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Diary of a Mad Sportswriter: March 2009

Diary of a Mad Sportswriter

Stan Hudy is a sportswriter for The Saratogian and Community News. He covers high school and youth sports in the Saratoga County area as well as writing a weekly book review on sports books. He's not just a "stick and ball" sportswriter, he's willing to take on any sport as well as any subject.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Burnt Hills QB Paul Layton to kick at UAlbany

After leading the Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake varsity football team to two Section II Class A titles and its first-ever appearance in the New York State Public High School Athletic Association final in the Syracuse Carrier Dome, quarterback Paul Layton will continue his career in the backfield with the University at Albany.

But it won’t be as a quarterback, it will be as a punter and place kicker.

“During the season I kept an open mindset and was willing to listen to any college and play any position,” Layton said. “I was recruited by some colleges to play receiver, so I kept an open mind. After the season ended, I wanted to focus on kicking and punting, trying to get a scholarship.”

Layton had conviction about his new position, but was open to new and challenging opportunities in college.

“I was set on Pittsburgh or Syracuse as a recruited walk on,” Layton said. “UAlbany talked to me early and I said ‘No, I thought I would go in a different direction,’” Layton said. “Then (UAlbany) Coach Ford called (Burnt Hills) Coach Shell following up and extended a full offer. We set up an official visit.”

In his final season under center Layton passed for more than 1,300 yards on 78 passes and 13 touchdowns and was free to run with the ball, grinding more than 1,100 yards on the ground and scoring 20 touchdowns. For his efforts under center he was rewarded the opportunity to show off his own kicking game, splitting the upright 64 times for extra points and hitting three field goals.

“It was great,” Layton said. “I got the opportunity and it completely changed my entire thinking of where I am going to go to college. I’m glad Coach Ford and UAlbany give me the opportunity to go there and compete for a spot.”

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Hall of Fame Classic tickets on sale April 18

The National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum will welcome five Hall of Fame members to kick off its inaugural Baseball Hall of Fame Classic, the contest that has replaced the annual Hall of Fame Game in Cooperstown.

The contest is set for Father’s Day weekend, June 21 at Doubleday Field in Cooperstown and will welcome Hall of Fame baseball legends Bob Feller, Ferguson Jenkins, Paul Molitor, Phil Niekro and Brooks Robinson along with 20 other former Major League Baseball players beginning at 2 p.m. on Father’s Day.

Other major leaguers committed to the contest include George Foster, Bill Lee, Steve Rogers and Lee Smith with additional announcements slated as players commit throughout the spring.

A parade will kick off the day’s events followed by a 1 p.m. hitting contest following the first pitch at 2 p.m. for a seven inning event.

Tickets go on sale 10 a.m. April 18 at the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum box office. Tickets are $12.50 for first- and third-base seats and $11 for outfield seats.

While 2,500 tickets are available during the one-day sale in Cooperstown, museum members can purchase tickets over the phone from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. by calling a special number active only for this sale at 877-849-7770. Callers must be museum members prior to the April 18 date and must provide their membership number at the time of the call.

Phone purchases are subject to a $3.50 handling fee per ticket and limited to six tickets per member. Member phone orders will be handled through Sunday, April 26 or as long as tickets last.

Tickets remaining after Sunday will be made available to the general public via phone on April 27.

For more information, call 888-HALL-OF-FAME (888-425-5633), 607-547-7200 or visit their web-site at www.baseballhall.org.

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Thursday, March 26, 2009

Shen rowers four + coxswain to stroke in college


Pat Ballantyne (Franklin Pierce), Abby Knight (Wisconsin), Jennifer McKay (Syracuse), Laura Neely (Bucknell) and Ian Fisher (United States Naval Academy) have all committed to rowing at the collegiate level next year.

The group were the first-ever from the Friends of Shenendehowa Crew to celebrate their signings in the Shenendehowa High School East Library.

Rowing is a club activity at Shen due to the cost, multiple seasons and travel associated with the sport.

Thursday's event was great for the school and the organization as Fox23 and Capital News 9 each sent videographers to cover the event. Of course, me, I'm a fixture at these signings.

A combined story will appear in Friday's Saratogian and I break out each signing for next week's Community News.

Congratulations to the rowers and their parents.

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Tuesday, March 24, 2009

But dad, I don't want to be a Yankee!!

There are a lot of things we don't get a choice on in life, but one of the funniest moments in my 12 years of covering youth sports happened tonight.

The Clifton Park Baseball League hosted the second of three "Meet the Coaches" nights where young ballplayers meet their new teammates and their coaches for the upcoming rec league season.

League president Joe McCrudden announced to each table, what their team name would be and the new coaches handed out MLB replica hats to their players.

Table after table was announced, Mariners, Cubs, White Sox and then the final big three...Red Sox (which had the loudest applause by its team), the Mets (some fanfare)..and finally the Yankees!

I was poised to take a picture, looking for a huge, arm-raising, boisterous reaction and instead, I got just a few claps and one 6-year-old ballplayer who burst into tears, put his arms around his father's shoulders and sobbed..."but I don't want to be a Yankee..."

From the mouths of babes...

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Miss Shen wiffle ball tournament April 17 - 19

In a game for all ages, Miss Shen Softball is hosting it's first-ever Wiffle Ball tournament April 17 to 19 at the Warning Track Indoor Training Facility in Malta to benefit ADK Charities and the Travis Roy Foundation.

The event is open to the public with three divisions, the minors - under 18 years old, the majors - any age combination 18 and over and then the seniors - the majority of the team over 35.

Each roster has a minimum of six players and nine can play the field.

Each team will have a 3-game guarantee and a home run derby will be held for each division. Trophies will be given to the home run derby winners and the division champions.

Costs per team, $200 for minors, $300 for majors and seniors.

For more information, call Steve Szalowski at 928-2581 or e-mail him at wifflefundraiser@gmail.com.

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Albany-Saratoga Speedway opening early

Get your motor running, the Great Race Place is opening two weeks early with a special opening show April 4.

With the weather cooperating in the Northeast and the Albany-Saratoga Speedway 3/8th-of-a-mile oval in great condition after the winter months Champlain Valley Racing Association promoter Bruce Richards has decided to race two weeks earlier than planned.

“It's game on,” Richards said. “I know the grounds are in good shape because I've had the Ballston Spa youth baseball and lacrosse leagues working out there, and once we do a quick cleanup, we'll be ready to roll.”

Richards had announced that modifieds, both big and small block along with the budget sportsman divisions will take to the track at 1 p.m. April 4 to heat up the track before their official Friday night opener, April 17.

The opening day car will include at 50-lap big block/small block challenge with $5,000 going to the winner includes an overall purse topping $24,000 with $1,000 for 10th place and $300 for all feature starters.

“That's our stimulus package,” Richards said.

The 50-lap feature will be run under CVRA vs. The World rules allowing any modified track tire, without sail panels and any 358 small blocks or 467 big blocks to compete within any modified body.

Adult admission will be $18 and pit admission will be $25 with any valid 2009 membership, $35 for any non-members.

The early season opener will also include a 25-lap feature for budget sportsman (both GM crates and CVRA budgets), and a practice session for all other cars, regardless of class or track affiliation.

The practice session, which will be run following the completion of all racing, is also open to the CVRA’s newest features, the Capital Region Sprint Association and the Empire Lightning Springs who will headline Albany-Saratoga’s recently announced Saturday night racing cards this summer.

Pit gates will open at 10 a.m. and time trials are scheduled to begin at 1 p.m.

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Monday, March 23, 2009

Shen's Santamarina picks St. Rose soccer

Shenendehowa senior soccer utility player Jim Santamarina cut down defenders and now has cut down his short list to include the College of Saint Rose as his college of choice for the next four years.

The Plainsmen and Clifton Park Premier soccer player chose St. Rose over Lemoyne, looking for a strong business school that offered him the opportunity to play right away.

"I've got it stuck in my head what the coach said," Santamarina said. "I have to come into pre-season in shape and I should start to play in the midfield or on defense."

Like many of his classmates, Santamarina thought about playing at the Division I level.

"It was more important to me to play than go Division I," Santamarina said. "I wanted to be able to play, but not always have to worry about playing time, making the team and messing with my academics."

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BH-BL's Filak Athlete of the Week at Oneonta

ONEONTA – SUNY-Oneonta sophomore hurler Dave Filak was named Red Dragon co-Athlete of the Week after leading his squad to a 3-0 win over Gettysburg in the second game of a double-header Saturday.

The Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake graduate earned a complete game shutout, throwing seven full innings, scattering three hits and striking out 11.

This season, Filak is 2-0 with a 0.95 ERA. He has three starts under his belt for SUNY-Oneonta and has thrown 19 innings while allowing only two earned runs and 12 hits. He has struck out 31 batters and has kept opposing batters to an anemic .182 batting average.

Filak is looking to top his freshman season where he earned a host of awards including Oneonta State Male/Fred Puritz First-Year Athlete of the Year award, the SUNYAC Rookie of the Year award and the ECAC Division III Upstate New York Rookie of the Year honors.

He finished his 2008 campaign with a 4-3 record with four saves an a 4.05 ERA. He pitched 40 innings, allowing 36 hits leading to 22 runs, 18 of them earned. He struck out 58 batters and walked only 16.

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Boys lacrosse action underway

Sunday brought sunny skies, winds, a few flurries along with lots of Section II boys lacrosse action at RPI for the Suburban Council scrimmages.

Shenendehowa, Shaker, Niskayuna and Ballston Spa each squared off on the RPI turf to work the kinks out of their games and get a chance to play at full speed against an opponent in a different color jersey.

Shenendehowa coach Chuck Holohan refuses to call this a "rebuilding year" after losing such a large and talented graduating class and is hoping his underclassmen can mature quick enough to be ready for the post season.

There were more cheers than jeers for Niskayuna as the Silver Warriors move down to Class B competition due to class size and are expected to dominante in each contest and roll through the Section II tournament vying for a state title.

Section II upstart from last year Shaker looked skilled, but wasn't at Class A final skill level yet, making this week a long one for the Bison.

Ballston Spa had moments of greatness and then, well, just moments.

Coach Kevin Dayton is again working with a short bench, 21 players, and will also rely on his youth as the Scotties are hoping to not only make the Section II playoffs, but win their first Class A post-season game in school history.

Scrimmages continue this week with league action beginning next week.

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The best 3 minutes in sports

The 5th annual SFA Dodgeball Tournament

The Shenendehowa High School had its own version of March Madness with it's fifth annual SFA Dodgeball Tournament Friday night in Clifton Park.

32 teams made up of 9 boys, 9 girls and two faculty members faced off in a bracketed format to determine who was tops in the soft, foam ball hurling sport.

The annual event continues to astound with the largest turnout of the year indoors for a Shenendehowa sporting event, the envy of both boys and girls basketball staffs.

The event raises more than $6,000 for the SFA with $100 entry fees per team, admission to the event along with concessions.

When the smoke cleared, the appeals were heard and the last ball was flung through the air, "Hardball" reigned supreme, eliminating all 20 members of "Iffy About Canada" in the final.

Look for a full story, photos and even a video later this week on the Commmunity News web-site as I was there to catch all the action and almost one projectile in the head!

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Thursday, March 12, 2009

NEMHL - Tournament times

2008-2009 NEMHL Tournament schedule
Friday, March 13

3 p.m. Saratoga vs. Clifton Park Weibel Avenue Rink
4:40 p.m. Troy vs. CD Selects Weibel Avenue Rink
6:15 p.m. S. Windsor vs. W. Hartford Vernon Rink
6:20 p.m. Jr. River Rats vs. Avon Chiefs Weibel Avenue Rink
7:55 p.m. Watertown vs. Bay State Vernon Rink
8 p.m. NE Jr. Falcons vs. Griffin Weibel Avenue Rink
9:30 p.m. NEMHL All-Star Game Weibel Avenue Rink

Saturday, March 14
7 a.m. W. Hartford vs. CD Selects Vernon Rink
8 a.m. S. Windsor vs. Troy Clifton Park Arena-2
8:30 a.m. Clifton Park vs. Albany Clifton Park Arena-1
8:40 a.m. Avon vs. Saratoga Vernon Rink
10:10 a.m. Watertown vs. NE Jr. Falcons Clifton Park Arena-1
10:20 a.m. Bay State vs. Griffin Vernon Rink
2:10 p.m. Troy vs. W. Hartford Vernon Rink
3 p.m. Clifton Park vs. Avon Clifton Park Arena-2
3:10 p.m. Albany vs. Saratoga Weibel Avenue Rink
3:50 p.m. Griffin vs. Watertown Vernon Rink
4:50 p.m. Bay State vs. NE Jr. Falcons Weibel Avenue Rink
5:30 p.m. CD Selects vs. S. Windsor Vernon Rink

Sunday, March 15
7 a.m. DIII Consolation game Vernon Rink
8 a.m. DII Consolation game Weibel Avenue Rink
8:40 a.m. DI Consolation game Vernon Rink
10 a.m. DIII Championship game Weibel Avenue Rink
2 p.m. DII Championship game Vernon Rink
4 p.m. DI Championship game Vernon Rink

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Sunday, March 08, 2009

NEMHL All-Stars announced


18 different local players were named to the New England Midget Hockey League NY/MA All-Star squad and will face the CT All-Stars Friday night as the NEMHL once again calls the Spa City home this weekend.

The following players will play in the All-Star game as well as in the year-end league tournament at the Saratoga City Rinks.

Jimmy Murnane Albany Jr River Rats Goalie (Troy)
15 GP 9-4 38 GA 2.91 GAA

Ned Torrico Albany Jr River Rats Goalie (Great Barrington, MA)
22 GP 5-12-3 3.16 GAA

Ryan Lynch Saratoga Blue Knights Goalie (Lake George)
20 GP 14-10-5 1,305 mins. 71 GA 2.45 GAA

Chris Cowan Albany Jr River Rats
Forward (Altamont) 30 GP 25-11 (36)

Mitch Croce Clifton Park Eagles
Defense 27 GP 6-8 (14)

Mike Geraci Troy Jr Engineers
Defense 27 GP 6-8 (14)

Ethan Bleau CD Selects
Defense 18 GP 6-8 (14)

Alec Gladd Albany Jr River Rats Forward (East Greenbush)
32 GP 5-7 (12)

Pat Lance Troy Jr Engineers
Forward 30 GP 18-15 (33)

Derek DiScanio Clifton Park Eagles
Forward 28 GP 26-19 (45) No. 1 team scorer

Andy Loffredo CD Selects
Forward 22 GP 2-2 (4)

Brian Ullman CD Selects
Forward 23 GP 10-3 (13)

Mike Nadoraski Troy Jr Engineers
Forward 26 GP 10-10 (33)

Mark Mastin Albany Jr River Rats Defense (East Greenbush)
27 GP 1-3 (4)

Nino Burgess Clifton Park Eagles
Forward 31 GP 28-10 (38) No. 2 team scorer

Ben Olszewski Saratoga Blue Knights Forward (Ballston Spa)
34 GP 9-13 (22)

Chris Aitken Saratoga Blue Knights Defense (Chestertown)
33 GP 15-18 (33)

Mike Aitken Saratoga Blue Knights Forward (Chestertown)
34 GP 27-25 (52) No. 1 team scorer

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