PLATTSBURGH — It was business as usual for the top-ranked and unbeaten Chatham softball team when it jumped out to a 3-0 first-inning lead against Saranac on Wednesday.
The Chiefs then got the Panthers’ attention.
Saranac rallied to tie the game in the third before Chatham righted the ship and went on to an 8-3 victory in an NYSPHSAA Class B regional final at Cardinal Park.
“One or two plays here or there made the difference,” Saranac coach Sam Campbell said.
Chatham (24-0) broke on top in the bottom of the first when Caitlin Gilligan singled in two runs and Hannah Gregg followed with a sacrifice fly.
Hard-throwing Kayla Doty held the Section VII champions off the board over the first two innings while striking out four.
The Chiefs, however, went to work in the third.
Beth Plumadore walked, and Kourtnie Campbell rapped a one-out, RBI double. Tori Trim followed with an RBI single and took second on an outfield error. Doty got the second out in the inning before Ashley Terry drilled an RBI double to tie the game.
“We hit every ball hard in the third inning,” Sam Campbell said. “They jumped out to a 3-0 first-inning lead and maybe relaxed a little. That’s hard not to do when you have been as successful as they have been.”
The Panthers regained the lead, at 4-3, in the bottom of the third when Michaela Smith led off with a walk and later scored on an error.
Saranac had a chance to retake the lead in the fourth. Sam Aierle reached on an infield hit, took second on Emma Webster’s sacrifice bunt and moved to third on Kaitlyn Guynup’s single. Guynup then stole second to give the Chiefs runners on second and third with two out. Doty, however, ended the threat with a strikeout.
“We had second and third, and a hit there would have been huge for us,” Campbell said. “We could have come back and taken the lead again.”
That was the final threat for Saranac. Doty sat down 10 of the last 11 batters she faced, allowing only a seventh-inning single to Guynup. She struck out six during that time.
The Panthers gained some breathing room in the bottom of the fourth with three runs for a 7-3 advantage. Gilligan’s two-run single was the big blow in the inning.
The Section II and defending state champions added their final run in the sixth when Karlee Shields singled, stole second and scored on Smith’s RBI double.
Doty, who is headed to the University of Connecticut, struck out 11, walked two and allowed six hits.
“Her velocity was very good,” Campbell said. “I’m proud of our kids for the approach they took at the plate. We don’t see that kind of velocity from pitchers in Section VII, and we had six hits off her and hit the ball hard at times.
“I think both her and Kourtnie struggled with their control a little in the early going.”
Losing pitcher Kourtnie Campbell struck out four, walked four and surrendered eight hits. Three Saranac errors didn’t help her cause.
Shields, Smith and Gilligan led the Panthers with two hits apiece. Guynup was the lone Saranac player with two hits as four others added a hit each.
“We certainly made them aware of us,” Campbell said. “We have nothing be ashamed of.”
The 22nd-ranked Chiefs ended their season with a 16-5 record.
Chatham 8, Saranac 3
Saranac 003 000 0 — 3 6 3
Chatham 301 301 x — 8 8 1
K. Campbell and B. Campbell. Doty and Layton. WP- Doty. LP- K. Campbell. 2B- K. Campbell (Sar), Terry (Sar), Pearson (C).