There were some tears cried as Marlboro High School freshman Amber Mianti popped out to first base to end the Iron Dukes’ season, but there was a sense of accomplishment for what the softball team was able to do.
“It was just one or two plays,” Marlboro senior center fielder Danielle Martuscello said. “You can’t be upset. You’re second in the state. We just have to enjoy the moment and be happy for the other team who won.”
Section 4’s Windsor defeated Marlboro 2-1 on Saturday at Adirondack Sports Complex in Queensbury to win its second Class B state title in the last three years. Section 9 champion Marlboro, which has never won a state title, reached a state final for the first time since 1991.
Marlboro got to the title game by ending Chatham’s 42-winning streak earlier Saturday, beating the Section 2 champions 3-0 in nine innings.
“Being here is a great accomplishment that we’re grateful for,” Marlboro coach Jennifer Veronesi said. “A lot of teams don’t get that opportunity. We beat a team in nine innings where the pitcher was phenomenal. We had a positive day for the first game. We fell a little short (in the second game).”
Windsor (24-2) took a 2-0 lead in the third inning. Courtney Vaccaro hit a one-out double to left field and advanced to third on Paige Rauch’s bunt single. Windsor loaded the bases on an Allison Lockwood fielder’s choice where Marlboro pitcher Aubrey Bianco opted to hold the lead runner at third. Emma Benson’s sacrifice fly to left field scored Vaccaro. Rauch scored as Mianti’s throw from left hit Vaccaro’s leg and bounced away from catcher Nina Wimberly.
Marlboro (23-2) had three hits against Windsor, including an RBI double by Aubrey Bianco in the sixth inning, which scored Taylor Felicello, who had singled. The Iron Dukes’ other hit was a fourth-inning double by Ashley Votta.
“We weren’t able to string things together and we fell one run short,” Veronesi said.
No batter in the state-title game registered two hits. Windsor pitcher Morgan Starley struck out four and walked two over seven innings, while Bianco struck out two and walked two.
In the day’s first contest, Chatham’s UConn-bound pitcher Kayla Doty struck out 15 and walked one over nine innings, but hit Mianti with a pitch twice, including leading off the ninth inning. Mianti advanced to second on Andrea Schoonmaker’s bunt and to third on Felicello’s bunt. Votta’s two-out RBI single to center field was the Iron Dukes’ first hit and gave Marlboro a 1-0 lead.
Bianco followed by smashing a two-run homer over the left-field fence to make it 3-0 Marlboro. She pitched a 1-2-3 ninth inning to clinch the win. Bianco struck out four and walked two in a complete-game shutout.
“Getting that hit, right off the bat, I knew it was gone and it was such a great feeling,” Bianco said.
Bianco impressed her coach against Chatham.
“Aubrey was so focused,” Veronesi said. “I saw the fire in her eyes and once that ball hit the bat, I knew it was gone.”
Marlboro graduates three starters (Martuscello, Wimberly and first baseman Megan Diamond), but returns a strong core next season. Martuscello thinks the team could be back in the final four next season.
“I think this team has a lot of potential for next year,” Martuscello said. “Who knows? Maybe they’ll come back and win it all.”
“It was a great experience coming up and we had a lot of fun together,” Votta said. “It’s obviously sad going home, coming in second, but we did our best that we could.”