Friday, June 7, 2013

The Other Side of the Bracket...Class A Softball

We all know who Troy High is facing. It's Sayville, in case you hadn't heard. They're the reigning state champs and current Section XI champions.

Buuuuut what about the other two teams that make up the NYS Class A softball final four? What's their deal? How did they get to Queensbury? And, perhaps most importantly, what kind of competition do they bring to the metaphorical table or field?

I have the answers! And I've put them together in this easy-to-read blog post! Huzzah. Under the cut, check out exactly who we're dealing with on the other side of the bracket - their strengths, their weaknesses, all that jazz. It's all about knowing your enemy, folks.

Out of: Section: VI
Who They Beat: A 4-1 victory over Rochester private school Mercy in the Class A Far West Regional on Tuesday afternoon
How It Went: Senior pitcher Bridget Hogan allowed six total hits, and gave up one in the top of the first, but never faced more than four batters in any inning during the regional final. Hamburg - a team that has been posting a handful of comeback victories this post-season - came back in the bottom of the third, sparked by a two-run bunt from Leah Jones.
Strengths: Bridge Hogan. The senior pitcher is making her second-straight appearance in the NYS Final Four and she's not one to get intimidated by the big stage. After last year's disappointing finish, Hogan and her teammates have simply been focused on working their way back to the tournament and now that they're here, they aren't about to give up the opportunity.
Weaknesses: Comebacks. Hamburg has been focusing simply one play and one game at a time throughout the season, but that can be both good and bad. If Tappan Zee can get out quick, they might be able to force Hamburg up against a wall and that slow and steady approach doesn't work in do or die situations.

Out of Section: I
Who They Beat: A 3-0 victory over Section IV's Maine-Endwell on Wednesday afternoon.
How It Went: With two outs in a scoreless game, the Lady Dutchmen connected on that quintessential "big hit." After leaving runners in scoring position in the first, third and fourth innings, Tappan Zee strung together four hits, including a two-run triple form Kelly Connolly, to break open the game and take the regional title.
Strengths: Paulina Gutkin. The Tappan Zee pitcher threw a complete-game shutout in the regional victory, giving up seven hits, but keeping runners off of home and getting the outs when she had to. She finished with nine strikeouts in the game and if she can keep throwing batters into easy outs, the Lady Dutchmen can continue to feel confident in the field.
Weaknesses: Scoring. The Lady Dutchmen have to take advantage of every opportunity they're given offensively. Leaving runners on base, or even worse in scoring position, is not a strategy that's going to work in the Final Four. They've shown that they can hit - it's just a matter of breaking out the bats throughout the game, not just in do or die situations.


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