The similarities are striking, but Greenwich softball coach Greg McGuirk hopes this year’s team can win two more games than its predecessor.
The Witches are one of three Section II teams — Fort Ann and Chatham are the others — involved in today’s NYSPHSAA championships. Semifinals in five classifications are scheduled for this morning at the Adirondack Sports Complex and Morse Field in Queensbury, with five championship games set for the afternoon.
“The girls are hungry,” said McGuirk, who has all nine starters back from the team that fell in the state semis last year. “They don’t want to be the fourth-best or third-best team. They want to win it.”
Greenwich draws Section XI champion Pierson/Bridgehampton in its 11:30 a.m. Class C state semifinal. Greene (Section IV) and Frewsburg (Section VI) meet in the other semi, with the winners playing for the championship at 4:30.
Greenwich finished 7-7 in the very competitive Wasaren League, and completed the regular season 12-8 for the second straight year before knocking off two league rivals and 2011 Class B state semifinalist Mechanicville to win its second consecutive Section II title.
Regional wins against St. Lawrence and Ticonderoga give the Witches an 18-8 record.
“Right now, it feels amazing to win back-to-back regional titles,” said McGuirk, in his third year as head coach. “If we can get through two more games, it would be incredible.”
Left-handed shortstop Dani DeGregory, first baseman Samantha Linnett and pitcher Rachel Albright are the only three senior starters.
Catcher Mariah Linnett and second baseman Samantha Whitehouse started last year as freshmen. Outfielders Samantha Strasswimmer, Sarah Heimbach and Ashleigh Maines, and third baseman Abby Dusha are juniors.
“You get some people wondering how you get to the state semifinals with that many losses,” admitted McGuirk. “Our league is tough, and I like to challenge them with good non-league games. That’s the way you get better and prepare for sectionals and anything beyond that.
“I want them to know how it feels to battle back if they fall behind in a game, to be able to draw on that.”
Greenwich, bidding for the second state championship in program history, can also draw on the success the players have had in field hockey and basketball, as well as softball.
“I think they have a confidence about them,” McGuirk said. “They want to win.”
Fort Ann is back in the state semis for the first time since winning a state championship in 2006. That win capped a five-year run of regional championships for the Lady Cardinals.
The Adirondack League team meets Deposit (Section IV) in a 9 a.m. semi at the ASC.
Chatham has never played this deep into the season. Section II’s Class B champ also plays a Section IV team, defending state champ Windsor, in a 9 a.m. semi at the ASC.
Valley Central (IX) vs. Cicero-North Syracuse (III), Clarence (VI) vs. MacArthur (VIII), 10 a.m., Morse Field.
Morse Field, 3.
Sayville (XI) vs. Cornwall (IX), Hamburg (VI) vs. Jamesville-DeWitt (III), 11:30 a.m., ASC.
Valhalla (I) vs. Mynderse Academy (V), Windsor (IV) vs. Chatham (II), 9 a.m., ASC.
Greene (IV) vs. Frewsburg (VI), Pierson/Bridgehampton (XI) vs. Greenwich (II), 11:30 a.m., ASC.
Hamilton (III) vs. Batavia Notre Dame (V), Fort Ann (II) vs. Deposit (IV), 9 a.m., ASC.