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High school softball: ‘Young Gun’ hopes to be Sandy Creek’s good luck charm

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SANDY CREEK — The “Young Guns,” are all grown up with one last chance to be state champions, and they’re bringing back an old friend to help.

The Sandy Creek softball team is in Saturday’s Class C state final four, with its first game scheduled for 9 a.m. at Morse Field in Glens Falls against defending state champion Greenwich of Section 2.

Should the Comets win, they will play the winner of Section 11 champion Pierson/Bridgehampton and Section 6’s Frewsburg in the state championship game later that day, at 2 p.m. at the Adirondack Sports Complex in nearby Queensbury.

Morse Field is about 50 miles from the site that coach Bill Fowler’s 12-and-under team, called “Young Guns,” finished second in the 12-U state travel tournament five years ago.

Of the 13 players on that 12-U team, 11 are on this year’s Section 3 champion Sandy Creek squad, which will enter Saturday with a 22-1 record.

“That’s where it all started,” said senior pitcher and leadoff hitter Chelsea Claflin. “This has really been a long time in the making.”

The Comets plan to bring back that squad’s mascot — a small wooden statue that they named “Young Gun,” after the team’s moniker.

“He is this little wooden statue, this creepy little thing that we used to bring to all of our games,” Claflin said. “He was our mascot and we have not brought him out since 12-and-under. He will be there Saturday.”

Claflin purchased the statue one day as she wandered through the mall, and the team decided to make him a regular at all of its tournaments.

“We added things to him like pre-wrap and feathers and little things,” senior third baseman Kendra Valley said. “We’re an odd team, but it works.”

The “Young Gun,” has been stashed away ever since in the garage of junior twin sisters Kylee and Michaela Martin, who start at left field and second base, respectively.

Saturday will mark his first appearance in the Sandy Creek dugout since that tournament.

“He’s only got a few games left in him. He’s old,” Claflin said. “And we figured, what better time to use him?”

The Comets hope “Young Gun,” can help them capture the program’s third state title, and the second in head coach Bill Fowler’s 13-year tenure.

Sandy Creek’s last state title came in 2004. The school also won the state championship in 1997 under Pat McDougal and Molly Yerdon.

Yerdon still serves as an assistant to Fowler.

The Comets last reached the final four in 2007 and lost in the championship game to Section 2’s Hoosic Valley, 1-0.

Fowler’s daughter, Katelyn, played first base on his last state championship team.

This season, if you ask Fowler, he has a daughter at every position.

“I know we’re all really thankful that Mr. Fowler has spent so much time, traveling in the summer, when he doesn’t have a kid on the team. He just does it simply for us,” Claflin said. “Every tournament we go to people would say, ‘So which one is your daughter?’ And he would say, ‘All of them.’”

“People would look at me, flabbergasted when I said that,” Fowler added. “But I meant it.”

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