Saturday, May 2, 2009

Flying Horses make it five Uncle Sams in a row

Catholic Central's Hannah Kutny slides in safe at second base as Troy High shortstop Shannon Jones receives the throw from the outfield in Saturday's opening round game of the tenth annual Uncle Sam Softball Tournament at Knickerbacker Park in Troy. Troy beat the Crusaders 9-4 to advance to the finals against Lansingburgh. (All photos by J.S. Carras - The Record)

In the championship game, Jones dug in against Lansingburgh's Erin Glikes in the bottom of the first inning (Troy won home field advantage on a coin toss) and crushed the first pitch she saw deep into right center field for an inside-the-park home run. Troy added another run in the second and that was all they needed in a 2-1 thriller over the Lady Knights, sealing their fifth consecutive Uncle Sam Tournament title.

Lansingburgh High head coach John Cipperly, who has perhaps seen more games in Knickerbacker Park than anyone, said he had never seen a high school player hit one that far on that field before.

"This tournament just gets me going,” Jones said. “I love playing here. It’s so much fun playing against everybody I’ve been playing with forever and it just gives me that extra inspiration to play well.”

Glikes finished with eight strikeouts in the championship game and was masterful the rest of the way, not allowing a runner past first base after the second inning. She struck out 15 and allowed only one hit in Lansingburgh's opening round victory over Tamarac.

Troy High freshman Julie Brinkman burst onto the varsity scene last season in sectionals as an eighth-grader and was cool under fire on Saturday night. Lansingburgh loaded the bases in the fifth and seventh innings, but Brinkman held them to a lone unearned run in the seventh to pick up a big win over a crosstown rival and keep the Flying Horses' Collar City crown winning streak intact.

“It was definitely nerve-wracking but I just pulled through,” Brinkman said. “I was hoping to get a strikeout or make them pop out because I know have the team behind me and I know I can trust them.”

Jones made a handful of great defensive plays, as did her cousin Emily Jones and so did third baseman Lauren Cooney, whose double play to end the fifth inning got Brinkman out of a huge jam and likely decided the outcome of the game.

Troy sophomore Liz Belleville pitched the Flying Horses to a victory over Catholic Central in the opening game. CCHS heads to Troy for a significant Big 10 contest on Monday afternoon, as both schools are 4-0 in league play.

CCHS's Kylie Benoit advances to second as Troy second baseman Gabby Daniels fields ground ball during the third inning of Saturday's opening round game in the Uncle Sam Softball Tournament at Knickerbacker Park.

It was a wonderful week for softball in Knickerbacker Park this week as Lansingburgh eeked out a big victory over Colonial Council rival Mechanicville on Monday in its last at-bat and just couldn't get the job done on Saturday, stranding nine runners in seven innings.
Saturday's game couldn't have had any more excitement either, especially with hundreds of fans looking on under the lights. A big thumbs up to all of those who helped and volunteered their time, from the players and the coaches to the parents to the folks working the concession stand, because they made it a very enjoyable and memorable day for all of the students and families who had a fun night out in Knickerbacker Park.

And don't forget, the Uncle Sam Baseball Tournament is only a few weeks away...

Champions of the Uncle Sam Softball Tournament

2000
Lansingburgh 9, Catholic Central 6

2001
Lansingburgh 17, Hoosick Falls 2

2002
Lansingburgh 3, Troy 1

2003
Lansingburgh 9, Troy 0

2004
Catholic Central 4, Troy 2

2005
Troy 4, Lansingburgh 3

2006
Troy 15, Lansingburgh 0

2007
Troy 6, Catholic Central 2

2008
Troy 6, Catholic Central 0

2009
Troy 2, Lansingburgh 1

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