Whitehall wins softball league title

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The Whitehall girls softball team celebrates its Adirondack League championship win over Lake George. (Photo by Keith Harrington)

It seems like a simple strategy. If the opponent does not score they cannot beat you. The Whitehall softball team and ace pitcher Madi Gould did not give up a single run in their two games of the Adirondack League Tournament.

The Railroaders cruised to their second consecutive league crown and third in four years after shutting out Lake George, 9-0, Friday at Moreau Rec.

“In 2019 we hung our first softball banner in our gym and these guys just continue to put them up,” said Whitehall co-coach Chris Bascue. “They’ve done a great job and put in a lot of hard work.”

Whitehall plated two runs in the first and four more in the second and were never challenged as they defeated the Warriors for the fourth time in a row and fifth in the last seven.

Gould was brilliant once again. She tossed a four-hitter and struck out 11 while not yielding a walk.

The Railroaders struck first. After Gould drew a walk from Lake George starting pitcher Mckenna Barber, Ava Ruby smoked a double down the left-field line. Gould scored on an RBI groundout from Khloe Paddock. Vinna Jensen then singled sharply to left scoring Ruby to make it 2-0.

Whitehall increased its lead in the second by tacking on four more runs. The key blow in the inning was a bases-clearing double by Blake Bird that gave the Railroaders a 6-0 advantage.

The Railroaders erased any doubt as to which team would be wearing the crown as they scored three more runs in the fourth, taking advantage of Lake George fielding miscues. The Warriors’ efforts were hampered by six errors on the afternoon.

The Warriors threatened to close the gap in the fifth. Lake George loaded the bases without the benefit of a hit as Whitehall committed three errors in a row. Gould, however, seemed to rear back and find just a little bit extra as she shut down the threat.

Ruby and Braydee Benjamin contributed two hits each for Whitehall. Jensen had a pair of RBIs.

Shannon Starratt doubled for Lake George. Mollie Stark had two hits and Samantha Gorey singled.

The Railroader seniors who have put up unprecedented numbers during their careers added another notch to their championship belt. Whitehall also won the league basketball championship a few months ago.

“It’s always good for our school. We haven’t had many of these before so it’s good to see these girls succeed,” Bascue said. “With all of the work they’ve put in during the off-season and season, they’ve earned it.”

Winning against a Lake George team that has become a bit of a rival is also always sweet for Whitehall.

“They’re a good team and we don’t like playing them because they’re that good. You never know what you’re going to get with them,” Bascue said.

Bascue’s coaching partner Tim Martindale, who is with the team for the first time this season, noted how important the success of the Railroaders is to the town.

“Our community really needs it. We really do. Right now the only thing our town’s got going on are these girls. They’re part of the town,” Martindale said.

Martindale also praised the work ethic of the Railroaders.

“They’re diehard I’m telling you. When they want to play they want to play,” Martindale said. “When it’s time to turn it on like tonight . . . they had a couple of hiccups but they worked through it.”

Both teams now wait to see who they will match up with in the Class C sectionals next week.

Whitehall is now 13-1. Lake George is 9-4.

Meanwhile, it wasn’t one of their most memorable offensive performances but it didn’t need to be. Whitehall scored a run in the bottom of the first and it was all they needed as the Railroaders went on to blank Salem 7-0 in the Adirondack League Tournament semifinals last Thursday.

Gould spun a two-hitter and struck out 18 to advance Whitehall to Friday’s championship game. With Gould in the circle, one run is often enough for Whitehall, but senior first baseman Blake Bird said the team understands they can’t just rely on their ace because anything can happen.

“Actually it’s very true. You never know. If a few girls connect with some hits, that could turn around a game right there,” Bird said.

It took the Railroaders some time to figure out Salem pitcher Sophia Keays, often getting under her pitches and popping them up.

“She had a good rise ball that I think was kind of getting us,” Bird said. “The other thing was timing. She gets it in really quickly which is a good thing for her but not as much for us.”

Whitehall got on the scoreboard in the bottom of the first. Ruby hit a one-out bloop single and scored on a Jensen RBI double.

The narrow advantage for the Railroaders stayed in place until the fourth. Whitehall parlayed one hit, three walks, a hit batter and a fielder’s choice into four runs. Marissa Eggleston had an RBI single in the frame.

In the fifth Whitehall again took advantage of walks and a miscue from the Generals. Keays gave up three free passes and Eggleston’s fly ball to center field was dropped, helping the Railroaders to score three runs in the inning.

Salem managed just two hits off Gould in the contest.

Jensen was 2 for 2 at the plate for Whitehall. Paddock chipped in an RBI double. Mia Waters was credited with a pair of RBIs.

Kayla McCauliffe and Bella Garrison had the Salem hits.

Bird feels that even when the hits are not falling the Railroaders find ways to score.

“One thing I think that we have is some smart base-running. I think there are a lot of instances where we have that which really helps us out,” Bird said. “I know we can hit and that has not been there as much these past few days, but tomorrow I think we’re going to kick it into gear. We’re going to play our defense and just play our game overall.”

Whitehall moved to 12-1 with the win. Salem fell to 5-11.