With Ticonderoga facing a three-run deficit with no outs in the bottom of the seventh, Ward drilled a grand slam over the centerfield fence to lift the Sentinels to a 6-5 victory and their fifth consecutive sectional title in a game played on the SUNY Plattsburgh softball diamond.
Prior to the seventh inning, Ticonderoga only managed to get four hits in the game, all singles off starting Lake Placid pitcher Alexis Nichols. But Ticonderoga benefited in a big way from walks, as 11 batters reached on bases on balls, including three straight before Ward hit her game-winning grand slam.
“Ticonderoga has been here before,” said Lake Placid coach Donna Moody. “They are a well-coached team of softball players, they knew what they needed to do, and they got it done.
“I thought Alexis pitched a good game,” Moody continued. “I don’t think she got tired at all. Their kid (Ward) just came up big for them. I give her a lot of credit for a hit like that with the game on the line.”
The two teams fought a tight battle during the first six innings and headed into the final frame deadlocked at 2-2. All the Blue Bombers hits were singles, and Nichols led the way with a 4-for-4 performance at the plate. Playing in her final game for Lake Placid, the senior got the Blue Bombers going in the top of the first inning with an RBI single to give her team an early 1-0 edge.
After going 1-2-3 in their first at-bat, the Sentinels scored the next two runs of the game, tying the contest with a run in the second and then taking a 2-1 lead in the third after five of their batters walked consecutively. Lake Placid tied the game in the fourth when senior Brenna Whitney singled, stole second and third and then reached home on an error.
After squandering chances to take a 3-2 edge when runners were tagged out at the plate in both the fifth and sixth innings, the Blue Bombers loaded the bases in their final at bat and got three runs, including a pair that came on a hard single from junior slugger Dani Balestrini. Lake Placid singled four times in the inning.
The game then ended quickly, as well as painfully for Lake Placid as three straight walks were followed with Ward’s game-winning hit.
The Blue Bombers played errorless defense in the loss and turned two double plays.
Whitney collected two singles, including an RBI hit in the seventh, and scored twice. Balestrini also accounted for a pair of Lake Placid singles.
Despite giving up 12 hits, sophomore Jordan McKee stayed poised on the mound to earn the win for Ticonderoga. She struck out 10 Blue Bombers batters.
“We did well on offense, we did well on defense, and we played hard,” Moody said. “What I’m most proud about with our girls was when things didn’t go their way they didn’t let it get to them. They just kept fighting and nearly pulled it off.”
“We had a good season,” Moody added. “We got off to a good start, we faced some bumps in the road during the middle stages, and we really came on strong heading into the playoffs. I think we came into this game playing our best softball of the year.”
The Blue Bombers finished with an 8-9 record overall. Their trip to Plattsburgh Wednesday marked the second straight season of coming up short in a sectional title tilt. Ticonderoga now moves on to face the winner of Section X in a contest to be held Monday on the same SUNY Cardinal Park field.
Ticonderoga 6, Lake Placid 5
Blue Bombers 100 100 2 — 5 12 0
Sentinels 011 000 4 — 6 5 2
Nichols and Balestrini. McKee and Palandrini. WP — McKee. LP – Nichols. HR — Ward (Ti).
Lou Reuter/Lake Placid News
Lake Placid senior Alexis Nichols reacts following her team’s loss to Ticonderoga in the Section VII, Class C championship game Wednesday at SUNY Plattsburgh.