The Bethlehem Lady Eagles softball team had a tough opening week going 2-2 with losses to two divisional rivals (Colonie and Niskayuna).
We need to get the league wins, said head coach Karen Gentile. "That is ultimately what we will depend on."
One such game was a 7-3 loss to Niskayuna last Thursday.
The starting pitcher for the Lady Eagles, Christina Moloney, didn't get past the first batter. On one of the first pitches of the game, Niskayuna's lead-off hitter slammed a ball right up the middle and into Moloney's shin.
"It was a nasty bruise," said Gentile, who was forced to pull Moloney and put in Toni Edwards.
Throughout the first four innings, Edwards was strong, getting five strikeouts (nine strikeouts total) and allowing only one run. But Niskayuna struck for four runs in the fifth inning to take a 5-1 lead.
"We had a couple of great hits by Niskayuna; a couple of errors in that inning. If you string that together, it allows them to score the four runs that allowed them to take the lead," said Gentile.
The Lady Eagles got one run back in the bottom of the fifth inning, but two passed balls by catcher Sammy Smaldone allowed two more Niskayuna runs to score in the top of the sixth.
"[Sammy] is still learning what she needs to learn. But she is a great, dependable catcher. She tries real hard, so you hate to see stuff like that happen, but it does," said Gentile.
Bethlehem cut the lead to four runs on Erika Danz's RBI single in the bottom of the sixth, but that was as close as the Lady Eagles got.
For the Lady Eagles, though, the week was not lost. Bethlehem won a close game against Troy, 3-2, last Tuesday.
Moloney pitched a superb game. She struck out at least one batter in every inning and ended with a total of 12 strikeouts. And the Lady Eagles certainly needed her to pitch as well as she did.
"We have a good defense, but it's always nice when the pitcher can take 12 of the outs herself. She was on fire today, didn't really give them a lot to hit," explained Gentile.
Trailing 2-1 in the fifth inning, Courtney Sullivan boosted Bethlehem with an RBI single to drive in Danz. Then in the bottom of the seventh, Megan Crucetti pounded a hard line drive into left field to bring home the winning run.
"Nice last hit of the game," said Gentile.