer.”
Burnt Hills pitcher Erica Colucci stopped potential big Guilderland rallies in the final two innings, and went 3-for-3 with two RBI and four runs scored, and Dubois knocked in three runs, the final with a seventh-inning double that gave her batterymate a 7-3 lead.
“I just wanted to make sure they didn’t score any more runs,” said Colucci, who got nine fly ball outs, five in the final two innings. “I don’t mind the fly balls. We have a good outfield.”
“That’s her style,” said Dubois. “She has a good changeup and good rise ball, so she gets them to hit the ball in the air.”
Guilderland is in a four-way fight for the top spot in the SC South Division. The Lady Dutch had won six straight since falling to Shenendehowa, but first-year head coach Lou Marino knew early that it night be a long day for his team.
Marino’s head scratching began when first baseman Jess Peck came off the bag trying on what should have been a routine 5-3 play on Burnt Hills leadoff hitter Courtney Haff.
“We’ve been playing really well and not making many mistakes,” he said. “Then the first play today, and I thought, ‘Uh oh. Maybe this isn’t going to be our day.’
“We’ve been averaging about 15 hits a game, and we got hits today, but they were mostly singles. We only went base to base.”
Colucci, shortstop Meg Heck and Dubois all delivered runs as the Lady Spartans scored three times in the first inning. The lead got to 5-1 in the third when Haff led off with a double, Colucci brought her in with a single, and Dubois doubled to score Colucci.
“That made it a lot less stressful,” said Colucci of pitching with the lead. “You always want to have a lead.”
Down four runs going into the home sixth, Guilderland loaded the bases on singles by Peck, her sister, Abi, and Kiley DeCastro, the latter picking up her third hit of the game. Jenna Cubello made it 6-3 when she singled in a run, but Colucci got an infield pop out, a shallow fly to center fielder Meg McKeown and an inning-ending fly ball to right.
“I thought we really had a chance in the sixth, but they made the plays on all the fly balls,” said Marino. “Same thing in the seventh, we just didn’t get that one really big hit.
“But I’d rather this happened today. The last two weeks are really going to be something. We play Columbia and Bethlehem next week, and end the season against Colonie.”
Bernardi’s team finishes up against North Division teams. The Lady Spartans went 3-2 against division opponents the first time through.
“They know what they need to do,” she said of her team qualifying for the postseason. “They showed a lot today, hanging on and winning.”
Burnt Hills 302 010 1 — 7 11 1
Guilderland 101 001 2 — 5 11 1
Colucci and Dubois; Tewksbury, Harrigan (5) and DeCastro, T. Ten Eyck (6).