Reprinted with permission from the Times Union
KINDERHOOK – Ichabod Crane’s reign as Class B state softball champion ended with a bang-bang play at third base on Saturday afternoon, June 15.
An accurate throw from Ardsley left fielder Sami Blackman just caught senior Gabbie Cox at third for the final out as the Riders fell 6-5 in a Class B state semifinal at Moreau Recreational Park.
Afterward, Riders head coach Tracy Nytransky and Cox shared a long hug in front of the dugout.
“She left it out there,” an emotional Nytransky said. “All the seniors. You’ve got to feel for them.”
Ardsley scored five runs in the sixth inning to overcome a 3-1 deficit.
But the Riders (22-2) weren’t quite ready to relinquish the championship trophy they earned last year. With one out, Laney Altomer singled and pinch hitter Cam Phippen doubled her to third.
After a popout, Cox drew a walk to load the bases. That brought up Brittany Futia, who ripped a two-run base hit to left, but Cox was barely thrown out trying to advance to third on the play.
“It was very close,” said Nytransky, also the third-base coach. “I’m not an umpire, so I’m not going to tell you safe or out.”
Ichabod Crane jumped to a 2-0 lead in the first as Jenna Downey hit a two-run single to knock in Emma Scheitinger and Cox. Scheitinger reached on an error, Cox singled and they advanced to second and third on a sacrifice bunt by Futia.
After Ardley’s Taylor Macri homered in the top of the fourth to cut the lead in half, Altomer answered with a solo blast in the bottom half of the inning to make it 3-1.
But the Panthers broke through in the sixth on a rally aided by four walks and an error on the shortstop. Blackman delivered a decisive blow with a two-run double.
“Bella (Milazzo) pitched a great game,” Nytransky said. “She got squeezed a little bit, the whole game really, and it made her throw the ball down the middle a little more, gave them a couple of more opportunities to hit the ball. But she pitched beautifully.”
The Riders made it back to the state’s final four this season despite graduating star pitcher Calista Phippen, who had an excellent freshman season at Marist this year.
“Beginning of the season, I wasn’t really sure,” Nytransky said. “You never know what your pitchers are going to do, if they’re able to deal with the pressure … Bella was able to do that this year.”
Ichabod Crane loses five seniors from a team that fell two wins short of its third state title.
“We had our chance,” Nytransky said. “We did the best we could. We battled back and we gave ourselves a chance and they made one great play at the end that sealed the deal.”
Ardsley (24-3) went on to beat Oneida 5-0 on Saturday for its first state title.
To contact reporter Mark Singelais email