AHS softball holds on to defeat Johnstown on senior night

The Amsterdam Lady Rams varsity softball team wasn’t about to let another game slip away in the later innings. Thankfully, the team got plenty of help from their seniors on Thursday night. Braelin Aldi reached base three times and scored a pair of runs, and Alyssa McNulty came through with a key hit in the bottom of the sixth inning to drive in another run as Amsterdam held on to beat Johnstown 8-6 on senior night at Shuttleworth Park.

“They’re a fun group to coach,” Amsterdam coach Brendan Cetnar said of the seniors. “They’re here because they want to play. I’ve enjoyed having them on the team. They’re coachable kids and they listen.”

The Lady Rams starting lineup featured five of the six seniors with only Emily Brodie unable to play due to an injury protocol. The seniors including Aldi, McNulty, Kayleigh Carrero, Lucy Giglio, and Jenelle Pabis made the most of their time in field and contributed in the win, especially McNulty, who came through with the Lady Rams only run batted in (RBI) of the game on a solid single to give AHS a much needed insurance run.

Leading 7-6 in the bottom of the sixth, McNulty stepped to the plate with two out and leadoff batter Emma Patrei at second base. Patrei singled to start the frame and was on base for the fourth time in the contest but had yet to score a run. It looked like she might be stranded again when the next two hitters didn’t move her around, but McNulty, who grew more confident with every inning, lined a single through the middle of the infield easily scoring Patrei.

“Alyssa played very well,” Coach Cetnar said. “She’s always been strong in the field and we’ve been working on her hitting, making better contact. She came through tonight with a great swing.”

McNulty’s run scoring hit gave the Lady Rams a little breathing room headed into the seventh inning. Johnstown’s Alexis Darling reached base with a one out single, and Alex Thiessen was aboard on a fielding error after Patrei struck out Molly Morrison bringing Sydney Darling to the plate with the tying run on base. But Darling’s pop up landed safely in the glove of second baseman Michaela Rust giving McNulty and the AHS seniors reason to celebrate an 8-6 win.

“I was confident,” McNulty said. “I was so into this game today. I was happy and proud of my hit. And, I have to thank Braelin (Aldi) for helping me.”

McNulty’s confidence was evident from the start. She played third base in the beginning of the game and moved to first base midway through where she recorded four putouts including a difficult tag play on Sydney Darling in the fourth inning. McNulty held on to a throw from shortstop Megan Lamont but had to come off the base to get it. She then alertly applied the tag to retire Darling and help AHS maintain a one lead, 4-3 at that point. Moments later, McNulty fielded a sinking throw from third to get Cecilia Mowrey and end the inning. Meanwhile, her teammate Aldi, sparked the Lady Rams offense getting on base and scoring without the benefit of a base hit.

Aldi reached base with one out in the bottom of the first inning after a dropped third strike by JHS catcher Mowrey. The AHS left fielder moved all the way to third on a single by Gianna Quatrini and scored the first run of the game on a wild pitch from Lady Bills starting hurler Jackie Claburn. Quatrini also scored via the wild pitch and AHS led 2-0 after one. McNulty was hit by a pitch to lead off the second inning and moved to third on a bunt single by Ericha Engle as the Lady Rams put the first two batters on base in the home half of the second. Both runners would score on wild pitches to boost the lead to 4-0 after two. Megan Lamont tripled to lead off the AHS fourth followed by a walk to Aldi by Thiessen, the Lady Bills second pitcher of the game, but neither scored due to a base hit. Lamont later singled and scored on a wild pitch in the fifth off Alison Trajilnek making it seven runs but none scored as a result of a batted ball. Aldi scored twice, but had reached base three times without hitting the ball including being hit by a pitch in the second.

Patience at bats and good baserunning were important in the Lady Rams game plan.

“She’s an aggressive base runner,” Coach Cetnar said of Aldi, who had missed much of the season due to injury but was cleared to play by her doctor before the recent Paperniak Tournament in Fonda. “She’s quick and gets good reads on the ball. It was nice to have her back in the lineup.”

Aldi was strong with her glove as well, netting a pair of line drives in the second inning to keep Johnstown off the scoreboard. Johnstown rallied for three runs in the third anchored by a run scoring double from Claburn, who later crushed a leadoff home run over the fence in left-center to highlight a three run sixth cutting Amsterdam’s lead to 7-6. However, this night belonged the Lady Rams and its six seniors. The AHS defense made enough plays when it counted to stay in front. Seniors Carrero, Giglio and Pabis all contributed in the field as did the youngest member of the team Lamont, who had a game high three hits and took a pair of hits away from Claburn, one on a diving grab of a line drive in the first and the other coming in the seventh when she ran back and reached over her head to catch a bloop hit with the Lady Bills slugger leading off the inning. Lady Rams pitcher Emma Patrei kept her composure despite a rocky sixth inning that featured Claburn’s home run and a pair of runs scoring after batters were hit by a pitch. Amsterdam third baseman Morgan Durinick ended the drama in that inning with a leaping catch over third on a pop up by Anna Heroth with Claburn standing in the on deck circle.

“I felt that tonight we definitely worked as a team,” said Aldi, who has been in the Amsterdam softball program since the seventh grade. “We were all positive, and that positivity was key. Everyone kept their heads up.”

Having Aldi back on the field certainly had an impact on the game and will benefit the Lady Rams, who head into the last week with a pair of make up games against Glens Falls and Johnstown, plus a game with Foothills Conference South division leader Scotia-Glenville on Monday at Shuttleworth Park. The Lady Rams will also have a crossover game next week. Aldi is no stranger to tough competition. She was part of a Lady Rams varsity basketball team that was one of the best in the Foothills Council the past two seasons and made it to the Section 2 Class A final this past March. Aldi, however, had to sit out the entire 2015-2016 basketball season due to injury, but was at every game to support her teammates. Her dedication to her team, is unmatched.

“ My teammates,” Aldi said when asked what she will remember most of her time with AHS softball. “I don’t know where I’d be without them. We’re like family.”

“She’s a good teammate,” Coach Cetnar said of Aldi. “The girls love her. She’s a natural leader.”

Aldi and Lamont both scored twice to lead AHS. Patrei reached base in all four of her trips to the plate scoring once, and scattered six hits and struck out six during her time in the pitchers circle. Michaela Kelly also singled for the Lady Rams.

Claburn led Johnstown with a two runs batted in. Her double and home run were the only extra base hits for the Lady Bills. Heroth, Alexis Darling, Molly Morrison, and Sydney Darling all chipped in with singles. Heroth, Morrisron, Sydney Darling, and Mowrey each scored one run in the Johnstown effort.

The Lady Rams game against Scotia-Glenville on Monday is scheduled to start at 4:30pm. Amsterdam will face the Lady Bills again on Tuesday under the lights at Johnstown High School for a 7pm start, and then will be on the road for their crossover game on Wednesday. The opponent for Wednesday’s game has yet to be determined, as has Amsterdam’s date for a make up game against Glens Falls.

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.