For the second time in as many years, local softball teams will take to the diamonds at Fonda-Fultonville High School in an attempt to raise money for the Ronald D. Papierniak Scholarship Foundation.
If this year's event is anything like the one in 2012 -- which raised several thousand dollars -- the fund that feeds into college money for several F-F student-athletes will be well-fed. The namesake for the scholarship fund is an F-F sports enthusiast who passed away in 2011.
Coming to Fonda to particiapte in the Ronald D. Papierniak Memorial Softball Tournament today alongside the F-F Lady Braves are the varsity and junior varsity teams from Amsterdam, Gloversville and Mayfield. Amsterdam will play Mayfield at 10 a.m., and F-F will play Gloversville at noon; the consolation game of the tournament will take place at 2 p.m., with the championship contest to follow at 4 p.m.
Admission to the tournament is free -- "The Papierniak family decided Ron wouldn't want someone to pay to watch such a great sport," F-F head coach Kari MacDougall explains -- but money-gathering opportunities for the scholarships will be had throughout the day. Each of the Lady Braves is baking goods to sell at the event, while various businesses -- like Checkers Out Speedway, Stewart's Shops and Quandt's Foodservice Distributors -- have made donations to set the tournament up with T-shirts and concession stand-essentials like hot dogs, hamburgers and buns. Later, after the tournament, Checkers Out Speedway is playing host to a dinner to also help raise money for the scholarship foundation. The foundation plans to award out $2,000 to several F-F student-athletes this June.
The tournament had a bit of a brief scare Thursday when the Amsterdam JV team briefly withdrew from the tournament because of injuries, but Amsterdam varsity head coach Brenden Cetnar says the issue was taken care of by Friday afternoon.
"We were causing trouble for a little while," says Cetnar. "But now the JVs aand the varsity will be there. We're all set."
That's a good thing, as far as Cetnar sees it. He says he remembers last year's event as a good time for all participants.
"It was a lot of fun," he says. "It's a good, fun day of softball. We had beautiful weather last year -- I don't know what we'll get this year -- and we got to play two really good games."
In 2012, F-F captured the championship in the inaugural version of the championship, winning the final game against Amsterdam on a perfect relay from the outfield to tag Lady Rams slugger Ashley Przybylowicz out at third base to end the game.
"Hopefully we'll play Fonda again and turn that around," says Cetnar. "And if she (Przybylowicz) hits a ball that far again, I'm gonna let her keep running again. It was a shot and a perfect throw that they got her with; I still see that in my head."
What MacDougall wants to see is the tournament continue on past this year. The event has become something of a homecoming for the F-F softball program, with alumni making the trip back to support the tournament. More importantly, the day of softball helps the F-F softball community remember one of its biggest boosters, who is still finding a way through his foundation to help out F-F athletes.
"We want to continue this for as long as we can," MacDougall says.
After winning the Western Athletic Conference North Division with their semifinal victory Thursday against Fort Plain, Mayfield Lady Panthers head coach Jamie Hurd did not hide her surprise at her team's success this season.
"Duanesburg is always the one to beat (in the WAC), but we knew we'd be good in the North," says Hurd. "I just didn't know we'd be this good. I was actually very surprised."
A year ago, it was Fort Plain that took the regular season and postseason crown, edging out Mayfield for both titles. That memory, combined with Fort Plain's victory against Mayfield earlier this week in a non-league matchup, fueled Mayfield heading into Thursday's tilt.
"We needed that game for two different things," Hurd says.
In the contest, Anna Husain carried Mayfield, striking out eight in a complete-game four-hitter, while the senior added three hits at the plate. Chipping in were Lisa Hime (two hits, two stolen bases) and Maria Messina (three hits, two RBIs).
"The girls really wanted this," sayd Hurd. "It was the same scene as last year."
For Fort Plain, Jamie Fredericks tossed seven solid innings and had an RBI at the plate, while Allehah VanLoan, Haley Kilmartin, Abby Boyer and Bri Florian also had singles in the 6-2 loss.
Mayfield will next play Wednesday in the WAC Cup championship against either Duanesburg or Schoharie.