SOUTH GLENS FALLS – Heuvelton’s perfect softball season came to an end on Saturday in a 8-2 loss to Section II’s Fort Ann Cardinals in the New York State Class D Championship game.
But with the end of a 21 game-run, the Section 10 champions made school history becoming the first softball team to reach a state championship game after three previous Final Four appearances, under coaches Al Minckler and Mark Henry.
“Fort Ann was the better team today,” said Heuvelton Coach Josie Cole whose team finished the season at 21-1.
“They just played great defense and scored when opportunities came. But I’m just so proud of the way this team battled. We won two extra inning games to get here and we showed that we belong here.”
The Bulldogs earned a championship berth with a splendid 10 inning 7-6 win over 20-2 Arkport of Section 5.
In the semi-final game, Heuvelton erased deficits 3-2, 5-3, and 6-5 against the Blue Jays.
Fort Ann 8, Heuvelton 2: The Bulldogs took a 1-0 lead in the third inning when senior Shelby Williams belted a double to centerfield and later scored on a bunt single by senior Alexis Weidner.
But Fort Ann (21-1), a State Champion in 2012, scored two runs with two outs in the third inning. Junior Cassie Batchelder reached on a error and scored on a single by senior Kaleigh Foran. Foran later scored on a double by sophomore Bri Amodio ending Heuvelton starter Alexis Weidner’s day in the circle. Weidner was charged for two runs on two hits and one walk recording one strikeout. She was hurt by three errors.
The Cardinals made it 3-1 in the fourth inning when senior Emilee Chute tripled with two outs off freshman Paige McCormick and scored on a wild pitch.
Fort Anna generated four runs in the fifth and one more in the sixth for the win.
Molly Bailey lined a single to begin the fifth and Batchelder followed with a single. Foran knocked in Bailey with a single and Amodio stroked a RBI single. After a walk to freshman Allison Vrooman freshman Taylor Foran plated a run on a fielders choice and senior Kimmi Ostrander added a RBI single.
Heuvelton made it 7-2 in the top of the sixth inning after Alexis Weidner singled with one out and seniors Logan Tallman and Alexis Sawyer both reached on a fielders choice. Hannah Thornhill stroked a RBI single scoring Tallman.
Junior Molly Bailey, who allowed just four hits in the game, retired Heuvelton in order in the seventh pitching for her second complete game of the day with five strikeouts and no walks. She also pitched a 7-5 win over Deposit in the semi-finals.
“Molly pitched very well today. She hasn’t pitched two games back to back much this season but today she showed the stamina to do it. We just came out hitting the ball very hard today and we found the holes offensively,” said Fort Ann coach Jason Huminston.
“And defensively we made the plays. We don’t play much small ball only if we have too. I just give my team the green light to swing.”
The free swinging Cardinals struck out just five times in the game and had eight hits.
“It wasn’t the outcome we wanted but we became the first softball team from Heuvelton to reach the finals. That’s an accomplishment that is very rewarding. We had a great year and just look at everyone’s faces. We might be disappointed but we knew we fought hard,” said Weidner.
Heuvelton 7, Arkport 6 10 Innings: Late inning comebacks led Heuvelton Central to the Class D Championship game of the New York State Girls Softball Tournament on Saturday morning.
The Bulldogs erased a 5-3 deficit in the bottom of the eighth inning and scored two runs in the bottom of the 10th after Section 6’s Arkport took a 6-5 lead in the top of the inning.
The Bulldogs, coached by Josie Cole and Eliza Pierce, also erased a 3-2 deficit in the fifth inning.
“We came back three times in this game. I’m just ecstatic on the heart that we played with,” said Cole.
“In softball, the extra inning speed-up rules is something that has been discussed a lot. I don’t necessarily agree with it. I just want to see the best team win and I want the best team to win it on the field. I thought we did that.”
And the win came over major challenges.
Down 6-5 in the 10th, Logan Tallman was placed on secondbase and scored on a throwing error on a bunt by Alexis Sawyer.
With no outs, Hannah Thornhill stepped up and hit a hall foul pop fly just beyond the coaches box. Sawyer aggressively tagged up and darted home and beat an off-balanced throw to the plate by the firstbaseman who made a running catch.
“After not getting the first pitch down for a bunt in fair territory which was very close. I just knew I needed to get the ball in play to give Logan (Tallman) a chance to score. After the throw to first went wild I just raced to second and third. And on the tagup, Coach Cole just gave me the green light,” said Sawyer.
“I just wanted to end it now,” said Cole of the game winning run.
The two runs answered Arkports top of the 10th run where Nicole Gibson was placed on second and moved to third on a bunt by Jenna Thelian. Caitlin Hubic singled to score Gibson.
In the eighth inning the Dogs pulled even at 5-5 when Hannah Thornhill doubled and scored on a double by Rachel Thornhill who scored on a single by Nathalie Barr.
That answered Arkports’ two runs in the top of the inning where Gibson led off with single and stole second. Thelian connected for an RBI single and Hubric later bunted home Theilan.
Freshman Paige McCormick struck out 14 and walked only two in a tenacious 10-inning six-hitter outdueling Sidney Servis who went the distance for Arkport.
Hannah Thornhill rapped two singles and a double for the Bulldogs, McCormick tripled and scored in the sixth inning on a groundout by Rachel Thornhill who also doubled. Barr and Kristie Donnelly added singles.
BULLDOG NOTE: Heuvelton had played in the Final Four three times and hadn’t scored a run until this weekend’s second place finish...Alexis Sawyer received Heuvelton’s New York State Tournament Sportsmanship Award from Section 10 Chairman and former Heuvelton Coach Al Minckler.