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Kellenberg softball still on fire
The Firebirds don’t expect their flame to burn out anytime soon.
Allow the numbers from last season to refresh your memory of just how badly Kellenberg scorched its competition:
189 runs scored.
24 runs allowed.
1 state title.
When members of this year’s team are asked how they could possibly top a season in which they went unbeaten and won the program’s first state championship, many respond with a laugh and an understandable response of “Umm, I don’t know.”
But with their season opening win last week, a 4-3 victory over East Meadow, the torch was officially passed from the state champs to the now defending state champs.
“We have a lot to stand up to from last year” third baseman Stephanie Staiano said. “But it’s not about topping last season. We just try to top ourselves and get better every time we get out here. We come out every day like it’s the last time we’re going to touch that field.”
There are some key changes on the field this season. Gone are the two-time CHSAA pitcher of the year, Susan Pardo, and the two-time CHSAA player of the year, catcher Allie Pisciotta. The ball goes to Sabrina DeAngelis, who was one of three pitchers used by the Firebirds last season. Catching duties will be split between Kathryn Eiler, who delivered the go-ahead hit in the opener, and Gianna Razza.
“I have a big responsibly,” DeAngelis said. “But with our fielders and our hitters, I don’t feel worried. I’m really excited about the opportunity. There’s a lot of expectations and pressure but we’re going to be able to handle it.”
A strong nucleus returns, including second baseman Krista King, the trailblazer atop the lineup. King hit, bunted and slapped her way onto second-team All-Long Island as a sophomore last season with a team-high .535 average and 35 runs scored…11 more runs than Kellenberg allowed the entire season.
“I want to improve on base running,” she said when asked how she hopes to improve this season. “I feel like it’s my job to just get on base and my teammates will do their job to move me around…The success from one year carries on to the next season.”
Then there’s the firepower hitting behind her, including Staiano - nicknamed “Energy” by teammates - who can drop the bunt or hit to the gap. Amanda Crimarco is a situational hitter who provides power in the clean-up spot but can also cut her swing down and make contact when necessary. Amy Quinn helps set the table out of the two-hole and covers plenty of ground while patrolling center field.
“We have a lot to live up to but we have to take it season by season,” Crimarco said. “Last season is over so now we just have to work with this team and see what we can accomplish.”
The title defense is underway with Kellenberg off to a 4-0 start. But there are formidable teams like St. Anthony’s, with Michelle Carbone and Aileen Reilly, and St. John the Baptist, with Kaitlin Hoffman and Sophia Evangelista, waiting for an opportunity to extinguish the Firebirds’ hot streak.
“Each game is a new challenge,” Kellenberg coach Ken Conrade said. “Last year is packed up and gone and we want to do it again this year. We’re as motivated, if not more so, than last year.”
There’s still fire in their eyes.
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