BY BILL PALMER
NISKAYUNA — The good news was that the Niskayuna softball team scored a season-high 19 runs Monday, with a makeshift lineup.
The bad news is that the Silver Warriors gave up 13 runs Monday with a makeshift lineup.
“Gabby Schaffer, our shortstop, was sick today, so we had four girls playing out of position in the infield,” said Niskayuna coach Jules Paul, whose team committed five errors to help Burnt Hills stay in the game. “Our entire infield was different, and it showed.
“That’s still no reason for that to happen. We’ve got to make the plays.”
All the shuffling didn’t hurt Niskayuna’s offense, as the Silver Warriors sent 13 hitters to the plate and scored 10 runs in the first inning. Stacy Gordon capped the eight-hit inning with a three-run home run.
Third baseman Angela Grant, normally a catcher, contributed a two-run double, and second baseman Grace Palmer added a two-run single from the No. 9 spot in the batting order.
Everyone in the lineup finished with at least one hit and a run scored.
Gordon, who finished 3-for-4, was glad to see her team finally put a bunch of hits together, But she kept telling her teammates to keep attacking each at-bat.
“Honestly, I wanted more. I was worried, because we get complacent,” said Gordon, who will play for Lafayette next year. “We were trying to get the mentality that it was 0-0. Maybe we got lackadaisical. But there are never enough runs.”
Gordon was a prophet, as Burnt Hills kept whittling away at the lead, using a six-run sixth inning to pull within 16-12.
“That’s what we need to take from this, that we fought back,” said Burnt Hills coach Kevin DeBonis. “And you can’t really teach that. It’s something they have within themselves.
“Two games ago, we were able to come back twice and we got a win. Today, we were in a big hole, and we didn’t quite get there. To keep that attitude to keep chipping away, it’s tough for adults, much less high school kids.”
Both coaches changed pitchers much sooner than they would have liked. DeBonis went to Karly James after Gordon’s home run, and Paul reacted in kind after Lilly Maggs hit a two-run home run in the third.
Both Julia Favata of Niskayuna — a third baseman who started the game at shortstop — and James did commendable jobs in holding the score down.
Her effort didn’t go unnoticed.
“There’s only so much you can do in the outfield, but you have to cheer and pull for your teammates, back up your pitcher every way you can,” said center fielder Mackayla Woodward, who went 3-for-5 and drove in two runs.
“I think we’re trying to focus on that no matter who is pitching, it doesn’t matter. You have to trust her to do her job, and you have to trust that whoever the ball is hit to will do their job,” said Gordon, who gave her team three outstanding efforts from the circle to start the season, before a sore biceps prevented her from pitching.
Counting Monday’s win, Niskayuna has given up 55 runs in its last four games. The three other games were against potent offenses in Bethlehem, Averill Park and Shenenedehowa.
“We’ve hit a couple of bumps the past few games, but, all in all, we’ve managed to stay composed,” Woodward said. “We’re really good at picking each other up, so I think that’s what helped us win after a tough loss [to Shenendehowa] on Friday,”
“Stacy pitched all five of our first five games, and no one touched the ball,” said Paul. “She came out hurt against Mohonasen, and we’ve taken some beatings since.
“Today, Julia had to come in and chew up a lot of innings, and she did a great job. The score was not really indicative of her pitching. That one inning, they got some hits off her, but we also made some errors behind her.”
DeBonis is waiting for his team to put all the parts of a game together.
“We either field well, or we hit well. We haven’t been able to do both in the same game,” he said.
“Our first actual practice on a dirt infield was last Thursday. We couldn’t get on the field because of the weather, then it was game, game, game. I believe it will come together.”
Burnt Hills 0 32 016 1 — 13 14 3
Niskayuna (10)40 203 x — 19 16 5
Brunson, James (1) and Esper, VanEpps (5); Litz, Favata (3) and Farina.
This story originally appeared in The Daily Gazette.