CHATHAM–Fresh off their Section II Class B softball title the Chatham Panthers defeated Region VII champion Saranac last week to reach the state final four. In order to win their first-ever softball title the Panthers would have to win two games in one day at the Adirondack Sports Complex in Queensbury on Saturday. And using timely hitting and dominant pitching the Panthers did just that, defeating Windsor 2-0 in the semifinals and Mynderse Academy 4-3 in the finals to become state champions in Class B.
The Panthers faced an experienced and tough Windsor squad in their first game Saturday. But Chatham rode the powerful arm of junior ace Kayla Doty, as they have all year, Doty hurled a three-hit, one-walk shutout while striking eight to earn the win. While the Chatham bats were far from lethal, they put enough balls in play to be dangerous, bringing home a single run in both the fifth and seventh innings. Hannah Gregg continued her hot post-season hitting, driving in both runs for Chatham, bringing home Michaela Smith in the fifth and Doty in the seventh.
The victory advanced Chatham to the finals, where they squared off with Mynderse Academy, which had won its semi-final game earlier in the day 6-3. Mynderse players kept up their torrid pace at the plate, touching up Doty for two early runs, but the Panther offense was quick to strike back. Smith drove in Courtney Mesick to cut the lead in half in the bottom of the first, but Mynderse came right back, adding one in the second for a 3-1 lead. With two outs in the fourth Chatham mounted a rally, as Kaitlin Pearson doubled and was brought home by Alli Mesick, who notched her own double. Mesick then tied the game, scoring on a Karsyn Sawyer single.
While Doty took command on the mound, shutting down the Mynderse hitters one after another, Chatham’s offense kept churning. Caitlin Gilligan doubled in the sixth and was driven home by another Sawyer hit for Chatham’s first lead and the eventual game winning run.
Chatham went through the season with just a single loss, finishing 24-1 as the Patroon Conference, Section II and New York State Class B Softball Champions. The scary part of their opposition is that Chatham overall was a very young squad, which is set to lose two players, Sawyer and Courtney Mesick, to graduation.
Following the Panthers’ winning performance in the championship game, Doty was named the Patroon Conference M.V.P., while head coach J.B. Brantley was named the Coach of the Year in the conference. Sawyer and Smith were both tapped as First Team All Conference Players. Courtney Mesick and Karlee Shields were named to the Second Team All Conference Team. Joining the Chatham players on the list were locals Alexis McComb and Michelle Kostszewski of Taconic Hills on the First Team along with Michelle Link and Danielle Barbato both of Taconic Hills and Hailey Hollenbeck of Hudson on the Second Team.