By ALAIN St. PIERRE
PLATTSBURGH - A little self-control at the plate went a long way in helping to carry the St. Lawrence Central softball team into the second round of the NYSPHSAA Class C playoffs on Thursday.
“We really showed a lot of discipline and it paid off for us,” said coach Tim Brown after the Lady Larries improved to 20-0 by pulling away to a 9-0 win over Section 7 champion Ticonderoga at the SUNY Plattsburgh diamond.
“It may not have been very pretty but it was effective and now were in the next round,” he added.
The Lady Larries, who entered the game as the top-ranked team in the state according to the latest New York State High School Sportswriters Poll, only connected for three hits against a pair of Ticonderoga pitchers but they worked the Sentinels’ duo for a total of 12 walks with eight of the players issued free passes eventually coming around to score runs.
SLC began turning walks into runs in their first at-bat where freshman Hailee Weeger led-off with a walk then moved to third on a pair of wild pitches. Haleigh Agans drew a walk two batters later and was replaced on secondbase by courtesy runner Jenna Thompson. Weegar and Thompson both raced home on the third wild pitch of the inning. Natasha Barnhart drew a two-out walk and eventually scored from secondbase when a groundball off the bat of Tera Douglas led to the first Ticonderoga error.
A two-out walk to Riley Barton in the fourth inning was followed by wild pitch then an error that allowed her to come around with the fourth SLC run of the game. After being held scoreless in the fifth, the Lady Larries took advantage of three straight walks and a two-out, two-run single by junior Chelsea Savage to push their lead to 6-0. They went on to scored three more unearned runs in the seventh.
“We just made too many mistakes today,” noted Ticonderoga coach Shelly Young after her squad closed out the season at 13-4.
The Sentinels also struggled offensively against SLC senior Lindsey Thayer, who only allowed four baserunners the entire game on two singles, a walk and an error. Thayer wound up with 13 strikeouts and only one Ticonderoga batter reached secondbase.
“The Thayer girl is tough. We haven’t seen that kind of pitching very much this season and our girls had trouble getting their timing down against her,” Young noted.
“Give St. Lawrence credit, they showed a lot of discipline at the plate and they took advantage of the chances that we gave them,” she added.
Sophomore Hannah Ross lasted two outs into the sixth inning in taking the loss. She only gave up one hit, an opposite-field single by Thayer in the fifth, but surrendered 10 walks and uncorked five wild pitches before giving way to senior Kylie Austin, who gave up one run on two hits while walking two and striking out one.
Bailee Gauthier singled with one out in the seventh to account for the third SLC hit. Weegar, Thompson and Liz Lynch all came around to score a pair of runs while Agans drew four walks in four at-bats.
“Getting the early runs was huge for us,” noted coach Brown. “It took a lot of pressure off of Lindsey and she was able to focus on her pitching. We also made the plays behind her when we needed to and that’s what it takes when you get to this point.”
Sadie Hamel bunted her way on to lead off the second inning for the first Ticonderoga hit. Savannah Bezon singled with two outs in the seventh to account for the other.
The Lady Larries will now get set to take on Section 2 champion Greenwich on Saturday at 4:30 p.m. at Moreau Rec Park in Malta. The two teams met in last year’s quarter-final round where Greenwich rallied to claim a 5-4 decision.