Gene Twardzik/For The Recorder Elks' Katarina Nordby tosses a pitch during the Amsterdam Girls Softball Association Advanced Division championship game Monday night at Shuttleworth Park/
Gene Twardzik/For The Recorder Madison Carmona of Alden Equipment slides under the tag of Elks third baseman Allie Krohn on Monday night at Shuttleworth Park.
Gene Twardzik/For The Recorder The Elks Lodge celebrates after winning the Amsterdam Girls Softball Association Advanced Division championship Monday at Shuttleworth Park. From row from left to right, Halie Kaple, Kristen Przybylo, Sierra Rose, Nicole DeRose, Katyln Cullakaia and Aubrey Kroah. Second row, Guy Cappuccio, Katelynn Kemitraszek, Courtney Lalla, Kaylee Cappuccio, Katarina Nordby, Nyric Quinones, Lillian Rivas, Emily Pennger, Allie Krohn and Jim Przybylo.
Gene Twardzik/For The Recorder Bailey Isolda of Alden Equipment rounds first base on her way to a triple during the fifth inning of Monday's Amsterdam Girls Softball Association Advanced Division championship game at Shuttleworth Park.
By ADAM SHINDER
In a nip-and-tuck Amsterdam Girls Softball Association Advanced Division championship game Monday night at Shuttleworth Park, Elks Lodge coach Guy Cappuccio was waiting for a tipping point.
In the bottom of the sixth inning, it finally came.
With runners on first and second with two outs, Sierra Rose slapped a grounder toward shortstop. Charging from first, Kristen Przybylo slid hard into the bag, dislodging the ball and breaking up the force play to load the bases.
"That was the start of it all," Cappuccio said.
"When I saw the ball on the ground, I knew that I had to slide in there," Przybylo added.
Four pitches later, Nicole DeRose walked to bring in the go-ahead run. Aubrey Krohn's five-foot tapper then led to an errant throw to bring in three more runs before Katarina Nordby singled in Krohn, capping the five-run inning. In the top of the seventh, Nordby worked around a little trouble to finish off a 13-strikeout complete game that gave Elks Lodge a title-clinching 6-2 win over Alden Equipment.
"It's a great team, great kids," Cappuccio said. "We've had great contributions from all the kids. We've had a great, great go of it."
Monday's down-to-the-wire thriller wasn't settled until Elks Lodge pulled away with five runs in the sixth -- and even then, Alden Equipment had the tying run on deck with two outs in the seventh -- which was a far cry from how things have usually gone this season for a team that ran the table following an opening game loss.
"It was nerve-wracking," Przybylo said.
"Usually," Nordby added, "we win by a lot more."
The title game, postponed for a week due to rain, settled in as a tense affair thanks mostly to the pitching of Nordby and Alden Equipment's Michaela Rust. Rust worked her way out of trouble in several innings, scattering four hits and striking out seven, while Nordby allowed five hits and accumulated 13 strikeouts.
After the game, even she didn't know she'd blown that many batters away.
"Thirteen strikeouts?" Nordby said. "My dad only had me with 10."
Elks Lodge picked up an early lead in the second inning when Allie Krohn walked, stole second and third, then came home to score on a wild pitch. With the one-run lead in her back pocket, Nordby carried a no-hitter into the fifth inning, when Bailey Isolda poked a one-out triple to right and came in with the tying run on Jenelle Pabis' infield single.
Both teams had chances with runners in scoring position, but perhaps due to the teams' familiarity with each other -- in the three-team Advanced Division, Monday was the sixth meeting between Elks and Alden this summer -- neither was able to pull ahead until late.
"That's not necessarily a bad thing, because you get to know the teams as they go," Przybylo said of her team's season-long series with Alden Equipment.
Elks Lodge finally broke through in the sixth, with the biggest blow of the game coming in the form of Aubrey Krohn's grounder that barely rolled five feet from the batter's box, but caused just enough panic to bring home three runs -- just as Cappuccio predicted the game would turn.
"I told the kids before the game that whatever team didn't make a mistake would be the team that would win, and that's exactly how it played out," he said.
After a little drama in the seventh inning that saw Alden Equipment's Mimi Sawitzki bring in a run with a single, Przybylo -- who started playing on Elks Lodge-sponsored AGSA teams in 2005 -- hauled in the final out of the season on a pop-up to left-center to start her team's celebration.
"I've been playing since 2005, and I have to say this is the best year I've ever played -- with the best team," Przybylo said.
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