Saturday’s varsity championship game of the Ron Paperniak Memorial Scholarship Softball Tournament between the Fonda-Fultonville Lady Braves and the Amsterdam Lady Rams marked the fourth time in the five year history of the event that the two teams competed for the title. Along the way a rivalry has developed between the two programs and as usual, they saved their best softball for the last game of the day. Lady Braves catcher Allie Krohn had two hits including a tie breaking double and drove in three runs, and Katarina Nordby pitched a complete game as Fonda-Fultonville held off a late rally to defeat Amsterdam 4-3 at Fonda-Fultonville Central School.
“We always play hard when we face each other,” Fonda-Fultonville (FFHS) Coach Kari Callery said. “My stomach is in knots whenever we face Amsterdam because it’s always been a back and forth game. It’s great competition.”
The game certainly was enough to keep spectators on the edge of their seats. The Lady Braves struck first in the bottom of the opening inning when leadoff batter Gianna Carbone reached base on a walk and moved into scoring position on a ground out from Nikki Baker. Miranda Nethaway blooped a single into right field advancing Carbone to third and set up an opportunity for FFHS clean up hitter Allie Krohn.
“She plays the game with such intensity,” Coach Callery said of Krohn. “I’m always confident when Allie is involved.”
That confidence was rewarded when Krohn delivered a two run single into right field giving the Lady Braves an early 2-0 lead. Amsterdam hurler Michaela Rust settled in and retired the next two batters of the first and set down the Lady Braves in order in the second giving a resilient Amsterdam team a chance to respond.
“Between games we worked on her pitches,” AHS Coach Brendan Cetnar said. “She calmed down and threw well in the second game.”
Rust had struggled in the Lady Rams first game against Canajoharie giving up four runs in the first inning before leaving the pitchers circle in favor of Emma Patrei. Rust was more confident in the title game and got four consecutive ground ball outs from Nordby, Brianna Sprague, Linda Conti, and Kelsey Denton as the Lady Rams headed to bat in the top of the third.
One out into the third, AHS rookie second baseman Megan Lamont singled to center field. Lamont was then forced out at second on a ground ball to FFHS shortstop Nethaway off the bat of Gianna Quatrini, who took Lamont’s place on the base paths. AHS left fielder Michaela Kelly followed with a solid single into center field that put the tying run on base, and after Morgan Durinick reached base on a fielding error, the bases were loaded for Patrei, who once again delivered with a two run smash into left-center tying the score at two runs apiece. Momentum had swung in the Lady Rams favor, but the Lady Braves were quick to turn it back their way.
Carbone led off the bottom of the third again with a walk pushing her consecutive at bats reaching base streak to six for the tournament. Rust steadied the Lady Rams getting pop ups from Baker and Nethaway for the first two outs of the inning, but again faced Krohn with a runner on base. The Lady Braves slugger won the battle again, this time with the only extra base hit of the game, a double that plated Carbone for a 3-2 FFHS lead. A chopper to third off the bat of Sierra Grant escaped into left field scoring Krohn to increase the Lady Braves advantage to two, and they threatened to score again after a single by Nordby put runners on the corners, but Lamont snared a liner off the bat of Sprague to escape further damage.
“They did a good job of putting the bat on the ball,” Coach Cetnar said of the FFHS offense. “Allie Krohn hit the ball hard, and they hit it where we weren’t and it helped them. We didn’t get those hits.”
Krohn’s double was her last hit of the tournament. Overall, Krohn had five hits in six at bats in the two games, her three runs batted in were crucial in the Fonda-Fultonville title win.
“She had three RBI’s and a great game overall,” Coach Callery said. “This is a huge win for us.”
The Lady Braves threatened to score again it the bottom of the fourth, but what turned out to be the defensive play of the game kept things close and gave AHS a chance for a late rally. With two out and both Denton and Baker aboard with singles, Nethaway hit a fly ball to right field that was sinking fast. Lady Rams outfielder Martina Hughes fielded the ball on a hop and alertly fired the ball to first baseman Alyssa McNulty to beat Nethaway by a step for the last out of the inning. The play saved two runs and possibly more, as the next batter would have been Krohn, the only batter of the game to have more than one hit.
“It was a great play,” Coach Cetnar said. “A heads up play by Martina, and the second time she’s made that play this year. She knew what to do.”
“I knew I couldn’t catch it,” Hughes said. “It was going to fall in front of me, but I knew where I was and tried to get her at first.”
Hughes was also part of Amsterdam’s next scoring attempt in the top of the sixth. AHS designated player Lucy Giglio singled to start the inning and Hughes went in as a pinch runner and moved all the way to third on a wild pitch and a passed ball. Determined to score, Hughes did not hesitate when McNulty hit a ground ball back to the circle where Nordby fielded it and tossed it back to Krohn. Hughes tried to slide under the tag, but Krohn held her ground and made the play. Amsterdam’s defense was also up to the task and proved themselves in the bottom of the sixth with catcher Ericha Engle throwing out Denton trying to steal second base, and Lamont snagging a line drive with two runners on for the final out. Amsterdam had one last chance to rally in the top of the seventh.
Quatrini’s sharp, one hopper was quickly fielded by Nethaway ranging to her left at shortstop, who then made a strong throw to Grant for the first out of the inning. Kelly, who had reached base safely in her first three at bats made it four in a row by getting on via an error from the FFHS outfield. Kelly later stole second base with Durinick at bat, but Durinick popped up to Krohn keeping her from advancing to third. Patrei walked on four pitches setting up a first and third situation for Rust, who popped one up over the pitchers circle that looked like the end of the game. However, the ball spun out of Nordby’s glove, and Kelly never stopped hustling and scored to cut the lead to 4-3, and leaving Patrei in scoring position at second. Hughes, who stayed in the game in place of Giglio hit another pop up, but this time it landed firmly in the glove of Nethaway for the final out. Moments later, Hughes’ look of disappointment quickly turned to a smile when she was named “Best Defensive Player” of the championship game.
“It was a very uplifting moment making that play at first,” Hughes said.
Krohn was named “Best Offensive Payer” for the championship game. Her teammate, Nordby finished with a complete game, four hitter striking out three.
“It was a complete game,” Coach Callery said. “She did a good job for us today. She earned it.”
The championship game win was the third in the five year history of the Ron Paperniak Memorial Scholarship Tournament. The Lady Braves also won the first two installments of the event that raises scholarship money for Fonda-Fultonville High School students. Amsterdam and Fonda-Fultonville have played in the title game four of the five years with the Lady Rams winning their only title in 2014. Last year, Cambridge defeated the Lady Braves for the crown.
Amsterdam returns to action next week with three games in three days. On Tuesday, the Lady Rams varsity travels to Meco Ballpark in Gloversville for a 7pm contest with the Lady Huskies. AHS also has a pair of home games at Shuttleworth Park with Glens Falls on Wednesday and Johnstown on Thursday. Both home games are scheduled for 4:40pm.
Compass Sports – 2016 All Tournament Team
There were plenty of outstanding performances on Saturday. After having a chance to see all four varsity teams play I put together a list of players that I felt should be recognized as part of an All Tournament team.
Emma Patrei, Amsterdam – Put it simply, Emma is a warrior on the softball diamond. Having to come in to pitch without a chance to warm up and step into the spotlight with the game and perhaps her team’s season hanging in the balance takes a unique quality of heart and ability. She led her team with her glove and her bat, and showed the courage to succeed. It’s that type of play that the Lady Rams will need if they want to make it to sectionals.
Allie Krohn, Fonda-Fultonville – The fact that Fonda-Fultonville Coach Callery said that she’s always confident when Allie Krohn is involved speaks volumes. Krohn had five hits in six at bats and drove in three of her team’s runs in the title game. She is a difference maker in any batting lineup, and is as skilled as any catcher in the game.
Mackenzie Bowerman, Canajoharie – Bowerman pitched a total of 12 innings, more than any other hurler on Saturday, striking out 17 batters over two games, and she’s only a freshman. Build a solid defense behind her and the Lady Cougars will only get better. At the plate, Bowerman had a home run among her four hits and drove in four runs. As Coach Anderson said, she is “dedicated.”
Jenna Vickery, Gloversville – Vickery was a bright spot on a rough day for the Lady Huskies. She belted a home run in the fifth inning against the Lady Braves that probably would have cleared a fence at a distance of 200 feet. Vickery’s three hits were the most for a Gloversville player. She was one of several players in the stands at the championship game and truly has the game in her heart.
Martina Hughes, Amsterdam – Her play in right field took me back to when I first played the game of baseball. You can’t teach that instinct. Hughes knew she wasn’t going to make the catch , but knew where the runner was and knew she still had a play at first. On the base paths Hughes tried to score on ground ball back to the pitcher. Speaking from a coaches perspective, when a runner is that determined to score, stopping her would only have got her caught in a run down. Hughes never hesitated and almost made it. Her determination should be noted because the Lady Rams will need that kind of effort if they want to break a three year absence from sectionals.
Gianna Carbone, Fonda-Fultonville – Carbone scored six runs over two games, and amazingly reached base seven times in eight plate appearances. Her patience in the batters box and smart base running were crucial to the Lady Braves success. Something all good softball teams have in common is a lead off batter who knows how to get on base, and Carbone does.
Alexa Lathers, Canajoharie – Lathers home run in the first inning against Amsterdam generated a lot of excitement for the Lady Cougars. Lathers also had a pair of singles and a run batted in during Canajoharies’ comeback win against Gloversville. She finished the day with three hits and three runs batted in, but she also anchored a Lady Cougars infield making several quick plays with her glove. Lathers snared a pair of line drives against the Lady Rams that could have gone for extra bases, and kept her team in the game. It takes a quick glove to play third base and a ‘no fear attitude’. Lathers certainly has that.
Michaela Kelly, Amsterdam – Whenever the Lady Rams needed a big hit on Saturday, Kelly came through. She led AHS with two hits, two runs and three runs batted in against Canajoharie, and singled and scored to tie the game against Fonda-Fultonville. But, Kelly also shined with her glove making several stops in the outfield that kept the opposing team from putting up a big inning. Left fielders have to be fast on their feet and good with their glove and have a strong throwing arm especially when facing lineups with mostly right handed batters, and Kelly showed she has what it takes.
Katarina Nordby, Fonda-Fultonville – Nordby had recovered from an injury early in the season and had to face a talented Amsterdam Lady Rams team in the title game. She wasn’t overpowering, but she was consistent and tossed a four hitter while letting her defense do the talking. At the plate, she had three hits on the day for the Lady Braves. Good pitchers trust in their defense, and Nordby did.
Megan Lamont, Amsterdam – A true standout rookie. Lamont was called up to the varsity team when injuries and illness were having an impact on the Lady Rams season. She showed she belongs at the varsity level and has helped stabilize the middle infield along with Emma Patrei. Lamont played both shortstop and second base on Saturday and showed her own warrior like mentality when she stayed in the game after sliding into third base and rolling her ankle. Lamont was back on her feet and out in the field the very next inning. When at bat, Lamont reached base four times batting first for the Lady Rams against Canajoharie, and scored three runs. It’s no surprise she’s staying at the varsity level.
Nikki Baker, Fonda-Fultonville – Only Gianna Carbone scored more runs for the Lady Braves than Baker. Her three runs batting in the number two spot helped beat Gloversville. Baker was solid with the glove at second base as well snaring a pair of line drives with runners on against Amsterdam saving four runs. Second base is probably the toughest infield position to play, and Baker clearly has got game.