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For six-plus innings, Tappan Zee couldn’t come up with the big hit. The Lady Dutchmen left runners in scoring position in the first, third, and fourth innings, but couldn’t push any runs across.
Finally, in the seventh inning with two outs in a scoreless game, the big hit came in bunches.
Tappan Zee strung four straight two-out hits together including a two-run triple from Kelly Connolly (3-for-4) to break a scoreless tie. Amanda Carroll (2-for-4) added an RBI single to give the Dutchies a 3-0 victory over Section 4’s Maine-Endwell in the New York State Class A regional final. Tappan Zee will now play in the state semifinals on Saturday at 9 a.m. in Queensbury against Hamburg from Section 6.
“I was just thinking in my head that I had to do this for my time. The whole game we had runners on base and we didn’t get them across,” Connolly said. “That was the time to do it. I had to do it for our seniors because they’ve been playing their hearts out for this entire run.”
Meagan Trozzo (3-for-4) started the inning with a single, and senior Dee Sinanaj (2-for-4) hit a double to set up Connolly’s big hit. Freshman Nicole Spiegelberg added a pair of singles for the Dutchmen.
“We really came through today especially Kelly behind the plate and at the plate with two strikes,” pitcher Paulina Gutkin said. “We thought we could hit after loading the bases in the first inning but it didn’t happen, but timely hitting gets us through the games.”
While other players got the glory today, it’s been Gutkin dominating in the circle that has assured Tappan Zee of its spot in the state final four. The junior tossed her fourth straight shutout of the playoffs and has been dominant throughout the season.
“Paulina’s been lights out. She’s pumped, she’s focused, and the defense is making plays behind her,” Coach Gene Kousoulas said. “She works really hard year round, I can’t be prouder.”
Maine-Endwell had seven hits, but Gutkin got big outs when necessary. In the fourth inning, M-E had runners on first and second with nobody out. Gutkin induced an infield fly sandwiched between two strikeouts. She finished with nine strikeouts in the game. Now, Gutkin and the Dutchmen head to the state final four. Tappan Zee won the Section 1 title in 2006 and advanced to the state final four that season as well, but the Dutchmen haven’t done it in the seven years that Kousoulas has been at the helm.
“Nothing is gravy until it’s all over. Then you can reflect,” Kousoulas said. “We’ve gone after our goals in order. We started with a league title, then section, then regional. We want that state title next.”
Email John Malone at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter: @MSGV_Malone