State Champions

Chautauqua Lake Claims Class C Title By Downing Greenville And Pine Plains

Chautauqua Lake celebrates its state title on Saturday. Submitted photo

GLENS FALLS — What a run.

“I can’t describe this feeling,” said junior ace Olivia Anderson. “Just, wow.”

The Chautauqua Lake Lady Thunderbirds ripped off 11 hits on their way to winning the New York State Public High School Athletic Association Class C softbal championship Saturday night with a 9-3 win over Pine Plains at Moreau Recreational Park.

“It’s something I’ve dreamt of forever,” said senior captain Cameryn Hawkins. “We finally did it.”

It’s been a family ever since this group was in seventh and eighth grade. They’ve won together, lost together, and now they can celebrate together.

The Chautauqua Lake softball team celebrates while posing for photographs with the New York State Public High School Athletic Association championship sign Saturday in Glens Falls. Submitted photo

“I’ve never been on a team with such great chemistry and heart for each other,” added Hawkins. “We’re like a family. Even through we’ve had our ups and downs, that’s how families work and I couldn’t be happier.”

“I can’t describe this,” stated Thunderbirds’ head coach Sue Teets. “Just look at the girls’ reactions — pure elation. I tell you what, there couldn’t be a more deserving team of this.”

Before there was elation, there was trial, and the Lady Thunderbirds had to scrap and claw their way to give themselves a chance to win this title by first facing Section II champion Greenville in a state semifinal showdown.

The Thunderbirds got off to a hot start by plating two early runs against Greenville ace Ava Fitzmaurice. After an infield single by speedster Lily Studley, Anderson launched a fly ball to the left center field gap. With the wind blowing in, her ball hung up in the air for a bit longer than usual, causing two Greenville outfielders to collide heavily while allowing the ball to drop.

Studley scored and Anderson wound up on third.

“We knew Greenville’s pitcher throws hard — up to 67 mph — but we knew we had to stay disciplined at the plate,” said Teets.

Immediately following Anderson’s RBI, Thunderbirds’ third baseman Cianna Braymiller slapped a single to left, scoring Anderson and giving Chautauqua Lake an early 2-0 lead.

That was all Anderson would need in the semifinal.

“Olivia was strong all the way,” said Teets. “We kept telling her once we get through the top of the lineup in the fifth inning she had it. She did what she needed to do. Chadelynn called a great game behind the plate.”

Anderson allowed just two hits in the semifinal game en route to the complete-game shutout. She tallied six strikeouts and allowed just three walks.

Despite the semifinal win, Teets knew it would take more of the same to capture the title.

“Defense is going to be huge. This game is about pitching and defense — we know that,” stated Teets after the semifinal win. “When you get to this level, everybody wants to win, so we’re going to go get something healthy for lunch and come back ready to play.”

Whatever they ate for lunch sparked their bats in a huge way to lead the team to the championship.

Every game this season, the top of the Thunderbird lineup has contributed heavily. But big moments sometimes produce an unsung hero. In Saturday’s final, that unsung hero was sophomore Sophie Woodis.

With Chautauqua Lake already holding a solid 3-0 lead over Pine Plains, Woodis stepped to the plate with two runners on and smacked a long fly ball over the left field fence, igniting the Chautauqua Lake crowd, and giving the T’Birds a commanding 6-0 advantage.

When Woodis trotted back to the dugout after being mobbed by her teammates, Hawkins embraced her and said, “I feel like a proud mom.'”

“Sophie Woodis — what a game she had,” said Teets. “It was amazing to see her perform like that.”

Even though Woodis was the story, the whole Thunderbird lineup collected hits. Even when the players weren’t getting hits, they were putting the bat on the ball as they only struck out one time the entire game.

“The bats came alive,” said Teets. “If you look at the boxscores from previous games, we trail off almost every fifth inning. This game we stayed disciplined and made good contact.”

One thing aside from the bats that has remained constant all season, is the arm of Anderson. Anderson threw 12 innings on Saturday before giving up a run and it was a testament to coaching, strategy, and defense.

“I threw a lot of screwballs today, trying to get inside and jam them,” said Anderson. “They had some really good hitters in the two, three, and four spots; they were really hard to pitch against. The screwball really helped us get outs.”

It wasn’t until the sixth inning when Anderson was finally solved while the Bombers were able to get a run across to make it 7-1. Chautauqua Lake added two more in the seventh on errors to get more insurance, which helped them withstand a late rally by Pine Plains.

With a run already across during the seventh and a runner in scoring position with no outs, a pop up was hit just foul of first base, and none other than Woodis was there to make a diving catch to get an out and help Anderson finish of the game.

The Thunderbirds did all this with a young up-and-coming group, and they are primed to make a run at winning back-to back state championships. Hawkins is the team’s only senior.

“I’m not even thinking about that right now. I’m just super happy about this game and this season,” said Anderson. “Next year we can go pretty far. Cameryn will be missed, but I think we can do it again.”

“Cameryn is going to be a big loss,” said Teets. “I’ve said it before I love that girl to death. She’s our motivator and keeps the team together, but next year can be a lot of fun, too, if we work at it. I’m so proud of this team.”

Chautauqua Lake may be poised for big things to come in the future, but for now, they celebrate.