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Displaying items by tag: youth sports
SARATOGA SPRINGS – Saratoga Little League’s All-Star season age-12 players dominated their way to a championship victory on Sunday.
Taking place on the league’s home field at West Side Rec on July 9, the age-12 team crushed their opponents from Schenectady 13-0 to take the District 11/12 championship. Despite initial nerves heading into the game, the team eventually proved how far ahead they were of Schenectady with an excellent overall performance, according to Coach Jeff Babcock. The team will next face the team from Plattsburgh for the Section 2 title.
“The boys went out there a little skeptical in the first inning,” Babcock said. “But after that we just started hitting the cover off the ball, and defensively we were great. Had some nice plays, and just had a great team effort for the win.”
Babcock mentioned that the team made use of the batting cages at Sluggers Den while practicing for this game. Hitting 70-mph balls in the cages rather than simply throwing back-and-forth between each other no doubt helped give them an edge heading into the game.
Speaking of specific standout players, Babcock highlighted starting pitcher Mateo Avila, whom he referred to as “untouchable.” While Schenectady managed a few hits off of Avila in the fourth inning, his performance overall was sterling, with seven strikeouts. In the tournament overall, Avila has pitched 17 innings and has given up only one run, according to Babcock. Additionally, Babcock also praised Joey Barreto, who managed an RBI double.
Saratoga Little League’s All-Stars season commences directly after the end of the standard little league season in early summer, with tryouts taking place on June 9 followed by the first practice on June 20. The three All-Star teams are roughly divided by age, with ages 10, 11, and 12 being the standards, although Babcock and league vice president David Karpinski noting that players can end up playing for teams that do not match their ages depending on their skill levels.
Around 30 young players are picked for the All-Star from the around 300 players that usually compete in the preceding season. According to Karpinski, all leagues choose their All-Star players differently, using whatever method they deem fit. Saratoga Little League’s method is to hold an “assessment night” for all interested little league players. At these nights, players run through routines that include fly balls, running, pitching, catching, and more activities that reflect the skills necessary to be a part of the team. Karpinski also stresses that their choices are not strictly based on performances during the assessment night, but also on each player’s body of work throughout the year.
The first match between Saratoga and Plattsburgh is scheduled for July 15.
Photos by www.photoandgraphic.com.
SARATOGA SPRINGS – Blue Streak history was made at the recent Section II boys tennis tournament.
Entering the competition on May 24 as the No. 1 seeded doubles team, senior David Romano and eighth-grader Nick Grosso went all the way, finally besting the team of Govind Chari and Shamanth Murundi of Bethlehem to become the Section II doubles champions. Capping off an exceptional 18-0 season for the Saratoga Tennis program, Romano and Grosso helped bring home the program’s first ever doubles title. This comes off of the program taking its first-ever sectional team title in 2016. From this win, they will move on to compete in the State-level competition at Flushing Meadows, the same site as the US Open.
Both Romano and Grosso have been in the Saratoga Tennis program since their seventh grade years. This was their first year working together as a doubles team. As a senior and an eighth grader, they are working with an age-disparity that they say is very much not common in varsity tennis.
“I’ve never seen it, in my six years,” Romano said about the age gap. “It works out, cause we both know and respect each other’s games a lot, and he’s one of the hardest workers that I’ve known, and I think together we make a great team.”
“Seeing David out on the court when I was little, you know, it just kept me moving,” Grosso said. “Kept me going, kept me trying every day to be a player like him some day. I think that’s what kept me going, and that’s where I’m at right now.”
Coach Tim O’Brien singled-out the team’s ability to communicate on the court as one of the reasons that they have been so successful. Romano attributes this to their knowledge of each other’s styles, including their strengths and weaknesses on the court, allowing them to cover for each other fairly quickly.
“There have been plenty of times when I shouted for help and he was right there,” Romano said.
Romano will be attending Brown University in the fall after graduating. While there is a very strong tennis team at Brown, Romano was hesitant to say that he would be up to the task of making the team. He does, however, intend to offer his services to help the team in whatever way he is able. Grosso, meanwhile, will be moving up from middle school to high school in the fall, and is not feeling too much pressure about it. Given his experience with high schoolers during his two seasons on the tennis team, he feels confident in his ability to make the transition smoothly. If anything, he expects the change to do wonders for his game.
Elsewhere at the Section II championships, singles players Seungmin Kim and Max Lee made it to the quarterfinals.
“The key to it I think has just been having a foundation of great kids and leaders, on the court and off the court,” O’Brien said about what has made this season’s team so dominant. “It begins with them.”
Photos by Photoandgraphic.com.
SCHUYLERVILLE – After a disappointing 2016 season, the Schuylerville Girls Lacrosse team finally has their hands on gold.
Facing off against Catholic Central in the Class D Section II finals, Schuylerville bested the competition to take home the section championships. Coming off of the 2016 season, in which they came up short in the sectional finals against Scotia, this win was a huge moment for the team. This year, the team competed in the newly created Section D, whereas last year, they competed in Section C.
“The girls were beyond elated,” coach Erin Lloyd said about the team’s reaction to the victory. “They wanted to be able to call themselves champions, and they had worked so hard for it. Their energy was so palpable immediately. Even before the buzzer.”
Lloyd said that this season’s team used the disappointment of loss to fuel their growth. A lot starting sophomores from 2016 were back on this season’s team as juniors. Some of the major things that they worked on improving were their game knowledge and game sense, as well as their individual skills. Offensively, they focused on understanding the core components of the plays in their repertoire, while defensively they worked to increase the number of techniques they employed.
On the field this season, Lloyd noted that a major strength for the team has been their wide variety of big scoring players. Looking at the season’s statistics, she found that they had a greater number of consistent scorers than the average team. This made them harder to defend against, since the offenses were coming from more than a few players. Amongst the team’s many scoring players, Amy Moreau stood the tallest with 110 goals and 30 assists for the season.
Moving on from the sectional win, Schuylerville faced Section IX team Millbrook in a regional game on May 30 at the neutral Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake High School field. Despite the team’s momentum, their season unfortunately came to an with a score of 15-10. Lloyd noted that the strong team play that had carried the team forward to that point was somewhat missing from the game, likely contributing to their loss.
Lloyd believes that, like before, the team will carry forward the disappointment of this regionals loss to drive them next season. She anticipates only needing to fill two positions next year, those of departing seniors Brooke Carpenter and Alexa Goldenberg, and having most of the team in place should allow them to build on the successes and shortcomings of the 2017 season.
“I use the phrase ‘stepping stones,’” Lloyd said. “Last year we got to the sectional finals, and this year we won it and got to the regionals. So, being able to build on these stepping stones, I know that this year’s junior class that’ll be seniors next year are really gonna want to get back there again.”
All photos by www.photoandgraphic.com.
SCHUYLERVILLE – Continuing the trend of raising money to fight cancer last weekend, the Schuylerville Youth Lacrosse team hosted a benefit shootout to raise money for the family of community member Mike Podkladek, who is currently in treatment for a brain tumor. The event was held at Schuyler Park on May 13, and the team estimates that anywhere from 700 to 1,000 people were in attendance. In all, over $8,000 was raised for the Podkladek family.
Mike Podkladek, along with wife Beth, is a member of the Schuylerville community and the parent of three – Jordan, Callie, and Braden. In the past, he has frequently volunteered in his children’s sports, including softball, football, hockey, and lacrosse. In November of 2016, he was diagnosed with a brain tumor that required surgery. After having his initial tumor removed, pathology reports came back which said that he had Grade 4 Glioblastoma, an untreatable cancerous brain tumor. He has since been fortunate enough to be entered into a clinical trial at Sloan Kettering Hospital in New York City, where he and his wife travel to for treatments every other Tuesday.
The event saw 14 5-6 grade youth lacrosse teams from across the area in attendance. During the scheduling meeting back in March, Schuylerville coach Wayne Durr asked the others teams if they would be willing to attend the event. Upon hearing that it would be a benefit, many local programs cancelled their round robins in order to attend. Teams from Ballston Spa, Burnt Hills, Columbia, Glens Falls, Queensbury, Saratoga Springs, Scotia, and Stillwater made it to the event. Each team competed in three games and took part in a “Fastest Shot” competition.
The Podkladek family is still accepting donations from the public through a GoFundMe page. Any readers interested in donating to the family should go to www.gofundme.com/mike-podkladek-family-support-fund.
SARATOGA SPRINGS – This year’s senior game carried extra importance for the Saratoga Varsity baseball team.
In addition to honoring the team’s senior players, the May 13 non-league game against Schuylerville was also used to raise money for cancer research. To this end, the team raised money in a number of ways, including selling t-shirts. Saratoga Coach Andy Cuthbertson decided that the money should be raised in the name of Tracy Hogben, a long-time Saratoga Springs City School District substitute teacher, recent full-time employee at Lake Avenue Elementary, and parent of five children currently enrolled in the district alongside her husband, Gordon. Three of their children – Gordon Jr., Harrison, and Griffin – play baseball for Saratoga.
On Oct. 18 of last year, Hogben suffered a seizure at home, which led to her diagnosis on Oct. 25 of a Right Frontal Lobe Primary Brain Tumor. After 13 days at Albany Medical Center and a craniotomy, Hogben was found to have an Oligodendreglioma, a Grade 2 primary brain tumor.
Hogben attended the benefit game and threw out the first pitch in front of around 500 people in attendance. Both the Saratoga Springs and Schuylerville communities have taken part in raising money, and have, as of May 16, raised $4,989. Donations are still being collected, and once collection is finished, the money will be donated to the Albany Medical Center Brain Tumor Research Fund.
“The community did a fantastic job of stepping up to support one of our own families in need,” Robin Chudy said. “The money raised will be a donation to Albany Medical Center as it will provide resources to continue to look for possible cures for cancer.”
According to Chudy, many parents got involved by setting up food tables for the game, as well as by creating a program for the game that included pages dedicated to the Hogben family, as well as pages for all seven senior players. Far from just working towards a noble cause, it was a great day all around for the Blue Streaks as they beat Schuylerville 6-0.
Al photos by www.photoandgraphic.com.
WILTON – The Springettes – one of the Saratoga Springs area’s premier girls gymnastics teams – continued to do their namesake hometown proud with an impressive showing at a recent state competition.
The Saratoga Regional YMCA Gymnastics Team, also known as “The Springettes,” attended the New York State YMCA Gymnastics Championships at SUNY Oneonta from April 22-23. At the meet, there were nine YMCA gymnastics teams from across NY competing, which amounted to just over 200 athletes. In all, 30 gymnasts from Saratoga Springs competed, taking part in the vault, bars, beam, and floor events.
The Springettes left SUNY Oneonta with an impressive eight all-around state champions, including Marissa Verro from Level 9, Abby Moller from Level 8, Jordan Toma and Katy Hawthorne from Level 7, Brynne Wright from Level 6, Rya Torres and Megan Wishart from Level 5, and Marianna Nasta from Level 4. In individual events, the team put up 29 first-place finishes.
“They did really well,” Kim Hewitt, director of gymnastics for the Saratoga Regional YMCA, said. “They held up against some tough competition.
In team competition, the Springettes entered four teams. The Level 7 and Level 5 teams placed first, the Level 4 team placed second, and the Level 3 team placed fourth.
“My Level 7 team has done a really good job this year,” Hewitt said. “They’ve been consistently placing very, very high, and they had a great day.”
The highest all-around score for the whole team was Abby Moller, Level 8, with a combined score of 35.8, followed by Katy Hawthorne, Level 7, with a score of 35.45. Another notable performance at the meet came from Marianna Nasta, Level 4, who claimed first place in all four individual events.
Going into the event, Hewitt had her athletes focused on repetition of their routines, making sure that they would be able to consistently get things right. Moving forward, the team will be competing at the Northeast Regionals from May 13-15. The focus on repetition remains the staple of their practices leading up to it. This year, regionals will take place in Waterville, ME. Around 40 teams from the northeast states will be competing, amounting to around 1,200 gymnasts.
“We’re really excited,” Hewitt said about going to regionals. “Our Level 5 and Level 7 teams are really strong, so we’re hoping to place in the all-around. It’s a little harder with 40 teams, but we’re hoping for those teams to do really well.”
All photos by www.photoandgraphic.com.
SARATOGA SPRINGS – It was a new beginning for little league baseball in Saratoga Springs last weekend.
Saratoga Wilton Youth Baseball, a new organization formed from a merger of Saratoga American Little League and Wilton Youth Baseball, held its inaugural Opening Day on April 29 at Gavin Park with an event that was as much a party as it was a little league meet. The day began at 8:30 a.m. with an “MLB Pitch, Hit, and Run” event on the softball field, which repeated at 12:30 a.m. From there, the young players in attendance gathered for a “player parade” at 11:00 a.m. Following a barbeque lunch courtesy of The 99 Restaurant, games finally began at 1:00 p.m. The league currently has over 500 players, ages 4-16, registered to play.
This merger leaves Saratoga Springs with two little leagues: Saratoga Wilton Youth Baseball, and Saratoga Little League, formerly known as Saratoga National Little League. Saratoga Wilton will play its games at both Gavin Park in Wilton and East Side Recreation on Lake Avenue in Saratoga Springs.
All photos by www.photoandgraphic.com.
SARATOGA SPRINGS – A strong season is continuing apace for the dominant Saratoga Springs High School varsity girls lacrosse team.
In a league game against Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake on their home turf on April 22, the Blue Streaks dominated the visiting team from start to finish, ending the game with a strong 16-6 victory. The team made good on their intentions to dominate the game from the beginning, putting up the first point of the game, and by halftime, they had massive 10-1 lead. This win puts the team 5-0 in league games, with their only loss coming at the hands and sticks of Niskayuna in a non-league game. Coming up soon will be big games against formidable teams, including Shenendahowa, Shaker, and Bethlehem.
“We have really excellent momentum,” Coach Elaine Lotruglio said. “We’ve had one loss, and it was close. I think we’re in a real good place [going forward].”
Lotruglio was impressed by the rhythm of the game, noting that the younger team was really coming into its own. Compared to previous years’ teams, this team skews much more towards the lower grade levels, with five freshmen and four sophomore players. Lotruglio guesses that by the time these young players make it to their senior year, their familiarity with one another will make them a force to contend with.
“They love to be together,” Lotruglio said about the team’s chemistry. “They pass well, and they’re learning each other’s moves, so to speak.”
A strong practice routine is also helping the team put up impressive numbers, in particular their warm-ups developed by the players themselves alongside assistant coach Elise Britt, a personal trainer and Maple Avenue Middle School health teacher. Lotruglio also noted how the team pulls certain shortcomings from each game they play so that they can work towards fixing them in future practice sessions.
Alongside the younger players, this season’s team has four senior players, Olivia Oskin, Cameron Parry, Emily Fischer, and Francesca Mangino, the latter three of which have signed their letters of intent to play inter-collegiate lacrosse in the fall. Lotruglio also highlighted the skills of sophomore Lindsey Frank, junior Ellen Payer, and junior Katie Wendell.
“They all just have a lot of fun together,” Lotruglio said.
All photos by www.photoandgraphic.com.
SARATOGA SPRINGS – It was a situation that would be tense for any baseball team in any game: tied with the rival team, 4-4, in the bottom of the seventh inning. This was the situation that the Saratoga Springs High School varsity baseball team found itself in on April 14, when it faced rivals Shenendahowa in a non-league game at Shuttleworth Park. This was not just any old non-league game, however: to give some extra heft to the game required under new Suburban Council guidelines, the two teams came together to create the I-87 Cup, which will fought over each year by both teams in a non-league game.
Enter junior Brian Hart, who with just the right swing of the bat hit a homerun, cinching the Blue Streaks’ victory and making them the inaugural holders of the new title.
“It was a great feeling, just running around the bases,” Hart said. “Seeing everyone at home plate, all excited, and I was excited, just to touch the plate and celebrate with my team… Yeah, they were all excited for me, and it was a special moment for us.”
“I kinda said to him in the on-deck circle, it’d be nice if you hit one over that wall, kinda jokingly,” Coach Andy Cuthbertson said. “And, you know, sure enough, he did that.”
Hart has been playing baseball for Saratoga since little league, or, “most” of his life, as he said. Going forward in the season, he believes that the Blue Streaks can go on to win a sectional championship.
“We’re looking to make a long run,” Hart said.
“The one thing about Brian, even when he was a 10th grader last year, he is very composed,” Cuthbertson said. “He doesn’t get very worked up, and that’s quite an attribute to have as a 10th grader, and now as a junior, sometimes I almost think in my mind that he is a senior, and I have remember that, wow, I have him for one more year. What a nice treat for our program.”
All photos by www.photoandgraphic.com.