Having coached with and against Mechanicville’s Don Arceneaux for years, Duanesburg softball coach John Conway knew his team couldn’t afford to give the Lady Raiders any help in the postseason.
The Lady Eagles fell into that trap in Wednesday’s Section II Class C semifinals, as Mechanicville took advantage of an early Duanesburg fielding mistake and posted a 9-1 win.
While the Lady Raiders advanced to Friday’s 5 p.m. final at Clifton Common against Greenwich, another good Lady Eagles team saw its season end sooner than it would have liked.
“It wasn’t the start we wanted. We gave them a little help, and you can’t do that with one of Donnie’s teams,” said Conway, whose fourth-seeded team gave No. 1 seed Mechanicville two first-inning runs without the benefit of a hit when first baseman Rachel Gamache dropped a throw, then compounded things with an errant peg across the infield.
The two runs were more than enough for Mechanicville pitcher Kirstyn Alonzo, who struck out 13, walked none and gave six hits, four of them consecutively in the fourth inning, when Duanesburg scored its only run.
Alonzo, who outdueled Voorheesville ace Amanda Gatt in Tuesday’s quarterfinal round, kept Duanesburg off-balance with the movement of her pitches.
“I just tried to hit my spots,” said the 11th-grader, who whiffed every hitter in the Duanesburg lineup except catcher Breanna Hanson. “The whole game, I was ready to go. Everybody had a great game.”
“She didn’t have the velocity she usually has, maybe because she pitched yesterday” said Arceneaux. “I probably called only about seven or eight changeups. Usually, we call about 20.”
“She threw us inside-outside, and we couldn’t get our bats to it,” said Duanesburg shortstop Stephanie Rice.
Duanesburg senior Erika Kenney was just as good, until Mechanicville broke through with a seven-run sixth inning.
Duanesburg had a great chance to take the lead in the top of the fourth, after Tess Bloom drove in Rice, who had started the Lady Eagles’ string of four straight hits. But Alonzo struck out Kenney, then center fielder Allison Ford hauled in Hanson’s long fly ball to leave the bases loaded.
“We fought back in that one
inning, then she [Alonzo] made some good pitches,” said Conway. “But if Bre hits a line drive, or you have a less competent center fielder out there, who knows?”
Arceneaux didn’t even consider removing his starting pitcher during Duanesburg’s rally.
“As long as she’s not walking people and getting behind in the count, she’s good,” said Arceneaux. “She dictates what we’re going to do.”
Mechanicville used six hits, two Duanesburg errors and three walks to score its seven runs in the sixth.
“We needed to get the timing with our bats, because she was different than what we saw yesterday,” said catcher Kylie Liberty, who had a two-run double in the sixth. “Timing was a big thing.
“It was like a domino effect,” said Ford, whose RBI single capped the sixth. “Once one girl gets going, we all get going. Everbody started to hit.”
“I had the feeling we were going to hit and score some runs.” said Arceneaux of his 19-4 team. “I just didn’t know when.”
Mechanicville’s seniors are looking forward to playing in the final after eventual state champ Greenwich upset the Lady Raiders in the sectional semifinals last year.
“It’s our senior year, and getting further than we did last year is huge for us,” Liberty said.
“I don’t know if anybody expected us to be here,” said Ford. “We lost a lot of seniors from last year, but everyone stepped up. We’re playing well. It’s exciting, especially for the seniors.”
“You know you’ve got to go through Mechanicville to get out [of the section],” said Conway, whose team finished 19-4. “This team exceeded our expectations, the way they became competitive. They grew every week. They got better and better, and started
believing in each other.”
Duanesburg 000 100 0 — 1 6 5
Mechanicville 200 007 x — 9 7 0
Kenney, Powers (7), Lombardoni (7) and Hanson; Alonzo and Liberty.