Mechanicville may have come up short in its bid for a state softball championship on Saturday, but the future looks good for the Lady Raiders.
Coach Don Arceneaux loses just three starting seniors — pitcher Kirstyn Alonzo, first baseman Kim Thompson and right fielder Jami Frosell — from a team that finished 20-5 and got better as the season progressed.
The biggest concern will be finding someone to replace Alonzo, who pitched her team to the state Class B semifinals after being in the circle for two years when the Lady Raiders failed to get out of the section.
“It’s hard when you’ve got a nice pitcher like that leaving,” said Arceneaux of Alonzo, who is headed to SUNY-Cortland, after the state semi. “She pitched such a great game. She really matured this season.”
Alonzo was trying to join former teammates like Alysa Russell and Anna Arceneaux as a state champ.
“The difference the last two years and this year is I don’t get nervous any more,” Alonzo said. “If somebody makes an error, it’s OK. I’m a senior now. I’m the one who has to pick them up.
“When I was the younger one, and I had people like Alysa Russell on the team in 10th grade, they were always picking me up. ‘It’s OK. We’ve got it.’ ”
Leadoff hitter and center fielder Devon Scott and left fielder Haley Rivers both have two more years of varsity ball ahead of them. Erin Maloney, Kali DeMarco and Kaile Kenyon will be seniors next season.
DeMarco and Kenyon both settled into new positions this year and helped solidify the lineup. DeMarco went from shortstop to catcher. Kenyon moved from first base to the other corner infield position.
“They all can play more than one position,” said Arceneaux. “They’re all softball players.”
The biggest plus for Arceneaux will be having shortstop Amanda Kenyon for three more years.
The younger Kenyon can make all the plays, has a strong arm and was a solid bat in the No. 6 hole for Mechanicville.
“She’s phenomenal. For a freshman, she really is,” said Arceneaux, who completed his 12th season as head coach. “She’s a great hitter. Great player. Nothing rattles her. For a young kid, she just plays. I don’t think anything affects her.”
Kenyon hit a grand slam in Mechanicville’s Class B sectional championship win over Chatham.
“She’s a good stick,” said Arceneaux. “The kid was batting under .200 halfway through the season, and she ends up hitting .470.”
The 2-0 loss to Section III’s Solvay in the state semis was only the third time Mechanicville had been shut out.
Cohoes beat the Lady Raiders, 4-1, in the season opener, and Mechanicville fell to 1-2 when Schalmont’s Lauren Maher shut them out two games later.
Arceneaux’s team wouldn’t lose again until the league rematch with Cohoes, and also dropped a game to Nanuet in a tournament at the Mudville Complex.
Thompson expressed an opinion shared by her teammates when she pointed to the early season as a key to the late-season success.
“We never would have expected to get here,” she said, recalling the first few weeks of the season. “It was great we got here. By losing early in the year, I think it helped us at the end. We got it out of the way.”
Next year will also bring a new league, as Mechanicville moves to the Wasaren League.
For now, Arcenaux wants the team to take a positive feeling from the school’s first appearance in the state semis since 2011.
“I just wanted to cheer them up. I was proud of them,” Arceneaux said after the team met following the loss to Solvay. “I told them there’s only one team that wins the state title every year.”