Since stepping up to the varsity level in 2008, Alysa Russell and Abby Maiello have always dedicated their softball seasons to each year’s senior class.
Now the duo — two of the three seniors on the Mechanicville roster — are doing it for the next group of players.
Maiello singled in a run, and Russell had two hits and scored a run Friday as the Lady Red Raiders defeated Waterford-Halfmoon, 4-0, in the Section II Class C quarterfinals.
Mechanicville, 20-2, advanced to Tuesday’s 6 p.m. semifinal at Veeder Park in Colonie, where it will play Greenwich. Both teams were state semifinalists in 2011, when
Mechanicville played at the Class B level.
“I’ve always played for the seniors. Now, I’m playing for the younger kids,” said Maiello, who has signed to play soccer at Saint Bonaventure. “Winning is the reward.”
Russell, Maiello’s partner in the middle of the infield, also noted how it is a little strange to be one of the few seniors.
“But the younger kids are all good,” she said. “All the way down through. I coach elementary school girls in Lassie League and travel ball, and they’re all solid. We’re just a softball lovin’ town.”
One of the younger kids Russell referred to is sophomore Kirstyn Alonzo, who held the Lady Fordians to a pair of singles and retired 14 in a row before issuing her second walk of the game with two out in the seventh inning.
Alonzo filled one of Mechanicville’s most pressing needs this spring as the team sought a fifth consecutive sectional title, replacing Anna Arceneaux in the pitching circle.
“There’s pressure, but I try to hit my spots,” said Alonzo. “I have a great catcher and a great defense behind me.”
“We had a couple of holes to fill — pitcher, catcher, some infield spots,” said Maiello. “But I think we’ve filled them very nicely.”
“She fits right in,” said Russell.
“She’s pitched well,” Mechanicville coach Don Arceneaux said of Alonzo. “She keeps us in the games, When she’s on, she’s real good.”
Mechanicvillle did all of its scoring in the first three innings against Waterford sophomore Ashley Lefebvre, all the runs coming with two outs.
Russell doubled with two down in the first, stole third and came home on a wild pitch.
Maiello singled in Erin Maloney in the second, and Megan Bazar doubled in a run and scored on Maloney’s single in the fourth.
“We got a lot of timely hitting today. All of our runs came with two outs,” said Arceneaux. “You still sweat a little bit, because we weren’t scoring a lot of runs. But Waterford played good defense.”
“Ashley pitched a great game, and the girls played well in the field,” said Waterford coach Karen Diener, whose team finished 16-6.
“They settled down, and that’s one of the things we focused on all year. You have to forget what happened and focus on the next play. And they did that very well all year.”
For the second straight year, the Lady Fordians saw their season end in the quarterfinals.
“This is exactly like last year. We beat Lake George, then had to go up against the No. 1 seed, Duanesburg,” Diener said. “I saw the seedings, and I thought, ‘All over again.’ But the kids felt like they had nothing to lose “
Alonzo wouldn’t let Waterford get untracked, surrendering just a first-inning single to Carly Brazill and another in the third to Erin Howe, who was the only Waterford played to reach second base.
Despite its exceptional recent postseason success that includes eight sectionals titles and six state championships since 2000, Mechanicville is not looking too far ahead.
“The games get tougher as you go, so we have to bring our best each time,” Russell said.
“Sometimes we come out a little dull, but coach works at keeping us sharp,” said Maiello.
“I keep telling them that if we keep playing our game, we’ve got a good chance to win,” said Arceneaux.
Waterford-Halfmoon 000 000 0 — 0 2 1
Mechanicville 112 000 x — 4 7 0
Ash Lefebvre and Gardner; Alonzo and Liberty.