You would never have known Becca Smith had just lost a no-hitter with two outs in the seventh inning Thursday.
There was no visible emotional response, only a return to her routine, as the Albany Academy senior, knowing her team was one out from a very important win, closed out the Bears’ 3-0 victory over Schalmont that put 11-2 Academy alone atop the Patriot Division of the Colonial Council.
“I walked to the back of the circle and took a breath,” said the right-hander after Lauren Mahar laced a clean single up the middle.
“I just had to keep pitching. It’s been like a mantra. ‘Whatever happens, just keep pitching. There’s going to be another batter to face.’ I try to not let anything throw me off.”
Sufficiently composed, Smith struck out Angela Yodis to end the game, the last of the 15 strikeouts she racked up.
Smith, coming off an 18-strikeout win over Ichabod Crane, was so dominant that only three Schalmont batters reached base. Smith walked Emily McLaughlin with one out in the first inning, then retired 15 straight before hitting Erika Gogis with a 1-2 pitch with two out in the sixth.
“I haven’t looked at the book yet, but that’s got to be one of the best games she’s pitched. She was in command,” said Academy coach Jessica Lawton Beal.
“It was like watching a masterpiece,” complimented Schalmont coach Eric Lybrand, whose hitters never figured Smith out. “I think I was more in awe of Becca, and just how good her stuff was today. She threw heat, her rise was working. She kept our kids off-balance. It was almost as if our bats were dead.”
Smith and freshman catcher Emily Padalino huddled before taking the field in the seventh inning.
“Just a little pep talk before the inning. Let’s finish this off,” Smith said of the conversation. “It was an important game.”
Smith got McLaughlin, the third hitter in the lineup, to pop out to shortstop Alexandra Miller, and struck out eighth-grader Savanna Liverio, the cleanup hitter. She missed with her first pitch to
Mahar, who then stroked a clean single to Smith’s right and out of Miller’s range.
Watching from her position in center field, Carylann Geddes, the only other senior on the team, felt for her teammate, who has now beaten the other three teams in the league — Mechanicville, Schalmont and Cohoes — with 10 or more league wins.
“I wish she had gotten it [the no-hitter], but it was a blast,” said Geddes, who went 3-for-3 and scored two runs from her No. 4 spot in the batting order. “I like being out there, watching the pitches being called and knowing a girl’s going to swing at it and miss. I like to see Becca do well.”
Lybrand took some consolation from the fact that Mahar got his 11-3 team’s hit. The junior had one bad inning Thursday, when the Bears scored two of their runs.
“It was fitting that Lauren broke it up,” he said. “Right before that at bat, I said to myself, ‘Wouldn’t it be fitting if she did it?’
“That’s the kind of kid Lauren is. That was important to her, to go out swinging. She wasn’t going to make the last out.”
Geddes and Miller got singles to open the Academy second, and Michaela Carney’s one-out single loaded the bases. Padalino singled in one run, and classmate Emma Bender, the No. 9 hitter, worked Mahar’s only walk to force in another run.
Carli Voellm doubled home Geddes in the third to make it 3-0.
“They really want to contribute. They’re really stepping up and have a lot of heart,” Smith said of her young teammates.
“We’re making progress as a softball program. It’s encouraged people to come out for the team,” said Geddes. “The younger players have all gotten better. We beat a pretty good team today. Becca pitched really well, we had hits in the right spot.”
“The last two years, this has turned into a nice rivalry,” said Lawton Beal. “It seems like we’re playing each other at the end of the season in an important game.”
Schalmont 000 000 0 — 0 1 1
Albany Academy 021 000 x — 3 9 0
Mahar and Yodis; Smith and Padalino.