BRASHER FALLS — An unlikely seventh-inning rally ended years of NYSPHSAA tournament frustration for the St. Lawrence Central softball team last weekend.
And coach Tim Brown hopes the Larries carry the lessons learned from that comeback forward as they gear up to compete in the Class C semifinals for the first time in four decades.
“I’m honestly not worried about us having a letdown. One of the things that we really stress is that if you are playing softball and you play hard, fortunes can turn in the blink of an eye and that’s just what happened for us last game,” Brown said as SLC gets set to take on Section 4 champion Thomas A. Edison High of Elmira Heights on Saturday at the Moreau Recreational Park in South Glens Falls. The other semifinal at Moreau Park pits Section 5 champion Warsaw against Section 9’s Pine Plains. Both games are slated to start at 1:30 p.m. The Class C title game is set for 5:30 p.m.
“We showed that when you get the opportunity to play, anything can happen and that’s the approach we’re taking. We’ve won sectionals 12 times in my 17 years, but we never made it this far before. We’ve done pretty well for ourselves but I think getting to the final four gives our program a little more credibility,” Brown added. “I know I’m a little relieved to finally be going.”
The Larries enter their semifinal against the Spartans with an 18-1 record that includes an undefeated 14-0 run to the NAC Central Division regular-season title. They followed that up by outlasting Norwood-Norfolk 3-1 for their fourth straight sectional Class C crown before going on stun Section 2 champion Chatham in last Saturday’s state quarterfinals at SUNY Potsdam. The Larries overcame a 2-0 deficit with a two-out, three-run rally in their final at-bat to win 3-2 decision.
A strong senior nucleus that includes four players with four sectional titles under their belts anchors SLC. Leading the way is the battery duo of pitcher Makiah Ramsdell and catcher Kelsy Waite. Ramsdell has started all 19 games. Her record is also 18-1 with an earned-run average of 0.62. In 124 innings pitched, she has notched 271 strikeouts, walked 31 and allowed 65 hits. Only 11 of the 21 runs given up by Ramsdell and the Larries were earned.
Along with being a rock-solid backstop behind the plate, Waite has emerged as the leading offensive threat. She is carrying a .525 batting average with 20 RBIs and 28 runs scored in 61 at-bats. Senior center fielder Hannah Crump, who returned to the softball fold after opting not to play the past two springs, is the next leading hitter for SLC with a .418 batting average and 25 runs scored.
Junior shortstop Maggi Yandoh, who connected for the game-winning, walk-off bases-loaded single with two out on a 3-2 count against Chatham, has been an effective leadoff batter with a .415 batting average, 19 runs scored and 10 RBIs.
Sophomore Christy Smith, who stroked an RBI single and scored the game-winning run on Saturday, is sporting a .382 batting average, while Ramsdell is batting .368 with a team-high 22 RBIs and 15 runs scored and classmate Leah Francis, a four-year regular, is batting .308 with 16 RBIs and 18 runs scored.
“Makiah is a great leader and she has an excellent partner in Kelsy. The two really know each other so well and feed off each other,” Brown said.
Edison (20-3), which features four seniors in its lineup, won second straight sectional title with 9-0 win over Harpursville, which entered tournament as the eighth seed.
The Spartans were seeded second and wound up outscoring their four sectional opponents 46-0 before going on to blank Section 3 champion Pulaski, 3-0, in their state quarterfinal last Saturday in Binghamton.
Senior Bella Willsey has emerged as a one-player wrecking crew for the Spartans, connecting for two-run home runs in her first at-bat in each of the past two games.
She then dominated from the pitching circle to make them hold up as the game-winning hits in shutout victories. She’ll be taking a 36-inning scoreless streak into Saturday.
Senior leadoff hitter Riley Vincent is another top offensive threat, using her speed to get on base and score two of the three runs against Pulaski while trotting home in front of the two first-inning home runs from Willsey.
The core of the Spartans squad won a sectional title last season before falling, 1-0, in nine innings to Section 3’s Sandy Creek in the state quarterfinals.