Two years ago, there were a lot of nerves.
“It’s different because we’ve been there before,” Ballston Spa senior Sarah Pritchard said.
In 2016, Ballston Spa made its first appearance in the softball state tournament semifinals. That day saw the Scotties eliminated in the Class AA semifinals, leaving Ballston Spa a win shy of playing later that day for a state championship.
This year, the Scotties will look to take their next step as a program when they take on Section VIII’s East Meadow 9 a.m. Saturday at Moreau Recreational Park.
“We’ve just been keeping to our routines this week and staying humble,” Ballston Spa head coach Amanda Fifield said.
Ballston Spa is one of five Section II champions set to play in the 2018 semifinals. In Class A, Averill Park will play Section IV’s Maine-Endwell; in Class B, Ichabod Crane will take on Section VI’s Olean; Greenville will play Section VI’s Chautaqua Lake in Class C; and, in Class D, Fort Ann will play Section III’s Fabius Pompey.
Semifinal games in Class AA and Class B will take place at 9 a.m., at 11:30 a.m. for Class A and Class C, and at 1:30 p.m. for Class D. Championship games for Class AA and Class B are scheduled for 1:30 p.m., at 4 p.m. for Class A and Class C, and at 5:30 p.m. for Class D.
Ballston Spa is looking to win its program’s first state championship, as well as its school’s first-ever solo team state championship. (Earlier this decade, Ballston Spa won a pair of girls’ Alpine ski state championships with a merged team with Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake.)
Ballston Spa junior Megan McMahon said the Scotties are ready to improve upon their state semifinal showing from 2016, when they lost 4-3 to Section VI’s Orchard Park.
“We had energy that year,” McMahon said, “but it can be higher this year.”
Here are five things to know ahead of this weekend’s state tournament softball action.
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Three semifinalists are defending state champions.
That group includes Class AA’s East Meadow of Section VIII, Class A’s Maine-Endwell of Section IV and Class D’s Deposit of Section IV.
Maine-Endwell has won the last two Class A championships, while Deposit has won the last three Class D titles.
Section II strength
Section II is the only section with a representative in each classification.
Section VI has four teams left, Section IV has three, and Section III and Section IX each have two.
Ending a drought
Section II has not won a state championship since 2015.
Before missing out on winning a state title in any of the five classifications in 2016 and 2017, Section II had won at least one state championship in four consecutive seasons.
Twice during that four-year stretch, Section II won a pair of state titles.
One to watch
This week, Ichabod Crane senior Calista Phippen collected her second consecutive Gatorade New York State Softball Player of the Year award.
The numbers for Phippen, set to pitch next year for Marist College, speak for themselves. In 134 innings of work, Phippen has struck out 324 batters and allowed two earned runs.
Phippen has struck out more batters per inning on average — 2.4 — than total earned runs she has allowed.
A year ago
Last year, four state championship games ended with 1-0 scores.
The other state championship game ended at 4-3.
In the semifinals, one game featured 27 runs. That game’s winner was East Meadow, who scored 17 runs — a total equal to, or more than, every other semifinal’s total scoring.