Voorheesville softball hits the dirt in opener, loses 16-2 to Albany Academy

The Enterprise — Jordan J. Michael

Slow release: Sophomore Lauren Dlugolecki throws a pitch towards home plate for Voorheesville on Monday during the first regular-season game of the year against Albany Academy. The Blackbirds lost, 16 to 2, and Dlugolecki was replaced by Brianne Borter in the fifth inning after giving up five runs and a handful of walks.

The Enterprise — Jordan J. Michael

Not looking? Zoe Fisher keeps the bat on her shoulder for Voorheesville in the third inning as strike three passes by her knees during Monday’s home opener against Albany Academy. The Birds lost, 16 to 2.

The Enterprise — Jordan J. Michael

Popped up: The Voorheesville softball team opened the 2014 season with a 16-to-2 loss to Albany Academy at home on Monday. Here, Maddy McDonnell hits the ball into play for the Birds in the third inning, but the ball was caught for the final out. 

VOORHEESVILLE — Voorheesville’s pitching was lackluster during its season-opening softball game on Monday with Albany Academy batters either crushing the low-velocity throws for big hits or getting a free base as the ball rolled to the backstop.

Sophomore Lauren Dlugolecki and senior Brianne Borter combined for at least eight past balls and six walks during the Birds’ 16-to-2 loss to Albany Academy. Also, at least six of Academy’s runs were scored off of a past ball.

“We have to throw strikes,” said Voorheesville Head Coach Matt Fiato. “We can’t be giving base runners a free pass.”

The game started getting out of hand for Voorheesville in the top of the fifth inning when Dlugolecki walked two batters, and Carli Voellm scored on a past ball. Borter came in to replace Dlugolecki, but the pitching didn’t improve.

Michaela Carney ripped a triple over Julia Voss’s glove in left field, scoring two Albany Academy runs, and then more inconsistent pitching led to two more runs.

“We have a lot to learn,” said senior Liz “Biz” Slingerland, who plays third base for Voorheesville. “It’s a new team, so we have to get better at hitting and with some outfield stuff.”

For the better part of the last four seasons, the Blackbirds benefited from Amanda Gatt, one of the best pitchers in Section 2 history. She set all types of strikeout and innings-pitched records, but has since graduated to play for Division I Temple University.

Fiato told The Enterprise after Monday’s loss that losing Gatt raises the bar for Voorheesville’s current players in the field because the ball will be put in play a lot more now. Against Albany Academy, the softball was flying all over the place.

“We depended on her to get the strikes we needed, but, otherwise, she was a great team player,” Slingerland said of Gatt. “She was there when we needed a hit, too. We have to fill that gap; I don’t think we can, but eventually we will.”

Indeed, Gatt’s talents may be irreplaceable, so that’s why Fiato is keeping Voorheesville’s expectations realistic for such a young team in 2014; six starters are in ninth or 10th grades.

“Setting goals that are not obtainable is not a smart thing to do,” said Fiato. “More or less, it’s about getting these girls game experience at the varsity level. It’s definitely a different kind of year for the team.”

Fiato’s goal for Voorheesville this season, he said, is to become a team that can compete with every opponent in the Colonial Council, which is a tough league. Albany Academy was impressive, but it may not be the best.

“If we show up and play our hardest, then we’re doing the right thing,” Fiato said.

The Blackbirds also have a new catcher, Katie Hewitt, and Fiato is confident that the pitching will only improve as the season goes along.

“It’s for the fun of the game,” Slingerland said, “not the score.”

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