What began as a nervous, sloppy game Friday night turned into a pitcher’s duel Saturday.
In the end, Greenwich freshman Rachel Hall was just a shade better than Duanesburg senior Tori Powers, as the Witches claimed their fourth consecutive Section II Class C softball championship with a 4-3, 10-inning win at Clifton Common. The game took two days to play, with Greenwich owning a 2-0 lead with two outs and the bases loaded when rain put a stop to play Friday evening.
After each team helped the other score three times in the first inning, Hall and Powers refused to surrender another run until Madlyn Schafer singled in Kali Nolan with two outs in the top of the 10th.
Hall, with a runner at second base via the tiebreaker rule, responded by striking out the side in order to complete the sixth-seeded Witches’ run through the brackets.
“I was thinking I had to do it for my seniors. It’s their last year. I had to make it one to remember,” said Hall, who struck out 15 (including the final five outs) and walked only two.
Powers also got stronger as the game went on.
“I didn’t think it was going to be a 4-3 game after that first inning,” said Greenwich coach Greg McGuirk. “Honestly, I felt we would keep chipping away and get a couple runs here, a couple runs there. I really do believe our demeanor was different. Once Rachel heated up late in the game, you could hear the dugout.”
Neither McGuirk nor Duanesburg coach John Conway knew how his team would respond to the unique circumstances of the game,
“I told them when we got together after the game that I’d never gone home with the bases loaded, two outs and down, 2-0,” he said “I never had to deal with those emotions before.”
The Lady Eagles gave up a third run before they got to hit, but gave Conway the response he was looking for by tying the game.
“They came back in the right frame of mind. They came ready to play,” he said.
McGuirk gave his team a simple message on the bus ride home Friday evening.
“I told them we were in a good situation, but not to get too full of ourselves,” he said.
Top-seeded Duanesburg had two good chances to win.
In the bottom of the seventh, Devon Hennel drew a one-out walk, stole second and went to third when the Witches messed up the most basic of plays — getting the ball back to their pitcher.
Hall picked her teammates up by getting a popout and a strikeout as Hennel was left at third.
In the ninth, the last inning before the game would go to the tiebreaker, which puts a runner at second base to begin each half-inning, Duanesburg loaded the bases on two singles and a misplay in the Greenwich outfield, when right fielder Ali Beck ran into center fielder Sabrina Whitehouse on a fly ball, the ball falling to the ground.
Hall retired the next two hitters on strikes.
“That’s huge maturity for a freshman who’s never pitched at this level. Not even anywhere in that ZIP code,” McGuirk said.
“Both pitchers were phenomenal after that first inning,” said Conway, whose team finished 20-3. “We had opportunities. I can’t explain why we didn’t get it done.”
Greenwich, 15-9, will try for a fourth straight trip to the state semis when it plays the Section VII champ Saturday.
“We knew coming in it was going to be a challenge. But we buckled down and tried our hardest,” said Hall. “It’s always been Greenwich softball like this, whether we have the best record or the worst, we’re always going to come out and play to win.”
Mechanicville avenged a pair of losses in league play by defeating Cohoes, 3-2, in the Class BB-B game.
Erin Maloney drove in two runs in a three-run third, and Kirstyn Alonzo gave up just five hits.
Freshman Aja Kerr hit a two-run single in the seventh to get Cohoes close.
The Lady Raiders advance to the regional semifinals Thursday afternoon at Malta Rec against the Section VII winner.
Emma Downing took a no-hitter into the sixth inning, finishing with a one-hitter as Bethlehem edged Columbia, 1-0, in the Class AA championship game.
Downing gave up just a sixth-inning single to Samara Perry. She struck out only four, but 14-9 Bethlehem played superb defense, with third baseman Stephanie Konas recording four assists and two putouts.
Hailey Prechtel’s RBI single in the sixth inning brought in the game’s only run.
Bethlehem moves to the regional finals, and will play the Section III champion Friday. That game is scheduled for Malta Rec.
Jess Marsh cracked a two-run homer in the fifth inning as No. 1 seed Troy beat Averill Park, 2-0, for its second straight Class A title.
Top seed and defending champ Fort Ann overwhelmed Loudonville Christian School, 14-0, in the Class D final.
GREENWICH 4, DUANESBURG 3 (10)
Greenwich 300 000 000 1 — 4 10 3
Duanesburg 300 000 000 0 — 3 8 3
Hall and Sam. Whitehouse; Powers and Schettine.
BETHLEHEM 1, COLUMBIA 0
Bethlehem 000 001 0 — 1 4 0
Columbia 000 000 0 — 0 1 1
Downing and Rarick; Burns and VanDenburg.
TROY 2, AVERILL PARK 0
Averill Park 000 000 0 — 0
Troy 000 020 x — 2
MECHANICVILLE 3, COHOES 2
Mechanicville 003 000 0 — 3 3 1
Cohoes 000 000 2 — 2 5 3
Alonzo and DeMarco; Dechiaro and Holdridge.