Railroaders cap 16-2 season with loss
By Keith Harrington
The Class C softball matchup Tuesday between second-seed Whitehall and third-seed Greenwich was expected to be a classic battle and the game didn’t disappoint. For six innings Lily McCauliffe of Greenwich and Madi Gould of Whitehall were locked in a nip and tuck pitcher’s duel.
The Witches were able to break the stalemate in the top of the final frame and McCauliffe closed out the Railroaders in the bottom half as Greenwich nipped Whitehall 1-0 at Moreau Rec to earn a shot at wearing a sectional crown.
McCauliffe, who had to recover from Tommy John surgery in the off season, was the difference in the game. The senior spun a three-hitter to earn the win in the circle and drove in the winning run.
“I’m so excited — I’ve never made it here before,” McCauliffe said. “I felt pretty good, I’ve come a long way from my surgery, so I’m happy that I could pitch in the game. I didn’t know if I’d be able to.”
Even with the loss, senior catcher Brooke Benjamin will look back on her time as a Railroader with fond memories.
“Moving to Whitehall from another big Adirondack league softball school was a little scary at first,” Benjamin said. “A lot of the girls at Whitehall were girls from my travel team at the time, so that made it seem more normal, and less scary. My first year at Whitehall was canceled due to Covid, but my junior and senior years were strong.”
Whitehall threatened on three occasions but couldn’t push a run across. In the first Gould singled on McCauliffe’s first offering. After Gould moved to second on an Olivia Whiting groundout, McCauliffe struck out Vinna Jensen, but Jensen raced to first after a dropped third strike. Gould moved to third on the play, but McCauliffe got Ava Ruby to ground back to the circle to end the threat.
In the third Khloe Paddock legged out an infield hit to leadoff the inning. Paddock moved into scoring position after a passed ball, but McCauliffe set down the next three Railroaders keep the score 0-0.
Whitehall nearly broke through in the bottom of the sixth. Gould again began the inning with a single and moved to second on a Whiting groundout. McCauliffe again got the job done on a strikeout and a groundout to wiggle off the hook.
In the seventh, Jocelyn Spezio drew a walk with one out and advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt from Sophia Boice. McCauliffe then reached her bat out and lofted an off-speed pitch from Gould over third base that plopped into shallow left field to plate the only run of the contest.
Whitehall won the league championship this season after falling in the title game a year ago. The Railroaders also advanced a round further in the playoffs.
“We only lost one senior last year, and so this year we were much more mature with our skills and demeanor,” Benjamin said. “This year we were more capable of battling back when another team jumped on us first. That was seen in the (league) championship game.”
Gould was outstanding in her own right. The junior tossed a two-hitter with 14 strikeouts.
McCauliffe had both hits for the Witches.
Benjamin is one of five seniors who will graduate from Whitehall this year. The Railroaders will have eight regulars back in the lineup next year and should be primed for another deep run. Benjamin offered them a bit of advice.
“I always tell them to flush it,” she said. ‘It’s not the end of the world if you make a mistake, just take a deep breath and go at it again. and to always have fun, you’re never ready for when it’s over.”
Greenwich was 18-4 after the win. Whitehall ends the season 16-2.