Phip­pen, Rid­ers win state ti­tle

Pitcher has no-hit­ter in semi­fi­nal, one-hit­ter in fi­nal for Ichabod Crane

Albany Times Union - Sunday - - SPORTS - By James Allen

On a day when the Ichabod Crane soft­ball squad was nearly per­fect, the Rid­ers found a jaw­drop­ping way to se­cure a Class B state cham­pi­onship when ju­nior left fielder Lau­ryn Heffner made a spec­tac­u­lar game-end­ing catch.

Heffner’s suc­cess­ful sprawl­ing stab pro­vided a most mem­o­rable con­clu­sion to a 2-0 ti­tle tri­umph over top-ranked Susque­hanna Val­ley at Moreau Recre­ational Park.

Gloves went sky­ward, hug­ging was ram­pant and tears of joy flowed freely for the Rid­ers as they capped their 2018 cam­paign in high style to com­plete a record of 22 wins and one loss. The two wins Satur­day pro­cured the pro­gram’s sec­ond Class B ti­tle since 2015.

“It is awe­some to go out with a bang,” Ichabod Crane se­nior pitcher Cal­ista Phip­pen said.

“It feels amaz­ing. Non-stop cry­ing,” Ichabod Crane ju­nior short­stop Gab­bie Cox said.

Af­ter the awards cer­e­mony on the field and a photo ses­sion at home plate, the Rid­ers de­parted the field. Phip­pen, who was ohso-close to a f law­less Satur­day, spot­ted her father and gave him a quiet hug. Sec­onds later, Phip­pen shared an em­brace with Marist soft­ball coach Joe Au­sano, her fu­ture coach.

“That was ex­cit­ing,” Phip­pen said.

Phip­pen, who tossed a no-

hit­ter with 20 strike­outs ear­lier in the day in a 5-0 semi­fi­nal vic­tory over Olean, fin­ished the cham­pi­onship game hav­ing al­lowed only a bunt sin­gle to Hal­lie Martin in the top of the sixth. She struck out 13.

“I put a lot of ef­fort in, but my team­mates put in just as much,” Phip­pen said. “They had my back the en­tire time and I could not be more proud of them. I am just so happy that we could do this all to­gether.”

In 14 in­nings of ac­tion Satur­day, Ichabod Crane made just one er­ror. Sev­eral other teams from Class A A through Class D could not make the same claim.

“We talked at the begin­ning of the sea­son and I told them that we have a lot of work to do,” Ichabod Crane coach Tracy Ny­tran­sky said. “We did not play de­fense that well at the start or bunt too well ei­ther. That is stuff that we weren’t as in­tense on. They thought they were good. They had to learn to work for what they got. They worked hard the last month and it all paid off.”

The Rid­ers showed they have re­fined han­dling the lit­tle things. In the bot­tom of the sixth in­ning fac­ing Susque­hanna Val­ley se­nior pitcher Sophia Pap­pas, Ichabod Crane con­structed a rally that be­gan with a dou­ble by Cox.

The ju­nior swung through the first of­fer­ing from Pap­pas.

“I had to get fo­cused,” Cox said. “The third pitch, I went to left-cen­ter and it got us go­ing. We started from there.”

Phip­pen, the team’s No. 3 hit­ter, suc­cess­fully bunted for a sin­gle. Kali Sac­cento fol­lowed by bunting home Cox for a 1-0 lead. Three bat­ters later, ju­nior Kylie Rivers de­liv­ered an­other bunt RBI sin­gle to plate Phip­pen.

All that was left was for Phip­pen to record the fi­nal three outs of her dis­tin­guished scholas­tic ca­reer. The hardthrow­ing righty fin­ished her se­nior sea­son with a 22-1 record, a 0.09 earne­drun av­er­age and 357 strike­outs in 148 in­nings. She threw two per­fect games, seven no-hit­ters and gave up just 23 hits in 23 games.

“Mind-blow­ing. Re­ally mind-blow­ing,” Phip­pen said when at­tempt­ing to sum up her ca­reer. “I never imag­ined we would do any­thing like this.”

When Ichabod Crane cap­tured its first state cham­pi­onship in 2015, Phip­pen did not even un­der­stand the con­cept of the Sec­tion II Tour­na­ment let along the com­plex­i­ties of the state event.

Three years later, Phip­pen com­pletely un­der­stood — and em­braced — the grav­ity of Satur­day.

“She wanted it more,” Ny­tran­sky said. “I was a lot more com­posed this time,” Phip­pen said.

Jenn march / Spe­cial to the times union

ichabod Crane play­ers cel­e­brate their vic­tory over olean in the Class B semi­fi­nal in moreau on Satur­day. the rid­ers later beat Susque­hanna Val­ley for their sec­ond state ti­tle since 2015.

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