Dan D’Amboise wasn’t sure what to expect going into Friday’s Section II Class AA softball title game with Guilderland.
But after watching Erika Daigle throw a two-hitter, and both Katie O’Gorman and Caitlin Lawson come up with late game two-run base hits, the Shenendehowa coach put the Lady Plainsmen’s 4-0 win at Veeder Park with the best performances he has seen in his 12 years as head coach.
“They had 22 runs in their last two games, and we had scored 16 runs in our last two games. What we wound up with was a classic Section II final, where the pitchers were dominating,” said D’Amboise after the program’s ninth sectional title, the seventh since he took over the program in 2001 and first since a run of six straight from 2003-08.
The 22-1 Lady Plainsmen return here Tuesday to play the Section III champion at 4 p.m. The winner advances to next Saturday’s state final four at the Adirondack Sports Complex in Queensbury. Cicero/North Syracuse and Liverpool play this afternoon for the Section III title.
Daigle and Guilderland’s Mallory Harrigan were locked in a scoreless game through four innings before O’Gorman and Lawson delivered their big hits.
“I was just trying to get the pitches to work,” said Daigle, who faced just four batters over the minimum, got eight outs on infield pop-ups and seven more on ground balls, while striking out four. “When it’s lower scoring, there’s more pressure on me, so I have to get my mind straight and get my pitches to work.”
“She was jamming us. You could see the ball wasn’t coming off the bats real well,” said first-year Guilderland head coach Lou Marino, whose team made five errors in a 10-0 Suburban Council loss in April to the Lady Plainsmen.
O’Gorman dumped a single into short left field in the fifth that scored Aly Kramer and Erin Buckley, who had both singled and moved into scoring position on an error.
“We gambled a little bit because we had two outs,” D’Amboise said. “They played very deep and took a lot of hits away early. It was a matter of time. Something was going to drop in. You can play deep and take the long ball away, but eventually, it catches up to you.”
“I was just trying to wait for my pitch, and try to do something to help Erika out, because she was doing a great job pitching,” said O’Gorman, a junior in her first varsity season.
“We blinked, and they took advantage of it,” said Marino. “Once you leak oil against a team like that, it’s like blood in the water.”
Lawson, who had been waiting a year to get a chance to make up for a hitless game in a 2-1 loss to Bethlehem in the 2011 final, made it 4-0 when she ripped a double to right-center in the sixth.
“This feels a lot better,” said the junior catcher, who had hit a long fly ball in her previous at-bat. “Last year, I didn’t hit, and I wanted to come back and do better. I wanted to get back here, but I wanted to win and actually make a difference for my team.”
Greenwich repeated as Class C champion, downing Wasaren League rival Hoosic Valley, 5-3.
Sam Whitbeck and Mariah Linnett both hit two-run singles and Jasmine James doubled in another run for the Witches.
Rachel Albrecht threw a three-hitter for fifth-seeded Greenwich, which split its two league meetings with the Lady Indians during the season.
Dani DeGregory had two hits, and Carolin Strasswimmer added a double for the Witches.
Greenwich, which knocked off 2011 state Class B semifinalist Mechanicville in the semis, takes a 16-8 record into a Monday regional at SUNY-Potsdam against Section X champion St. Lawrence.
Chatham beat Ichabod Crane, 6-1, in the Class B final, and will play a regional final Wednesday at 4 at Veeder. The Lady Panthers will play the winner of Monday’s game between Section VII champion Saranac and Section X’s Ogdensburg Free Academy.
LADY KNIGHTS WIN
Jale Dick scored on a wild pitch in the top of the eighth inning to snap a 1-1 tie and help Notre Dame-Bishop Gibbons to a 3-1 victory over Troy in a Big 10 semifinal playoff game.
The Golden Knights (13-4) will play Catholic Central for the Big 10 title at 4:30 p.m. Monday at Knickerbacker Park. The playoff was necessitated because of a three-way tie for first among the Lady Knights, Troy and Catholic Central, who all finished the regular league season with 10-2 records.
Victoria Maddalone added an RBI single in the eighth.
Joelle Salisbury threw a three-hitter and struck out 10. She also delivered an RBI double that tied the score, 1-1, in the sixth. Alyssa Salisbury added a double, and Lilly Maggs had a single and scored two runs.
McKenzie Heiser hit a sacrifice fly to drive in Troy’s run in the fourth.
SHENENDEHOWA 4, GUILDERLAND 0
Guilderland 000 000 0 — 0 2 3
Shenendehowa 000 022 x — 4 7 1
Harrigan and T. Ten Eyck; Daigle and Lawson.
GREENWICH 5, HOOSIC VALLEY 3
Greenwich 023 000 0 — 5 9 7
Hoosic Valley 020 001 0 — 3 3 3
Albrecht and M.Linnett; Anderson and Chapko.
BIG 10 PLAYOFF
NOTRE DAME-BISHOP GIBBONS 3,
TROY 1 (8)
ND-BG 000 001 02 — 3 6 2
Troy 000 100 00 — 1 3 2
J. Salisbury and A. Salisbury; Levesque and Heiser.