SOUTH GLENS FALLS, N.Y. — The Babylon softball team had dominated its opponents all season, and deep into the playoffs.
Babylon High School is located across the street from the Babylon station of the Long Island Rail Road. The trains were a perfect symbol for the Panthers, who had rolled over their opponents 334-29 before Saturday’s state Class B semifinal.
Unfortunately, the Panthers, who had beaten their last two foes by a 35-2 margin, suddenly went silent with the bats at the most inopportune time. Depew’s Karsen Cotton played a big part in that, too. The junior pitcher tossed a no-hitter against previously-unbeatean Babylon, 1-0, at Moreau Recreational Park.
“We saw better pitchers in [scrimmages against] EI [East Islip] and St. Anthony’s,” senior Gwen Donaldson said. “Maybe we weren’t ready.”
Babylon pitcher Allie Stanya had a different thought. “She threw a low outside pitch [for a strike] and we couldn’t adjust,” Stanya said. “We got bothered by it, and we didn’t push back. We lost our confidence.”
Still, Stanya and Babylon battled through a scoreless first six innings. In the seventh, the usually-dependable Panthers defense committed an error on a sacrifice bunt attempt that allowed Depew (21-4) to score an unearned run.
“We’ve worked on that play [numerous] times this season, and we executed it every time,” Babylon coach Rick Punzone said. “You can’t be 99 out of 100 in the playoffs.”
Stanya added: “It was hard to watch that play. We had it. That never happens.”
Babylon, playing in its first state semifinal since 2003, went down 1-2-3 in the seventh against Cotton, who had 10 strikeouts. The Panthers had three baserunners all day, two via walk and one on an error. Leadoff hitter Julia Vella was stranded at third base in the first inning — the closest Babylon’s potent offense was to a scoring threat.
Stanya battled all day and scattered five hits, allowed no earned runs with six strikeouts and one walk. Donaldson tried to put the Panthers season in perspective.
“We had an undefeated regular season, and fought back to win Suffolk B title against Center Moriches,” said the Oneonta commit. “We won the LIC 19-2 and beat the defending state champ [Malboro] 16-0. But we came up short here and it stinks. This hurts a lot, but hopefully they’ll continue what we started.”
In fact, Donaldson is the Panthers’ lone senior. “We will lose a lot of offense with Gwen. I hope the other girls do what they’re supposed in the offseason,” said Punzone, already thinking about the 2018 season. “The JV went undefeated [this year] so the program is in good hands.”
Especially with a pitcher like Stanya, who went 17-1 with a 0.70 ERA. “Hopefully we can come back. It was a great experience,” the junior said. “At least I have another year. There’s always something to look forward to.”
Punzone added: “It’s sad, but it’s not. You go 24-1 in anything — I don’t care if it’s marbles — it’s a great accomplishment.”