LAKE PLACID - A record-setting season in the Champlain Valley Athletic Conference just keeps getting better for the Lake Placid softball team.
On Thursday, the Blue Bombers notched their fourth straight win, claiming a 5-4 victory over AuSable Valley in a game played under the lights in Lake Placid. The win gave Lake Placid a two-game regular season sweep over the Patriots, and more importantly, it put the Blue Bombers in the driver's seat in terms of hosting a first-round Class C playoff matchup, which will be against the Patriots.
In the first meeting between the teams this spring, Lake Placid had to go eight innings to defeat the Patriots. This time, the Blue Bombers escaped with a walk-off victory by breaking a 4-4 tie in their final at-bat. Senior Brooke Reid came home with the winning run when Liz Bimonte batted her in from third base on an infield hit.
Lake Placid senior Serina Hayes delivers a pitch during Thursday’s home game against AuSable Valley.
(Enterprise photo — Lou Reuter)
The Blue Bombers are enjoying their best season ever in the CVAC. They improved to 8-5 overall and 7-5 in Division II action with two games left on regular-season schedule. The Patriots dropped to 8-6 with the setback and have one game remaining.
AuSable Valley put the Blue Bombers into an early hole by scoring two runs in the top of the first, and Lake Placid then grabbed a 4-2 edge with a a run in the third and three more in the fourth. The Patriots then scored twice in their next at-bat to knot the contest and after a scoreless sixth inning, the Blue Bombers won it in a walkoff.
"It's nice to finally be on the winning end of some of these one-run games," Lake Placid assistant coach Greg Hayes said. "We certainly have had our share of them this season."
"AuSable Valley has a good team, they've been on a hot streak, and we've been pretty hot, too," Blue Bombers head coach Donna Moody said. "I don't think we got off to a very good start, but I certainly have to credit our kids. They kept fighting. When it was tied in the bottom of the seventh, our girls had the confidence we could go out and win it."
With each team's ace - AuSable Valley's Madison Rondeau and Lake Placid's Serina Hayes - going the distance, there were just a combined eight hits in the contest, with five coming off the Blue Bombers' bats. Kelsey Taylor paced Lake Placid with a double and a single, Hayes added a double and Bimonte and Alexis Megliore chipped in a single each in the win.
Catcher Kendra Niemann doubled for the Patriots and Miranda Sheffer and Logan Snow tacked on a single apiece.
With the score tied at 4-4, the drama began to build as both teams looked for the go-ahead run. The Patriots gunned down two runners at the plate during Lake Placid's at-bats in the bottom of the fifth and sixth, and the Blue Bombers returned the favor in the top of the seventh when centerfielder Haley Brandes threw out a runner in the top of the seventh.
Reid got on board in the bottom of the seventh with a lead-off walk, and then stole second base. The senior then reached third on a passed ball before scoring the winning run on Bimonte's grounder.
"We struggled on defense early in the season, but we've shored that up and we have a lot of girls who can hit," Moody said. "Sending our kids home in the fifth and sixth, that might not have been the best coaching decision, but we always have the philosophy that you have to be aggressive. If there's a chance, we're going to go for it."
"This was a well-played game by both teams," AuSable Valley coach Marty Snow said. "It's always close and it's always fun when we play Lake Placid. Their pitcher did a good job and their centerfielder made a great throw to the plate. I'm looking forward to seeing them again in the playoffs. I just wish it could be on our field."
Hayes and Rondeau combined for 17 strikeouts in the contest, with Rondeau fanning nine batters while taking the loss.
AuSable Valley wraps up the regular season Monday against Division II leader Ticonderoga. The Blue Bombers have two games left, both at home, starting with today's matchup against Northern Adirondack. They finish the regular-season slate Monday against Moriah.
Lake Placid 5, AuSable Valley 4
|Patriots||200 020 0 — 4 3 4|
|Blue Bombers||001 300 1 — 5 5 4|
Rondeau and Niemann. Hayes and Taylor. WP - Hayes. LP - Rondeau. 2B - Niemann (AV), Hayes (LP), Taylor (LP).