QUEENSBURY The Sandy Creek softball team learned the hard way in a 2-1 loss that a little bounce can be the difference in determining a champion.
The Comets had the tying run on third base with two outs in the bottom of the seventh inning in Saturdays Class C state championship game, with its leadoff hitter Chelsea Claflin up to bat.
The first pitch from Frewsburg senior Sam Mott got away from catcher Reyanne Strong and dribbled to the backstop.
Sandy Creeks Brittany Valley took off for the plate from third base. Strong recovered the ball and threw it to Mott at the plate, and she made the tag for the out.
And just like that, the game was over, the season was finished and the Comets long-anticipated run for a state title had come up one victory short.
Mott limited the hot-hitting Section 3 champion Comets to just three hits, and the Bears from Section 6 captured the state title at the Adirondack Sports Complex.
Sandy Creek had advanced to the finals with an 11-1 victory over defending state champion Greenwich of Section 2 earlier in the day at nearby Morse Field in Glens Falls.
Those are the kind of little bounces you need to have to win something like this. Ive done it enough years to realize that you need a little bit of luck along the way, said Sandy Creek coach Bill Fowler, who won a state title in 2004 and last advanced to the finals in 2007.
Sandy Creek was down 2-0 entering the seventh before it put together an uprising that had the Comets contingent of about 100 fans on its feet cheering.
Senior Karintha Myslivecek got a leadoff walk. After a pair of pop-ups, junior Shania Darling tripled to score Myslivecek and cut the deficit to 2-1 with two outs. Valley then came on to run for Darling.
Senior Kendra Valley was hit by a pitch to put runners on the corners for Claflin, who had doubled and singled in her previous two at-bats.
I dont even know what happened, I remember throwing that ball and it hitting off Reyannes glove, and me just doing whatever I could to get down in front of that plate and making sure she couldnt touch it, said Mott, who allowed one run on three hits and struck out six in the complete game win.
Claflin allowed three hits and one walk while finishing with 14 strikeouts. She struck out 10 of the first 11 Frewsburg batters, the only exception being a solo home run from Mott to lead off the second inning, staking Frewsburg to an early 1-0 lead.
Claflin singled to lead off the fourth, the first hit surrendered by Mott. She then doubled in the sixth, and Darlings run-scoring triple in the seventh would prove to be the only other hit of the game for Sandy Creek (23-2).
It was a really good game, we just were not hitting for some reason, Sandy Creek senior Jordan Miller said. But I never stopped believing in them.
The Comets stranded six baserunners over the last four innings, including two each in the sixth and seventh.
Myslivecek was thrown out at the plate with the Comets down 1-0 in the fifth inning.
They had runners on second and third with one out in the fourth when junior Michaela Martin popped up a bunt that was caught by Mott. Mott then turned to third and threw out Claflin before she could tag up for the double play to end the inning, protecting the 1-0 lead for the Bears (20-5).
We didnt execute at bat, Claflin said. We left runners on, had baserunning errors, things like that. Its a disappointment, but, it happens.
Alanna Blanchard singled to bring home the second run in the seventh for Frewsburg, which had advanced to the finals with a 6-0 win over Section 11s Pierson/Bridgehampton.
The game was the last in the high school careers of Claflin, a sixth-year senior, along with Miller and catcher Viki White, both five-year varsity players. Kendra Valley and Myslivecek, in their fourth and third varsity seasons, respectively, are also seniors.
I was fine until Mr. Fowler said, Next season starts tomorrow, Miller said. Because it doesnt for me, and thats the worst part.
SANDY CREEK 11, GREENWICH 1
The Comets pounded out six runs in the sixth inning and took advantage of a major shift in momentum midway through the game to pull away from the Witches (23-4) and advance to the state finals.
Greenwich had the bases loaded with two outs in the fourth inning with the Comets up 1-0.
Sophomore Alexis Case blasted a Claflin pitch down the left-field line, clearing the bases and putting her team up 3-1. But the ball was called foul after the runners crossed the plate and Case stood on third. She ended up striking out swinging three pitches later.
Sandy Creek then tacked on three runs in the bottom half of the inning to take a 4-0 lead.
Miller led the 12-hit barrage for the Comets, finishing 3-for-4. Claflin struck out eight and walked three while allowing one run on five hits.