MOREAU — Back on the same field where its 2018 campaign ended with a loss in the state championship game, the Ballston Spa softball team earned its chance Saturday to play for a second consecutive year on the season’s final day.
“We definitely want redemption,” Ballston Spa junior Lauren Kersch said after the Scotties topped Jamesville-DeWitt 5-1 at Moreau Recreational Park in the Class A state quarterfinals.
That victory sends Ballston Spa to next Saturday morning’s state semifinals at Moreau Recreational Park. With a win in the semifinals against Section XI’s Sayville, the Scotties would play later that day against either Section I’s Walter Panas or Section VI’s Williamsville East for the state title.
A year ago, Ballston Spa fell in the Class AA state championship game to Victor on Moreau Recreational Park’s “A” softball field. Not long before Saturday’s first pitch on that field, Ballston Spa head coach Amanda Fifield brought up that defeat to her current squad that boasts a number of returning starters from last season.
“Who,” Fifield asked her players, “is ready to avenge this field?”
Already, it had been on their minds.
“Oh, definitely,” Ballston Spa sophomore Ana Gold said. “That last game we had last year, it was heartbreaking. We don’t want the same feeling this coming Saturday, so we’re just going to put the work in this week and hope for the best outcome.”
Against Jamesville-DeWitt (Section III, 20-2), Ballston Spa (21-3) quickly got to work extending its season one final week a few days after it won its third Section II championship in the last four years.
Gold hit a solo home run in the first inning to put Ballston Spa on top. Then, after Jamesville-DeWitt sophomore Katie White answered with a game-tying home run in the top of the second inning, junior Caroline Srokowski put Ballston Spa ahead for good in the inning’s bottom half with an RBI squeeze bunt that scored sophomore Halle Wright.
“I just knew I had to get it down,” said Srokowski, who also reached base on the play. “I knew as long as I got the bunt down, she’d score for us.”
Ballston Spa added two more runs in the fourth inning on an RBI single from senior Megan McMahon that scored junior Paige Davis, as well as junior Katelyn Hilko after an error in the Jamesville-DeWitt outfield. The Scotties scored again in the fifth inning on an RBI single from Davis that scored Gold.
“It was awesome for all of us. It was kind of revenge,” Srokowski said. “Even though it wasn’t the state championship game, we were on the same field and we really brought the intensity.”
While Ballston Spa’s offense did its part, Kersch made sure the Jamesville-DeWitt bats stayed quiet. Kersch only allowed three hits and struck out eight.
Meanwhile, Ballston Spa’s defense turned in several highlight plays, including a game-ending one from Davis that saw her make a diving stop at third base and throw out the runner from her knees.
“If we do the little things the right way, then we can win it,” Fifield said. “That’s what we did. We gave up one home run after we had one, so at that point it’s a new game, so just keep playing. Keep doing what we do.”
That needs to continue next weekend, too.
“We have to stay focused and stay humble,” Kersch said. “We can’t go in thinking we’re going to blow anyone out.”
But the Scotties will go into next weekend’s action confident. They’ve won their last 11 games, and the last one in that streak sets them up for their return trip to the season’s final day.
“It’s incredible,” Fifield said. “To be able to be here back to back, not a lot of teams get that opportunity to do that.”
Jamesville-DeWitt 010 000 0 — 1 3 3
Ballston Spa 110 210 X — 5 8 2