Gardinier tosses two-hitter for Lady Rams softball win

After playing five games in five days, the Amsterdam Lady Rams varsity softball team needed something to give them momentum heading into the last two weeks of the season. A two hit shutout over the fifth ranked Class A team in Section 2 was just the thing. Amsterdam defeated the Queensbury Lady Spartans 8-0 Thurdsay afternoon at Shuttleworth Park for their first home win of the season with sophomore hurler Jessica Gardinier leading the way with 10 strikeouts and getting plenty of support from the AHS defense.

“The defense was perfect,” Amsterdam coach Brendan Cetnar said. “We finally got some outdoor time after all the rain-outs and we finally got a chance to play.”

Queensbury had only six baserunnners the entire game with half of them coming in the first two innings. A leadoff walk to Alyson Sparacia to start the game wasn’t a good sign, but that was erased when AHS shortstop Natalie Vogel fielded a ground ball off the bat of Katelyn Ripley and tossed to second baseman Ella Dybas to get the lead runner. A deep fly ball off the bat of opposing pitcher Celyna Shaw looked even more threatening, but Lady Rams center fielder Kristie Kaczmarek calmly moved under it a few steps from the fence to get the second out. Gardinier then got Lindsay Ziegler to pop up to first baseman Amber Iannotti ending the first inning threat.

“The first inning when they came out strong, we didn’t give up,” said Gardinier. “We just worked together. I don’t doubt Callie (Lindsay).”

Gardinier and battery mate Callie Lindsay provided much of the Lady Rams defense. After striking out 15 Scotia-Glenville batters the day before, the pair kept the Lady Spartans off-balance all afternoon using practically every pitch they knew how to throw.

Queensbury put another runner into scoring position in the second inning on a double by Ashley Rosario, but Gardinier and Lindsay used a change-up and curve ball to strikeout Megan McCane and get a slow roller back to the circle by Cora Streets to strand Rosario.

“We used a lot of change ups today,” said Gardinier. “Which is something we usually don’t do. And we used inside and outside curves.”

“She listened to me,” added Lindsay. “We go with what the umpire is calling.”

Gardinier admitted to knowing how to throw four pitches including her effective change-up. She said that she is working on a “rise pitch” to compliment her strikeout pitches and plans to play for the Amsterdam Alleycats this Summer in the Hudson-Mohawk travel league. The sophomore hurler in her first year on varsity was in command in the third inning with Amsterdam leading 1-0. Gardinier struck out the side and gave the Lady Rams a chance to extend their lead.

Lyndsey Yager led off the bottom of the third with a solid single to right field and moved into scoring position on a fielder’s choice ground ball off the bat of Braelin Aldi. Yager stood at third when the throw was dropped and Aldi stole second on the next pitch putting runners at second and third with no one out. After a pop up to short by Natalie Vogel, the Lady Rams did something they hadn’t done the day before against Scotia-Glenville, they bunched a few hits together.

Back to back singles by Lindsay and Tessa Filiberto, and a double to left field from Amber Iannotti put AHS in front 4-0. It turned out to be all the insurance the Lady Rams would need for Gardinier, who gave up only a walk to Shaw and a single to McCane the rest of the way, and retired the last eight batters she faced.

“They know what they’re doing,” Coach Cetnar said of Gardinier and Lindsay. “They’ve been together since modified, and they’re friends.”

Amsterdam put the finishing touches on the win with a four run sixth inning for the final margin. Kaczamarek, Yager, Braelin Aldi, and Vogel all walked and were aided by singles from Rebecca Pike and Lindsay, who finished the day with three singles and two runs batted in. Aldi scored three runs for the Lady Rams and Yager crossed the plate twice. Every Amsterdam batter either scored or drove in a run.

“We’re finally putting the bat on the ball,” Coach Cetnar said.

Amsterdam used the basic fundamentals to score their first run when Aldi led off the home half of the first with a single and moved to second on a sacrifice bunt by Vogel, who wound up on base via an error. Another bunt by Lindsay loaded the bases before Filiberto’s slow grounder down the first base line scored Aldi.

“Once we got the bunts down, we continued to do it until they showed us they could field it,” Coach Cetnar said.

Amsterdam backed their strong offensive showing with a defense that was up to the task. Kaczmarek made three outstanding catches on an overcast day in center field, all deep drives that could have opened up a big inning for Queensbury. Yager and Aldi also did their part in the Lady Rams outfield with Yager snaring a sinking line drive off the bat of Rosario to record the last out of the fourth, and Aldi getting an outfield assist coming up throwing to Vogel to erase McCane for the first out of the fifth. The only mistake the AHS defense made was a dropped pop up by Iannotti with Shaw at third. The mistake however was not a factor and Iannotti recovered to get the hitter, Sarah O’Brien unassisted on a grounder to first base.

“The great thing is when that pop up was dropped, all the girls kept encouraging each other,” Cetnar said. “They kept supporting each other from the bench and on the field.”

Amsterdam (4-7, 3-6 Foothills Council) will be back in action on Monday at Mohonasen, and then return home for a 5pm contest with Foothills Council South division rival Broadalbin-Perth on Tuesday at Shuttleworth Park. The Lady Rams will also be playing in next weekends’ Ron Papierniak Memorial Tournament at Fonda-Fultonville High School. The Lady Rams are the defending champions of that tournament.

Scott Mulford

Scott Mulford has been covering local sports for over 20 years. He previously wrote for the Amsterdam Star and The Free Press of the Mohawk Valley.