MALTA, N.Y. (NEWS10) — The Shenendehowa softball team has had a flair for the dramatic this postseason. So, it came as no surprise that the Lady Plainsmen’s matchup with Colonie in the Sec. II, Class AA championship game Thursday night came down to the wire.
After a 1-0, walk-off win in the opening round of the sectional tournament, Shen followed that up with a come-from-behind, 9-6, extra-inning victory in Tuesday’s semi-final round. And the Lady Plainsmen’s thrilling playoff journey culminated in a 7-6 win over top-seeded Colonie to garner the program’s second sectional championship in the last three seasons.
For much of the game, it appeared Shen was primed to run away with the title. A Morgan Smith RBI, bloop single and Natalia Colone run-scoring double gave the Lady Plainsmen a 6-0 edge heading into the bottom of the fifth inning.
Shen starting pitcher Breanna Hayes toed the rubber in the seventh inning with her team still commanding a 7-2 lead, but the Raiders refused to go down without a fight. Taylor Quinn, Jenny Shafer and Katie Parisi recorded back-to-back-back RBI singles – Shafer’s was a two-run knock – and Colonie was set up with runners on first and second with one out, and the lead down to one run at 7-6.
But Hayes buckled down, inducing a fielder’s choice at third base for the second out of the inning. Hayes forced the next Raider batter into a ground ball to shortstop. Colone made the play, and fired to first for the final out, stifling Colonie’s comeback effort, and securing Shen the 7-6 win.
After the game, Hayes said the key to fighting through a challenging seventh inning was just to block out the unnecessary noise.
“Throughout the season, (I’ve) been working a lot on tunnel vision,” said Hayes. “Focusing on ignoring the cheering, all the people and just throwing to the catcher; hitting my spots, doing what I had to do.”
But there certainly was some noise Hayes not only welcomed, but used to get through those final two outs.
“My teammates believed in me a lot,” said Hayes. “They just cheer me on all the time. My coach has faith in me. I know he believes in me (too).”
Shen head coach Chris Farquharson was impressed with the grit his team showed in their ability to close out the game, and he believes they were able to draw on plenty of moments of adversity faced throughout the regular season to get the job done.
“I was real proud of them; it’s tough with a lot of the runs coming in in the last inning,” said Farquharson. “They could’ve rolled over, but they just kept fighting, and getting each out that they could.”
Shen will advance to the state tournament, and receive a bye into the regional round, where it’ll face the champion of Sec. III at Carrier Park in DeWitt next Saturday, June 3.