Jun 15, 2014 Phil Blackwell Uncategorized
So how close did the Liverpool softball team come to bringing home the first state championship in program history?
One more hit, at an opportune time, may have provided that winning moment for the Warriors in Saturday’s state Class AA title game at Moreau Recreation Center in South Glens Falls, but it never got that hit, and instead took a 3-1 defeat to East Meadow.
It only figured that the championship game involved the Warriors attempting to make a comeback and prevail late, for it had gone to extra innings to prevail in both the Section III final against Cicero-North Syracuse and again in the regional final against Bethlehem.
Liverpool trailed East Meadow, 3-0, going to the top of the sixth inning. This was the same Jets squad from Section VII (Nassau County, Long Island) that, in 2013, lost in this same state final to C-NS, and it was in no mood to fall short again.
Still, the Warriors got to East Meadow pitcher Kerry Shapiro for a run in the sixth, driven home by Alicia Hansen, whose single brought Dana Nicoletti around from second base to score.
Then, in the seventh, Jenna Wike led off with a single, and the bottom of the Warriors’ order worked the bases loaded with two out. Another hit would at least tie the game, and perhaps more, but Nicoletti flew out, and Bay Shore claimed the state championship.
Nicoletti had pitched earlier in the day, prevailing in a tense 1-0 state semifinal over Section I champion Valley Central, but it was Peyton Bellrose getting the starting stint for the state final.
East Meadow wasted little time getting to Nicoletti loading the bases with two walks and a single in the bottom of the first before Madison West doubled to score two runs.
That 2-0 deficit grew by a run in the bottom of the third, when Shapiro, perhaps remembering how C-NS’s Sydney O’Hara hit two home runs off her in the 2013 state final, went deep with a Nicoletti offering over the left-field fence.
Though Bellrose settled down from there and blanked the Jets over her remaining three innings of work, Shapiro held off Liverpool’s bats long enough.
Hours earlier, Liverpool, making its first trip to the state final four since 2009, was not intimidated by the setting, nor was it bothered too much by the 9 a.m. starting time on fields at South Glens Falls made wet by heavy rains on Friday.
Nicoletti showed her mettle in the top of the second, putting two Valley Central runners on base, but stranding them as she piled up five strikeouts in her first three innings of work.
An inning later, Liverpool broke through with its only run of the game. Nicoletti made it to second base and then, on Hansen’s hard single to center, hesitated before charging home, just beating the throw home and the tag.
Protecting that slim lead, Nicoletti put runners on second and third in the fourth, but again Valley Central could not capitalize. From there, it went smoothly until the seventh, Nicoletti running her strikeout total to nine and only allowing two hits overall.
The Vikings got a lead-off walk, only to have catcher Katie Gallagher pick her off first base. Then Valley Central earned a pair of singles, again putting the go-ahead runs on base, but Nicoletti stayed cool and, by coaxing two groundouts, sent Liverpool to the state final – where East Meadow would stop them.