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Sports Archives — The Altamont Enterprise, April 8, 2010

Lady Birds’ softball hoping for a playoff push

By Jordan J. Michael

VOORHEESVILLE –– The Lady Birds’ softball team hasn’t seen a playoff game since Kelsey DeZalia and Britney Creed were freshman. The two girls are now entering their fourth season, as seniors.

That last sectional game for Voorheesville, a 4-to-0 loss to Chatham in the Class B quarterfinals to end the 2007 season, is a distant memory. The team managed only four hits in that game and Creed and DeZalia accounted for half of them.

Head Coach Matt Fiato said at Monday’s practice that last year’s 8-13 record was “positive reinforcement” towards a possibility of making the post-season in 2010.

“The whole concept is really simple,” said Fiato. “You have to win more games than you lose.”

When asked if the Lady Birds were due for a playoff bid, Fiato said, “We’re not due for a date with sectionals; we need to earn it. I think the senior leaders on this team will provide a push and not allow us to sit out another year.”

DeZalia, one of the senior leaders and a co-captain, has started at second base, shortstop, and third base over the last three seasons. She’s seen a lot of players come and go, and currently thinks that team bonding has improved.

“When I was a freshman, I was hesitant to talk to the seniors because I didn’t think they cared about what I had to say,” DeZalia said. “But now, everything is way more comfortable and open. We reach out to the young girls.”

Voorheesville has five ninth-graders on its roster this year –– Jen Brousseau, Bryn Davies, Andrea Figliomeni, Amanda Gatt, and Grace Ziamandanis. Gatt is back on the team as a starting pitcher after playing on varsity as an eighth-grader.

Add sophomores Taylor Fleck, Gabby Liguori, and Kelsey Wegener, who returns to the team to play first base, and that makes a group of girls that is predominately underclasswomen. Junior Brittany Fahd and seniors DeZalia, Creed, Alexa Dillenbeck, and Liz Madden complete the roster for the Lady Birds.

“The game is going to be much faster for the new girls,” said Assistant Coach Jim Duncan after spending Monday’s practice hitting balls to the team.

Duncan told The Enterprise that some of the new ninth-grade players will be used in the outfield with Madden holding things down in center. “Madden is a great player to learn from,” said Duncan. “She takes control out there.”

Fiato said that Davies and Ligouri will be splitting time at catcher this season. “Fiato and I have been calling pitches for them and stuff,” said Duncan. “They’ve received the information well and they’re working hard at blocking. The ball is coming in faster than usual for them.”

Dillenbeck and Gatt are returning to the mound and should provide key pitching for Voorheesville. Fiato described Dillenbeck as a finesse pitcher who doesn’t try to overpower, and Gatt as a pitcher who can hit corners and bring power.

“Those two complement each other very well because their styles are totally opposite,” Fiato said. “I can see them confusing some hitters.”

“We’ve always been spoiled with pitching,” said DeZalia. “Hopefully, we can spoil ourselves with good defense, too.”

Duncan played fast-pitch softball in the Army and has been volunteering at the assitant coaching position since 1997. He’s had two daughters pitch for the Lady Birds over the years, and Fiato is the fourth head coach he’s helped.

“I love the game and enjoy being out here with the kids,” said Duncan.

Voorheesville will be in the new Patriot Division this season with Ravena, Lansingburgh, Cohoes, and Holy Names. The Lady Birds’ first game is next Monday at home against Galway.

“It doesn’t matter to me who we play,” said Fiato. “Everyone has a quality team.”

Fiato knows that Creed, DeZalia, and Madden will lead the team and take it as far as it can go. “They’ve seen it all and know what to expect,” said Fiato. “It’s like having three extra coaches out there.”

“This has to be the year we get back to sectionals because it has been dry lately,” said DeZalia. “The talent is there and I know everyone wants to play as long as they can and have success.”

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