MALTA — Down three runs after an inning of Thursday’s Section II Class B semifinal against Mechanicville, Schuylerville softball head coach Katie Bottisti gathered her team.
She had used a tug-of-war analogy before with her team, and went back to it after a rough start in a win-or-go-home game.
“They just pulled [the rope] a little bit,” Bottisti said. “Are you going to fall or not fall?”
“Sure enough,” Bottisti said after her team’s 9-3 win, “they pulled back and they yanked hard.”
After falling behind 3-0 after an inning at Luther Forest Athletic Fields, Schuylerville scored at least a run in five of its final six offensive frames. After pulling ahead 4-3 in the fifth inning on an RBI single from junior Molly Elder, Schuylerville (No. 6, 13-6) separated from Mechanicville (No. 2, 17-6) in the sixth with three more runs.
“Momentum is a huge thing in softball,” said Schuylerville junior Hannah Klingebiel, who scored the go-ahead run in the fifth inning. “If you don’t have it, the team tends to get down, so we made sure that we got back up after they scored those runs and kept fighting.”
In doing that, Schuylerville earned a championship rematch with Ichabod Crane, which defeated Tamarac 1-0 in its Thursday semifinal. Ichabod Crane defeated Schuylerville in last year’s area Class B final on its way to winning a state championship.
“But I think we’re ready to come back,” Schuylerville junior Teagan Andrews said. “We’re ready this year.”
After a rough start against Mechanicville, Andrews recovered to lead Schuylerville in its semifinal win. Mechanicville junior Alivia Wood had an RBI double to highlight her team’s strong start, but Andrews shut down Mechanicville after that. Following a first inning in which Mechanicville scored three runs on four hits, Andrews only allowed two hits the rest of the way.
“They were hitting me hard,” said Andrews, who struck out seven in her complete-game win and added three hits and two RBIs at the plate. “I had to put my spots a ball, a ball-and-a-half out, in more, use different pitches, up high, low. I had to go everywhere because what I was doing [in the first inning] just wasn’t working, so we had to change everything up.”
After Mechanicville went ahead 3-0, Schuylerville scored a pair of runs in the second inning on back-to-back RBI singles from sophomore Anya Vautrin — who had a three-hit day — and junior Sydney Warmt. Freshman Natalie Myers offered the game-tying RBI single in the third inning, and Klingebiel scored the go-ahead run in the fifth after an interesting trip around the bases.
First, Klingebiel struck out — but the third strike got away from the Mechanicville catcher.
“Right when I struck out, I was really disappointed,” Klingebiel said, “but then everybody was screaming at me to run — and I booked it.”
Klingebiel made it safely to first base, then advanced two bases on a sacrifice bunt from junior Bella Baldwin before scoring on Elder’s hit.
Schuylerville scored three more runs in the sixth and two in the seventh. In Schuylerville’s final offensive frame, sophomore Molly Vianese blasted a solo home run.
“It took a lot of work for us to get here, and I’m really proud of all of us that we came together and won,” Klingebiel said.
“They’re a fighting team,” Bottisti said.
So, too, is Ichabod Crane.
Schuylerville, though, has waited a year for the rematch it gets next week.
“We’re ready,” Klingebiel said. “We’re excited.”
SCHUYLERVILLE 9, MECHANICVILLE 3
Schuylerville 021 013 2 — 9 14 2
Mechanicville 300 000 0 — 3 7 1