BY MICHAEL KELLY
CLIFTON PARK — Shenendehowa uses a lot of offensive staples for a high school softball squad: The Plainsmen seek walks, put pressure on opposing defenses with speed on the base paths, and sacrifice outs with bunts to move runners up a base.
But small-ball tactics take time to produce runs and teenagers are not traditionally known for their patience. So, sometimes, the Plainsmen attack more like a hardball team than a softball team, belting out doubles and home runs.
“It’s easier,” Shenendehowa second baseman Kelly O’Gorman said after her team’s 6-0 May 1 victory against Guilderland.
In that win, O’Gorman blasted a grand slam for home run No. 16 for the Plainsmen through their 13-1 start to the season. O’Gorman also doubled — as did designated player Sadie Dunne and left fielder Taylor Rainsberg — in another victory for the Plainsmen that showed their offensive might.
Through the squad’s first 14 games, Shenendehowa has knocked out 54 extra-base hits and several players in the team’s lineup have more extra-base hits than singles. The Plainsmen have averaged 8.9 runs per game, more than enough run support for primary pitcher Abby Shields.
“It makes it a lot easier for me,” said Shields, who struck out 11 in shutting out Guilderland. “But, still, I always try to think it’s a zero-zero score, no matter how much we’re winning by.”
Against Guilderland, Shenendehowa had a 5-0 lead after two innings that showed off its offensive diversity. In the first inning, O’Gorman doubled, went to third base on a steal, and ran home on a double-steal executed with shortstop Nicole McCarvill.
In the second inning, back-to-back doubles from Dunne and Rainsberg got things started for Shenendehowa, Shields reached on an error, and O’Gorman smacked her bases-clearing home run.
This season, McCarvill has produced a team-high five home runs. She said the Plainsmen don’t approach at-bats looking for home runs, but they have had a knack for finding their big sticks at opportune moments.
“If we get one placed in the right inning, the right time, we can get a big inning and score a lot of runs,” McCarvill said.
Heading into the season, rookie head coach Chris Farquharson said he expected his team to have impressive power numbers. Part of the reason why, he said, is because the Plainsmen work counts into their favor, forcing opposing hurlers to deal with them in the juicy part of the plate.
“They’re really making pitchers come to them, which I think is helping them to drive the ball,” said Farquharson, whose team has walked 40 times through 14 games.
While the team’s power numbers are nice, Farquharson said having well-rounded offensive players is what makes this year’s Plainsmen potentially a special group. Any player in the lineup, he said, is capable of putting down a bunt or collecting an extra-base hit. That showed against Guilderland; the doubles from Dunne and Rainsberg came out of the lineup’s Nos. 7 and 8 spots, while the team’s Nos. 3, 4, and 5 hitters — third baseman Marissa Kirker, McCarvill, and first baseman Kelly Barkevich — all attempted bunts during the contest.
“Everyone is capable of everything,” McCarvill said.
“We can all get bunts down,” said O’Gorman, “and hit bombs.”
Through 14 games, the Shenendehowa softball team has uncorked 54 extra-base hits. Here are the team’s top-five extra-base threats so far this season. Players are listed with their doubles, triples, home runs, and total extra-base hits:
- Nicole McCarvill: 7, 1, 5, 13
- Kelly Barkevich: 6, 0, 4, 10
- Kelly O’Gorman: 4, 1, 3, 8
- Alyssa Garrison: 2, 0, 3, 5
- Hannah Elmer: 3, 0, 1, 4