It may not have been as impressive as its 8-0 sectional final win over Mechanicville, but Greenwich’s 4-1 win over Ticonderoga in Monday’s softball regional semifinal at Moreau Rec was nearly as efficient.
Following the script that won them a third straight Section II title in their previous game, the reigning state Class C champions built enough of an early lead to give Sarah Heimbach a cushion, and the senior left-hander did the rest, giving up five hits and striking out 12 as the 22-3 Wasaren League co-champs moved within one win of Saturday’s state “C" semifinals.
“It felt to me, from a coach’s perspective, like, we’re all right, and just kind of cruising,” said Greenwich coach Greg McGuirk. “But Sarah had quite a few strikeouts, so that’s a good day out of the [pitching] circle.
“Obviously, I think our bats are better than that. I think we can get more runs across on a given day, but if we’re flat and get a 4-1 win, we’ll take it.”
Unlike Friday’s game, where Greenwich did all of its scoring before Mechanicville came to bat, the Witches fell behind when Ticonderoga took a 1-0 lead in the top of the first, getting three of their hits that inning. Third baseman Jaclyn Granger knocked in the run with a two-out single, but Heimbach struck out Nicole Fuller to end the inning.
The Sentinels’ three hits were two more than Heimbach allowed in the Section II title game.
“I try to block it out and not let it bother me,” said Heimbach of opposing runners on base.
“Her back was a little tweaked. It made me a little nervous, that’s why I kept sending Amber [Stewart] over to the other side [to warm up],” said McGuirk. “But she was able to work through it.”
As she did in the sectional final, the left-hander also came up with a big base hit early in the game, driving in leadoff hitter Carolin Strasswimmer to make it 1-1 after one.
Right fielder Courtney Towne, the No. 9 hitter in the lineup, put the Witches ahead for good in the second with an RBI single. Ashleigh Maines made it 3-1 with a bases-loaded infield single, and Heimbach followed with a bases-loaded walk.
“We usually get our runs toward the end of the game,” said Heimbach. “I would rather have them early.”
“It takes the pressure off,” said Maines of getting the lead early in the game. “You’ve still got to play good ‘D,’ but I like getting ahead and getting more runs.
“We definitely want to jump out and get ahead.”
Ticonderoga coach Shelly Young replaced starting pitcher Kylie Austin with Jordan McKee after Heimbach’s walk, and she held Greenwich scoreless the rest of the way.
“She just didn’t get into any kind of groove,” said Young of Austin. “We had to give her a little bit of a chance. But Jordan came in and she pitched a great game.”
“We were off-balance a little. We never really got the timing. We were still on the rhythm of the first pitcher,” Heimbach said. “She [McKee] had a different
motion, different movement, different speed. It took us a while to get back into it. We have to get better at that.”
“I think maybe we got complacent,” said Maines. “We kind of settled in, which you can’t do.”
Heimbach and catcher Mariah Linnett kept the Sentinels off-balance, too. Linnett had her pitcher mix high fastballs with change-ups that resulted in a dozen strikeouts.
“I kind of just see what the batter does. If they swing a lot, then throw what they’re swinging at,” said Linnett. “But I try not to be predictable. That’s the biggest thing.
“It also depends on what the umpire is going to call, because if they’re not going to swing, you want it to be a strike.”
“Mariah does a nice job back there,” said McGuirk. “They have a pretty good relationship. If something’s going radically wrong, I’ll say something,”
Linnett also kept Heimbach focused.
“I just told her she had to relax,” Linnett said. “She’s been pitching for a long time, so I know she can do it. I told her to not think about how big the game was.”
Ticonderoga only had two runners reach second base after the first inning. A walk and hit batter put two on with two out in the fourth, but Heimbach got a strikeout to end the frame.
“I like them not knowing how I pitch, because I feel that’s to my advantage,” she said. “They can hear about what I throw, but they haven’t experienced it.”
Greenwich faces another familiar North Country foe in the regional final when the Witches play Section X champ St. Lawrence at 5:30 Wednesday at SUNY-Potsdam. Greenwich took a 6-0 win when the teams met in the reigional semi last year.
Eighth-grader Hunter Levesque fired a two-hitter, and freshman Kaitlin Delsignore knocked in three runs as Troy beat Jamesville-DeWitt, 6-1, in their Class A regional semifinal at Gillette Road Park in Cicero.
Delsignore scored on a triple by Alina Germinerio in the first inning, then singled in two runs in Troy’s four-run third inning. Delsignore added an RBI single in the sixth for 21-2 Troy, which travels to SUNY-Potsdam for a 3:30 Wednesday regional.
Reigning state Class B champ Chatham also moved into Wednesday’s regional finals, beating Canton of Section X, 12-0, at Potsdam.
Class AA champion Guilderland can move to the state semifinals with a win today against Section III champion Cicero-North Syracuse. That game is set for 4:30 today at Gillette Road Park.
Class D champion Fort Ann plays Section VII champ Crown Point today at 4 at Moreau Rec, the winner going to the state semis.
GREENWICH 4, TICONDEROGA 1
Ticonderoga 100 000 0 — 1 5 1
Greenwich 130 000 x — 4 10 0
Austin, McKee (1) and Palandroni; Heimbach and Linnett.
TROY 6, JAMESVILLE-DeWITT 1
Troy 104 100 0 — 6 10 0
Jamesville/DeWitt 001 000 0 — 1 2 1
Levesque and Hallett; Keeler and Siegel.