June 3, 2013

Ti faces an old stumbling block


TICONDEROGA — Ticonderoga was right with Greenwich in last season’s NYSPHSAA Class C softball regionals, trailing 2-1 after five innings.

The Section II champion Witches broke the game open with a four-run sixth inning, won 6-1 and later captured the state title.

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The Sentinels, after winning their seventh straight Section VII crown, are once again in the state tournament – and once again Greenwich stands in their way.

The two teams will play in today’s 4 p.m. first-round regional game at Moreau Recreational Park in South Glens Falls, with the winner advancing to Wednesday’s regional final against Section X’s St. Lawrence at SUNY Potsdam.

Greenwich, ranked ninth in the state, dispatched perennial power Mechanicville (ranked 10th) in an 8-0 drubbing in the championship game for its third straight Section II title.

“I think we’re right there,” Ticonderoga co-coach Shelly Young said. “I went and watched them play Mechanicville the other day, and they’re a good team, but I think if we play at our best we can be successful.”

Young and fellow co-coach Shannon Huntington both said confidence will be a key to getting Ticonderoga’s first win at the state level since 2010.

“I really think we can give them a good battle, possibly win,” Huntington said. “Or we could also be blown away. It depends on the day and the girls’ confidence level.

“We tried to boost their confidence (Sunday night) to let them know we feel they’ve played teams that are comparable to Greenwich. They just have to believe it.”

Ticonderoga (12-5) is coming off a dramatic showing in the Section VII postseason as the top seed, needing two walk-off wins to advance into the state tournament.

The team got a boost with two JV players called up for sectional play began, eighth grade shortstop Haliegh Wright and sophomore leftfielder Nicole Fuller.

Tied 2-2 with Northern Adirondack in the semifinals, Fuller doubled to lead off the bottom of the eighth and scored the game-winner on an errant throw during a sacrifice bunt attempt.

Trailing 7-6 in extras against Lake Placid in the title game, Wright doubled to put two runners on and came around to score the game-winner on a two-RBI double by senior Katie Palandrani.

“I think it helps them having been challenged more this year, and now that they see that they can come back, I think it’s great,” Huntington said. “I think our girls have a lot of guts this year.”

The Sentinels have two experienced arms they can rely on in senior Jordan McKee (8-3) and junior Kylie Austin (4-2). The pitching depth was increased with the addition of freshman Hannah Ross from the JV team.

Greenwich (21-3) didn’t have the easiest path to winning its third straight Section II title. In the semifinals, the Witches were no-hit through eight innings but the game was scoreless thanks to strong pitching and defense.

Ashleigh Maines, who scored the go-ahead run against Ticonderoga last year, led off the bottom of the ninth with a single and later scored the game-winner on a grounder from Easton Murray.

The championship game wasn’t so dramatic. Against top-seeded Mechanicville, Greenwich jumped out to an 8-0 first-inning lead that ended up as the final.

Senior southpaw Sarah Heimbach pitched a one-hit shutout for the win, extending Greenwich’s scoreless streak to 21 innings – the equivalent of three games. She also started the early offensive onslaught, opening the scoring with a two-RBI triple.

“We haven’t had to hit against a lefty,” Young said. “The first five especially hit the ball hard, and they have quite a few returning players … five of their players return from last year’s squad, so we know they’re good.

“Their pitcher is very good. We just have to hit and hit early. We can’t wait to hit in the late innings like we have against NAC and Lake Placid.”



2012: First-round bye; lost to Greenwich (II), 6-1, in regional final.

2011: Lost to Norwood-Norfolk (X), 10-3, in regional first-round game.

2010: Defeated St. Lawrence (X), 9-2, in regional first-round game; lost to Hoosick Falls (II), 5-2, in regional final.

2009: Lost to St. Lawrence (X), 7-0, in regional first-round game.

Follow @ryanhayner for updates on today's games.