CHATHAM–The Panthers softball team lived up to the team’s number-one seed in the Section II Class B tournament last week, as they defeated sixth seeded and former Patroon Conference rival Ichabod Crane 6-1 at Veeder Park in Colonie for Chatham’s first-ever sectional softball title.
Coming into the game Panther ace Kayla Doty had shutdown and shutout Chatham’s first two sectional opponents, while ICC ace Erin Wadsworth was just as dominant, shutting out all three opponents on her team’s way to finals, including a no hitter in a semifinal upset of Cohoes.
The game, expected to be a pitcher dominated affair, ended up with both teams showing off they had plenty of quality bats as well, and saw Chatham take advantage of every little mistake the Riders made to score six runs. Each pitcher allowed runners early, but got out of jams through the first three innings.
Chatham, the visiting team, struck for the game’s first run in the fourth inning. Karlee Shields reached base on a fielder’s choice and stole second with two outs; Caitlin Gilligan then drew a walk to bring up Courtney Mesick. Mesick ripped a single to center, which brought home Shields for a 1-0 lead.
The Riders fired right back in the bottom of the inning, as Reychel Webster reached on a one-out fielder’s choice and stole second. Erin Wadsworth then reached on an infield single to bring up Jenn VanAlphen, who singled home Webster to tie the score. With two runners on the Riders offense stalled, stranding two runners to end the inning.
The offense continued in the top of the fifth, as Leah Layton drew a walk, moved to second on a sac, moved to third on a wild pitch, then came home on another wild pitch. Doty reached on a two-out fielder’s choice and moved to third when Michaela Smith laced a hard hit ball off the outstretch glove of ICC’s second baseman. A hard hit ball by Shields led to an error at short and brought home Doty to extend the Chatham lead to 3-1.
In the bottom of the fifth the Riders again threatened, as Jess VanAlphen and Brittany Wilson each reached on singles. But an attempted sac bunt was popped up by the next batter and turned into an inning ending double play. Chatham just kept grinding, as Layton singled in the sixth and eventually came home when a pop fly by Karsyn Sawyer was dropped by the left fielder. Chatham closed out the scoring in the seventh when Doty and Shields scored on a two run single by Hannah Gregg.
Doty went the distance for Chatham, allowing just one run, scattering seven hits, no walks and striking out six. Wadsworth allowed six runs, four earned on eight hits, while walking four and striking out eight in the loss.
Ichabod Crane will lose Wadsworth, Jess VanAlphen, Brittany Wilson, Karlee Moore, Mandi Adee and Krista Konderwich to graduation. Chatham moved into the Regional round of play and was scheduled to play the Section III champion this week, again at Veeder Park.