CHATHAM — The player who hit it thought it would be a home run. Both head coaches thought so too, and probably most of the fans.
There was one person, however, who didn’t. And it was her dramatic catch that helped give Chatham its second consecutive Class C softball title over Lake George.
Center fielder Abby Taylor’s catch at the fence, robbing Lake George’s Tyler Bergman of a three-run home run in the top of the third inning, proved to be the biggest play in the top-seeded Panthers’ 4-1 win over the Warriors in the Section II Softball Tournament on Wednesday.
With her back against the fence, Taylor reached over her head and snagged the ball to end the half-inning and take a lot of wind out of Lake George’s sails.
Two physical errors, one shared mental error and a two-RBI single from Taylor had given Chatham a 4-0 lead in the second inning.
Lake George started the third with Mattison Stark getting hit by a pitch. Samantha Gorey added a one-out single down the left field line to move Stark to second. Olivia Gates’ single to right drove in Stark and sent Gorey to third.
With two outs, Bergman — who will play softball for the University of Missouri in the fall — got a hold of a pitch and sent it to the deepest part of center field.
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Canajoharie scored three times in the seventh to beat Lake George 7-6 in the Class C baseball title game on Wednesday.
“Well, it sure contacted my bat fantastic; I didn’t even feel it come off,” Bergman said. “For a moment I was really hyped because I thought it was out, but that center fielder made an amazing play that not many can make. It is what it is.”
“I thought it was over, for sure, without a doubt,” Lake George coach Kim Zilm said. “She hit it solid, it had a nice flight to it. I was elated and then I was, like, huh? (Taylor) made a great catch.”
“Game changer. I thought it was gone,” Chatham coach John Brantley said.
“At first I didn’t think it was out, and all of a sudden it just kept traveling and I was, like, I better back up,” Taylor said. “I didn’t think of where the fence was at all. And when I caught it, I looked back and was, like, ‘I robbed a home run!’’ I had no idea.”
Bergman’s shot was the most solidly struck ball in the whole game. For the rest of the afternoon, Lake George couldn’t figure out the slower-but-rotation-rich pitching of Emily Mesick. Lake George had 15 pop-up outs.
“We’ve seen a lot of fast pitching coming up to this game, and her pitching was spot on, but slower than we normally see,” Bergman said, “and I think everybody was overly anxious and revved up. She pitched a real good game.”
“We couldn’t get them down for whatever reason. It might have been the spin, too, it’s hard to tell,” Zilm said.
Chatham’s productive second inning started with Haley Pulver reaching on an infielder’s throwing error. Olive Mountain’s one-out single moved her to second. Mesick then reached first base on another error to load the bases. Lake George got the second out, but the bases were still loaded when Hannah Taylor was hit by a pitch to bring the first run across.
Abby Taylor’s two-run single to right field made it 3-0 and put runners on the corners. Adryanna Jennings then hit a pop-up right between the second baseman and shortstop, but both, sensing a collision, stopped as the ball dropped between them and brought the fourth run home.
“That one inning made or broke us. And errors — not the greatest as far as our defense showing. It’s not the team we are,” Zilm said.
Madeline Gorey finished with four strikeouts from the pitching circle, as well as a single and double offensively.
Bergman said this year’s team built a great bond.
“It’s been such a privilege to finish my last year with such an amazing team that we had,” Bergman said.
“For them to come this far and bring home this very hard piece of wood to bring home, they earned it,” Zilm said. “I wish we got the white patch, but it doesn’t diminish what we’ve done all year long.”
BRACKETS: Spring sectional playoff pairings (final)
Baseball: Class AA
Baseball: Class A
Baseball: Class B
Baseball: Class C
Baseball: Class D
Baseball: Sect. VII, Class D
Softball: Class AA
Softball: Class A
Softball: Class B
Softball: Class C
Softball: Class D
Softball: Sect. VII, Class D
Boys Lacrosse: Class A
Boys Lacrosse: Class B
Boys Lacrosse: Class C
Boys Lacrosse: Class D
Girls Lacrosse: Class A
Girls Lacrosse: Class B
Girls Lacrosse: Class C
Girls Lacrosse: Class D
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