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Warriors blank Whitehall in softball semis

From the Prep Roundup: Stories, photos, scores and brackets for sectional playoffs series
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Softball: Lake George vs. Whitehall

Lake George’s Samantha Gorey prepares to round third en route to scoring the game’s first run Saturday at Whitehall.

WHITEHALL — Lake George checked nearly every box in earning its Class C semifinal win Saturday. Not every one, but that means there’s something in reserve for the final.

The third-seeded Warriors (13-2) were opportunistic, sharp on defense and, once they had the lead, long-ball hitters in a 7-0 win over second-seeded Whitehall in the Section II Softball Tournament.

Lake George visits top-seeded Chatham on Tuesday at 4 p.m. to play for the title.

The Warriors’ defense stepped up in the early innings. In the bottom of the second, Whitehall singles from Vinna Jensen and Braydee Benjamin had Railroaders on third and first, respectively, with one out. Lake George executed what it thought to be a 5-3-2 double play, but the umpire ruled that Ava Ruby was safe at first.

The important part, however, was that Jensen was out at the plate after a solid throw from Makena Barber and tag from Tyler Bergman. Winning pitcher Madeline Gorey then notched the first of her four strikeouts to end the threat.

In the bottom of the third, Lake George got two outs on forces from throws by shortstop Rachel Jaeger and third baseman Shannon Starrett.

The nicest fielding play came in the bottom of the fourth. Whitehall (12-2) had runners on first and second with one out, but Jaeger fielded a hard grounder, tagged the runner going to third and rifled the throw to first in time for the double play.

“We started off with a couple errors in the infield, but we got our energy up and got a couple good plays, and after that we just took off,” Jaeger said.

Jaeger said she saw the Whitehall runner out of the corner of her eye.

“I got the ball and I knew I was, like, ‘All right, I can tag her,’ and then I was thinking (first base) right after that,” Jaeger said.

“The play that Rachel made, any of the girls can make,” Lake George coach Kim Zilm said. “I’m confident in any of them to make it, so that’s really nice to have that. We weren’t errorless, but we have to have a short memory on those. We have to learn and move forward.”

Whitehall assistant coach Chris Bascue said Lake George has no defensive weakness that it could see.

“We felt we had to put the ball in play, move runners station to station, try to get runs across and hopefully our defense would be as solid as theirs,” Bascue said.

Lake George took a 1-0 lead in the top of the third. Samantha Gorey led off with a walk and moved to second on Jaeger’s single. With two outs, Whitehall committed an infield throwing error to allow Samantha Gorey to score.

The Warriors added another run in the fourth. Mattison Stark reached first on another infield error. Barber’s single put her on second and Samantha Gorey’s sacrifice put her on third. Stark then raced across home plate on a wild pitch.

As if a two-run lead wasn’t daunting enough for Whitehall, Lake George’s ability to slug the ball came next. Starrett homered off the center fielder’s glove right at the fence for a 3-0 lead after four and a half.

Having a lead helped Starratt, but she also said the team’s positive energy throughout the day was infectious.

“With the team cheering you on, it helps you feel confidence,” Starratt said. “You just breathe in the box and you just go and hit. The team’s got your back.”

In the seventh, Starratt and Alli Zilm each added two-run doubles to provide more than enough cushion.

Despite the loss, Whitehall pitcher Madison Gould had a solid outing with nine strikeouts. Offensively, Whitehall had its leadoff batter get hits each of the first four innings and five times in the game.

“We wanted to definitely get on the board first,” Bascue said. “We had the play at the plate, which was really close. Kudos to them, they’re a great hitting team, they play defense; I don’t think they made any mistakes today.”

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