SARANAC LAKE - For the second straight year, Saranac Lake's softball team advanced to the semifinals of the Section VII, Class B playoffs with a 12-7 first-round victory over Northeastern Clinton Thursday.
The Red Storm scored all their runs in two big innings, getting four in the first and pulling away with eight more in the sixth. But during the middle stages of the game, Saranac Lake struggled as the visiting Cougars chipped away to tie the contest.
Saranac Lake head coach Diana Schwartz said she was happy with the win, but expressed concern with her team's performance for much of the game.
Red Storm third baseman Sydney Battistoni, left, and pitcher Brittany Tschirhart leave the field satisfied after Saranac Lake’s 12-7 Class B quarterfinal win over Northeastern Clinton on Thursday.
(Enterprise photo — Lou Reuter)
Saranac Lake junior Jordy McDougall fakes a bunt during Thursday’s game, McDougall led the Red Storm offense with a double and three singles.
(Enterprise photo — Lou Reuter)
"Of course I'm pleased with the outcome, but I was a little nervous with the 4-4 tie until we opened it up again," Schwartz said. "I told the girls we'll have to play more innings than two. We got away with it today, but we can't do that and expect to win our next game."
With the victory, Saranac Lake moves on to play Peru Tuesday on the road. The Indians are arguably the hottest team in the league and swept both regular-season games from the Red Storm. Peru advanced with a 15-0 win over Beekmantown, also on Thursday.
Against NCCS, Jordy McDougall had the hot bat for Saranac Lake going 4-for-5 at the plate. The junior batted in three runs in the Red Storm's 11-hit attack.
The Cougars were limited to four hits as juniors Nicole Viscardo and Brittany Tschirhart combined to work the pitcher's circle for Saranac Lake.
Megan Moody went 3-for-4 with one RBI and scored three runs for the Red Storm, Sydney Battistoni had two hits and a pair of RBI and Chelsea LaFountain notched two RBI with a double. Megan Kilroy also singled and knocked in a run for Saranac Lake.
After holding NCCS scoreless in the top of the first, Saranac Lake was on fire to open the bottom of the frame. The first five Red Storm batters who stepped to the plate all had hits off Cougars' starter Stephanie LaValley, including doubles by McDougall and LaFountain. Saranac Lake started off with three singles in a row in its second at-bat but failed to score.
Trailing 4-0 after one inning, the Cougars mounted a comeback with three runs in the third and another in the fourth to forge a 4-4 deadlock. After throwing five innings, LaValley was replaced by NCCS reliever Jennifer Favro, and facing a new pitcher, the Red Storm erupted again with their eight-run sixth inning to put the game away.
The Cougars tacked on three runs in their final at-bat to make the score a 12-7 final. Bianca Grimshaw led NCCS, going 3-for-3 with a double.
"Once we started hitting again, we hit the ball well," Schwartz said. "If we want to keep this going, we will have to play error-free softball and hit. We're excited to be moving on."
Saranac Lake 12, Northeastern Clinton 7
Cougars 003 100 3 - 4-7-3
Red Storm 400 008 x - 12-11-1
Viscardo, Tschirhart (5) and Rabideau. LaValley, Favro (6) and Tucker. WP - Tschirhart. LP - Favro. 2B - McDougall (SL), LaFountain (SL), Grimshaw (NCCS).