Greenwich picked the worst possible time to play its worst game of the season.
The Witches saw their hopes of a second consecutive state Class C softball title wiped out Saturday morning by a combination of missed opportunities, bad luck and an uncharacteristic shaky defense. Section III champion Sandy Creek used that combination to break open a close semifinal and advance to the state championship game with an 11-1 win at Morse Field.
A young Troy team also fell in the semis, rallying from an early three-run deficit only to see 2012 state champ Sayville retake the lead for good and grab a 6-4 win in a Class A state semi played at the Adirondack Sports Dome.
Sandy Creek pitcher Chelsea Claflin retired the first 10 Greenwich hitters in the “C” semi as the Comets led, 1-0, on a second-inning run.
Greenwich had a great chance to take the lead after loading the bases with two out.
Alexis Case then hit a ball down the third-base line that sent all of her teammates scurrying home, only to have the ball ruled just foul.
Greenwich coach Greg McGuirk felt a letdown after that play.
“The kids were all excited. We just put three runs across,” he said. “But, oh, no, we didn’t. The kids have a ton of character and are usually able to work through things like that.
“I felt very strongly that that ball was in and we had some runs across. We battled back, but obviously, it was not enough.”
Sandy Creek tacked on three runs in its half of the inning,
using four singles by the bottom two-thirds of the order to take a 4-1 lead. The Comets added a run in the fifth, and pushed across six more in the sixth against a tiring Sarah Heimbach, with two errors figuring into the scoring.
Heimbach, who tweaked her back in Monday’s regional semifinal win, appeared to have trouble finishing her pitches in the latter innings.
“I don’t want to make it sound like an excuse. When it was bothering me that bad, it was almost distracting. I’m not doing the best I could because something’s hurting,” she said.
“Things didn’t go our way. It’s not the day you want that to happen,” said McGuirk, whose team finished 23-4. ”Defensively, Sandy Creek was great. Their pitcher did a nice job.
“But the name of the game today was defense, and their defense was a step up today. I don’t think that was our ‘A’ game defensively.”
The state semifinal was the third in as many years for several of the Greenwich players, who also have enjoyed postseason success in the fall.
“Some of these girls are [field] hockey players, as well,” said McGuirk. “How many kids get to six or seven state tournaments in their high school career?”
“It’s been great,” Heimbach said of the run of success. “Not a lot of teams make it to the state tournament three years in a row. That alone is something we can be proud of.
“It’s not always about coming out on top, but I don’t like to lose.”
Sayville put Troy under pressure with a three-run first inning. But the young (three senior starters) Lady Horses immediately fought back.
The Big 10 and Section II champs scored a run, but left the bases loaded, in the third, then took their only lead one inning later when freshman Lexi Lewis, the No. 9 hitter and one of three ninth-graders in the Troy lineup, blasted a three-run homer to dead center.
Sayville came back and tied the game in the home fourth, and Golden Flashes pitcher Julia Simpson smacked a two-run single in the fifth that held up as the winner.
“I knew it was going to be a battle. Considering our age, I think we did a phenomenal job,” said Troy coach George Rafferty, whose team finished 23-3 with only three seniors on the roster. “I’m very proud of these girls, what they’ve done and what they’ve accomplished, making history for Troy High. It’s hard to lose, but, hopefully, we’ll be back.”
“Even when we were down, we had the resiliency to come back. It’s life. Hopefully, you learn.”
“We played as well as we could. I’m proud of everyone,” said senior Adrian Shufelt. “I’m so glad to be a part of this team. I’m going to miss it.”
“Now we have to learn from our mistakes and, hopefully, come back next year,” said sophomore shortstop Alina Germinerio, whose one-out single in the seventh brought the tying run to the plate.
Troy, which won both its sectional opener and final in its last at-bat, had its 3-4-5 hitters come up in the seventh, giving Rafferty hope.
“I was hoping for history to repeat itself,” he said. “We talked about it before the game. We’ve been down before, and if we get down again, believe in yourselves. You can fight back.
“They did it again. The outcome wasn’t what we wanted, but we battled back again.”
Lewis finished 3-for-3, and sophomore catcher Victoria Hallett had a pair of hits for Troy, which won its first sectional title since 1987.
SAYVILLE 6, TROY 4
Troy 001 300 0 — 4 11 2
Sayville 300 120 x — 6 11 0
Levesque and Hallett; Simpson and Kaczmarek.
SANDY CREEK 11, GREENWICH 1
Greenwich 000 001 0 — 1 5 2
Sandy Creek 010 316 x — 11 10 0
Heimbach and Linnett; Claflin and White.