MALTA — When facing a pitcher of Calista Phippen’s caliber, softball teams usually do well to get the bat on the ball a few times while she racks up double-digit strikeouts.
In Tuesday’s Section II finals, Schuylerville did more than most teams, as Caitlin Kelleher cracked a home run and the Black Horses put the ball in play.
It still wasn’t enough, as Schuylerville dropped a 6-2 loss in the Class B championship game to the hard-throwing Phippen and Ichabod Crane at the Luther Forest Athletic Fields.
Phippen, the Section II Player of the Year who will play Division I at Marist, held the Horses to three hits with 10 strikeouts and one walk.
“Hey, we defied some odds today,” Schuylerville coach Katie Bottisti said. “She’s a great pitcher, but we made things happen.”
“It was definitely a big change for us — she’s got the speed and movement,” said Horses sophomore pitcher Teagan Andrews, who held the Riders to six hits with five strikeouts. “She’s a great pitcher and I think we did a really good job staying up there with her.”
The second-seeded Horses (18-3) actually jumped out to a 1-0 lead in the second inning, as sophomore Molly Elder reached on an error on a bunt, was sacrificed to third and scored on a wild pitch on a fake bunt by Katelyn Weed.
Kelleher added her solo homer in the fourth, blasting a Phippen offering over the left-field fence.
However, top-seeded Ichabod Crane (19-1) scored three runs each in the third and fourth innings, taking advantage of four hits and three Schuylerville errors to seize the lead. All three of the Riders’ fourth-inning runs scored on two errors.
“The first couple of innings, we really felt like the ball was in our hands and we all felt on top of the world,” Andrews said. “And then we had a bad inning.”
“Then the errors happened and we fell apart a bit,” Bottisti said. “But they didn’t give up, they kept making good contact and putting the ball in play and forcing them to make outs — things people really haven’t done this year (against Ichabod Crane).”
The game marked Schuylerville’s first Section II finals appearance since 2009. It was also the final games for seniors Kelleher, Weed, Emily Vallee and Chrissy Putnam.
“It was a great season — the four seniors led this team and they really wanted it,” Bottisti said. “I told them not to hang their heads today — we left it all out on the field and fell short, but they were the better team.”