Fort Ann may have a less-experienced team this season, but few softball programs have as much state-level experience as the Cardinals.
The defending state champions are coming off their ninth consecutive Section II championship, thanks to a 5-2 victory over previously unbeaten Whitehall on Tuesday, and begin Class D regional play on Friday.
The Whitehall baseball team, on the other hand, won its first Section II title since 1989 last Friday with a 9-4 win over Hartford-Fort Edward. The Railroaders open Class D regional play on Saturday.
They are two of several local teams — two in softball, four in baseball — that are playing in state regional games between Thursday and Saturday.
Also, several area athletes make the trip to Middletown High School, where the State Track and Field Championships are set for Friday and Saturday at Faller Field.
Fort Ann (13-6) faces Section VII champion Crown Point in the Class D regional on Friday at 4:30 p.m. at Moreau Rec. The Panthers (11-0) won their fourth straight title 6-0 over Elizabethtown-Westport on Monday, behind Shawna McIntosh’s 13-strikeout no-hitter.
The Cardinals feature a handful of seniors, including ace pitcher Kayla Bailey, who have been mainstays for four or five years.
“It’s special each time, you never know the next time you’ll get back,” Fort Ann coach Jason Humiston said. “We’re so blessed to be in this position. We’ll treat this game like the Whitehall game — we don’t want our season to be done Friday, we want to play to the end of the season. That’s our goal.”
Ticonderoga (12-8) plays Chatham in a Class C regional softball semifinal on Thursday at 4:30 p.m. at Moreau Rec.
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In baseball, Whitehall (14-2) plays Section IX champ Livingston Manor in Class D regional action Saturday at 1 p.m. at Cantine Field in Saugerties.
“Last year we were so close, it left a sour taste in our mouth,” Whitehall coach Keith Redmond said. “Our kids had a ton more drive to win this year, and they’re not satisfied. They know we have bigger fish to fry.”
Schuylerville (15-7), which won its first Section II Class B title since 2005 on Friday, plays Northeastern Clinton in a regional semifinal on Thursday at 4 p.m. at the College of Saint Rose’s Plumeri Complex in Albany. The winner plays Ogdensburg Free Academy on Saturday at a site to be determined.
Ticonderoga (16-2), which won its fourth straight Section VII title, plays in the Class C regional baseball final on Saturday, but awaits the winner of Thursday’s semi between Fort Plain and Norwood-Norfolk.
Bolton-Schroon Lake (12-3), which topped Chazy 4-1 on Saturday for the Section VII title, plays a Class D regional final against Lisbon of Section X this Saturday at 11 a.m. at St. Lawrence University.
In track and field, Hudson Falls is sending the largest area contingent of athletes in Division II (small schools). Leading the way for the Tigers’ boys are sophomore high-jumper Jack Hogan — who cleared 6 feet, 4 inches in the state qualifier — and senior sprinter Jaylen Pritchett in the 200-meter dash and the 1,600 relay. Pritchett is joined on the relay by Xayn Studler-Morris, Ayden Saville and Connor Horrigan.
For the Hudson Falls girls, senior Ashleigh Lacy is qualified in the D-II 200, and will run with Hayleigh Girard, Emily Sherman and twin sister Kayleigh Lacy in the 400 relay.
Other local athletes competing in D-II are Glens Falls senior Thomas Cahill in the boys shot put and discus, Whitehall’s Zoe Eggleston (girls pentathlon), and for the Greenwich girls, Brynne Wright in the 3,000 and 2,000 steeplechase, Quinn Collins (800), Lucia D’Acchille (100 hurdles), and the 3,200 relay of Collins, Nina Sgambelluri, Emily Skiff and Brooke Wright.
In Division I (large schools), Queensbury is represented by Andraya Warner-Davis (girls triple jump), Hailey Ballard (girls pentathlon) and Ryan LaPann (boys 110 hurdles).