Erika Daigle never got rattled, Catholic Central couldn’t get Erin Buckley out and senior Melissa Morgan delivered one of the biggest hits of her career.
It all added up to Shenendehowa beating Catholic Central, 8-2, Wednesday in a Section II Class AA softball semifinal at Veeder Park.
The Lady Plainsmen advanced to a sectional softball final for the ninth time since 2000. They will meet Guilderland, a 6-0 winner over Colonie, at 4:30 Friday at Veeder Park.
“I just kept trying to throw strikes,” said Daigle, who gave up five hits and struck out nine for 21-1 Shenendehowa, shutting off a Lady Crusaders’ fourth-inning rally at two runs and stranding two runners in the seventh. “I’ve got confidence in the fielders behind me to make plays.”
Buckley had two hits, two walks and scored three times as top-seeded Shenendehowa took leads of 1-0 and 5-0 before Catholic Central got on the board.
Morgan rifled a two-run single in the home fourth to negate CCHS’s only runs, and the Lady Plainsmen tacked on another run in the seventh to return to the “AA” final after losing to Bethlehem last spring.
“I’m excited,” said Morgan of getting another chance at winning a sectional championship. “We’ve only got five seniors, so we’re a young team. But we’re playing well.”
Daigle was dominant the first time through the CCHS lineup and retired the first 10 hitters in order, five by strikeout.
“I didn’t know a lot about their hitters, so we went with what was working. The rise was working very well,” said Daigle, whose rise ball kept the Lady Crusaders swinging late.
Buckley reached base and came around to score in her first three plate appearances.
The sophomore third baseman doubled to lead off the first, went to third on a ground ball and scored when sophomore first baseman Taylor Fitzgerald bounced out to the right side.
Buckley walked to open a four-run Shenendehowa third, with an error and another walk loading the bases.
Morgan’s fly ball scored one run before Amanda Augustson, Briana Swota and Caitlin Lawson delivered consecutive RBI singles.
“My job is to get on base,” said Buckley, who singled and scored on Morgan’s hit in the fourth. “I want to get on, and also make the pitcher work so the rest of the team can see what she’s throwing.”
Katie O’Gorman followed Buckley’s fourth-inning single with one of her own, and one out later, Morgan supplied the hit that put Shenendehowa up, 7-2.
“I was trying to keep my hands back,” she said. “I knew we had a runner on second, and I wanted to get her home.”
Swota’s second run-scoring hit made it 8-2 in the sixth.
“A lot of the girls had big games,” said Shenendehowa coach Dan D’Amboise, citing Buckley, Morgan and Swota.
“Erin has been a great leadoff hitter,” he said. “Melissa is one of the elite players in the section, and Brianna had just a great game.”
Three of Daigle’s four walks came in the space of four hitters in the Catholic Central fourth, the last two forcing in runs after she walked Anna Cochis intentionally to load the bases with one out.
“I’ve got enough confidence in her to feel she can get the next two hitters,” D’Amboise said of the walk that loaded the bases. “She’s very talented. It’s more of a mental thing.”
“We just wanted to get back to the finals, to get another chance,” said Daigle.
Morgan finished with three RBI, and Swota added two hits and two RBI.
Giacobbi had two hits for Catholic Central, and shortstop Hannah Kutny concluded an outstanding multiple-sport career with a fifth inning double.
Mallory Harrigan threw a two-hitter, and Taylor Ten Eyck and Jess Peck both belted two-run home runs as Guilderland beat No. 2 seed Colonie.
Tori Greco added a 2-for-4 game with a double and an RBI as the sixth-seeded Lady Dutch— who took out third-seeded Bethlehem, 16-15, in the quarterfinals — improved to 14-7 with their second win in three games with the Lady Raiders, who finished 15-7
SHENENDEHOWA 8, CCHS 2
Catholic Central 000 200 0 — 2 5 4
Shenendehowa 104 201 x — 8 9 0
Cochis and Fenton; Daigle and Lawson.
GUILDERLAND 6, COLONIE 0
Guilderland 102 030 0 — 6 10 0
Colonie 000 000 0 — 0 2 0
Harrigan and T. Ten Eyck; Lane and Ogren.