GAVAC advances to AGSA final with win over Amsterdam Firefighters

Sydney Szczepanik turned in a strong complete game performance striking out 14 batters, and got plenty of run support from a GAVAC offense that put up four run frames in both the third and fourth innings, as the top seed in the Amsterdam Girls Softball Association’s Advanced division moved on to the championship game with a 12-3 victory over Amsterdam Prof. Firefighters on Monday evening at Shuttleworth Park.

Szczepanik, also a starting pitcher for the Amsterdam High School junior varsity softball team, was on her game early striking out the first batter of the game and sandwiched a pair of ground outs around a single by Sierra Rose. Her counterpart, Katarina Nordby, also a pitcher on the Fonda-Fultonville High School varsity softball team, got into a bases loaded jam in the bottom of the first inning when Kaylee Cappuccio led off with a single and moved all the way to third after a ground out by Szczepanik, a hit by Jordyn Wozniak, and a walk to Karly Power. Nordby nearly pitched out of trouble when Cappuccio was forced out at home on a grounder to third off the bat of Tehya Rodriguez, but Macie Pasquarelli stepped in and lined the first pitch she saw into center field, scoring both Wozniak and Power for a 2-0 GAVAC lead.

“The singles keep moving people around the bases,” GAVAC coach Rich Wozniak said. “I tell the girls all the time that they are as important as a home run.”

Amsterdam Prof. Firefighters got one run back in the top of the second inning, and one in the top of the third. Shelby Crahan and Brianna Prusky put together back to back singles in the second, and Crahan scored on a two out infield single off the bat of Hailey Duma. In the third, Lyndsey Suidy got things started with a walk, moved into scoring position on Sierra Rose’s second hit of the game, and scored on a two out single from Kiana Prusky to knot the score at 2-2 heading to the bottom of the third, where GAVAC would get its home run.

Nordby gave up only a single to Lauren Bush in retiring GAVAC without any further damage in the second inning and looked to keep that momentum building into the third when Amsterdam Prof. Firefighters first baseman Kiana Prusky made an outstanding stop on a grounder by Szczepanik to start the bottom of the inning. However that momentum quickly turned with one swing of Jordyn Wozniak’s bat. The GAVAC shortstop turned on a pitch from Nordby and launched it to the fence in center field and then raced home with the go ahead run. Karly Power followed with a double and Tehya Rodriguez had a hit before Pasquareli picked up her third RBI of the game on a ground out. Mya Jones and Ayanna Rodriguez followed with singles and GAVAC built a 6-2 lead. Szczepanik struck out three of the four batters she faced in the top of the fourth giving her team a chance to quickly pad its lead, which they did in dramatic fashion.

GAVAC put together a two out rally of their own in the home half of the fourth. Cappuccio singled and scored on Szczepanik’s triple. Back to back doubles by Wozniak and Power, and a single by Tehya Rodriguez increased GAVAC’s advantage to 10-2 heading into the fifth.

“The big bats put points on the scoreboard,” Coach Wozniak said. “Karly (Power), Jordyn (Wozniak), Sydney (Szczepanik), and Kaylee (Cappuccio) have done it all year.”

The GAVAC offense had done its part, “Strikeout Syd” did the rest. Szczepanik struck out the first two batters she faced in the top of the fifth, but the Amsterdam Prof. Firefighters loaded the bases on a pair of singles by Britney Bascom and Rose, and a walk to Nordby. The scoring threat however came to an end in the glove of GAVAC third baseman Cappuccio, who chased down a pop up off the bat of Kiana Prusky for one of only two fly ball outs of the game. Amsterdam Prof. Firefighters put up one last run in the sixth with Shelby Crahan scoring on Hailey Duma’s third hit of the game. Szczepanik was perfect in the seventh striking out the side to end the game.

“She’s been solid for us all year,” Coach Wozniak said. “I think all year we’ve given up no more than 30 runs for the whole season. That’s a credit to all these girls.”

Through ten games the GAVAC defense has allowed a total of only 29 runs, less than three runs per game, and has had two wins by shutout. Yet, the bottom of the sixth inning GAVAC’s offense supplied plenty of drama. Jordyn Wozniak tripled to complete her bid to hit for the cycle (single, double, triple, home run in one game). Wozniak reached base four times and score four runs. Szczepanik and Power also singled in the inning to produce the final 12-3 margin. Amsterdam Prof. Firefigthers came up with a pair of excellent defensive plays from Bascom, and another from Kiana Prusky.

Prusky made a diving stop on a fierce one hopper off the bat of Szczepanik in the third inning. The Firefighter’s first baseman spun around and dove for the base to record the out, and later in the sixth inning made a second impressive play in similar fashion off the bat of Tehya Rodriuez. Bascom made a running catch on a fly ball that Cappuccio crushed into center field in the sixth inning and may have even surprised herself as she screamed to her teammates that she caught it.

Both Sierra Rose and Hailey Duma had three hits for the Firefighters and kept scoring chances alive. Rose proved to be the toughest out drilling three solid singles in her first three at bats. Duma did it with hustle beating out three infield hits including a head first slide into the base in the fourth inning. Duma was also the only Firefighters player that did not make an out in the game.

Jordyn Wozniak had four hits in four at bats for GAVAC and hit for the cycle. Teammate Karly Power reached base four times with three hits and also scored four runs. Between the two, they scored eight of GAVAC’ s 12 runs and drove in five runs. Pasquarelli singled in three at bats and accounted for three runs batted in early in the game.

Szczepanik fanned 14 batters in the game and got stronger as the game went on finishing the contest with three straight strikeouts. She scattered ten hits, all singles and walked only four. Szczepnaik even showed she can field her position making a diving stop of grounder headed up the middle to end a threat in the sixth.

The start of the game was delayed as the teams waited for Cappuccio to arrive. The GAVAC third baseman was attending the wake for her grandmother Mary Cappuccio who passed away Thursday at age 87. She and her husband Gaetano were married for over 60 years. Cappuccio held strong and played the game helping her team reach the title contest. AGSA umpire Maria Pasquarelli supplied the means of transportation helping Cappuccio make it to the game.

GAVAC (10-1) will face second seeded Sporoptimist (6-4-1) in the AGSA Advanced division championship game that has been scheduled for a 6pm start on Friday July, 22 at Shuttleworth Park.

The Amsterdam Girls Softball Association will be hosting an Amateur Softball Association (ASA) 16U tournament this weekend at Shuttleworth Park. The Amsterdam Alleycats will be the host for the ten team tournament featuring some of the best high school softball players in New York state.

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.