Anna Shamroth walked off the field and gave her teddy bear a hug.
Introducing Sparty the bear, the unofficial mascot of the Sacred Heart Spartans softball team. After each game, one player is selected to bring the bear home with them. After Sacred Heart's 11-6 win over St. John the Baptist Friday at Kennedy Park in Hempstead, Sparty will spend the night in the Shamroth household.
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"It was a big day for me," she said.
It was a big day for many, but there weren't enough teddy bears to go around.
Shamroth, a sophomore who tore her ACL over the summer, hit the first home run of her career to highlight a nine-run first inning for Sacred Heart.
Janae Barracato opened the scoring with an RBI single and came around to score on a double by Michaela Ernst. Lauren Williams followed with a two-run single that increased the score to 4-0. Shamroth then deposited a fastball over the fence in right-centerfield for a seven-run lead.
"It was a perfect pitch," she said, "and I just crushed it."
Barracato and Emma Nidermaier, who each had two hits in the first inning, came around to score on a wild pitch and an error to give the Spartans (8-2) a 9-0 lead after the first inning.
"We knew we had to come out and put runs on the board early in the game," Nidermaier said. "That's something we struggled with all season, so to be able to do that today was a good feeling."
Nidermaier finished 3-for-4 and Barracato went 2-for-4, including a solo home run to lead off the fourth for a 10-2 lead.
"Scoring that many runs helps the defense," Barracato said, "and it helps Claire O'Brien when she's pitching."
O'Brien was coming off a game in which she was awarded Sparty after shutting out Kellenberg, the three-time defending CHSAA state champions.
Jessica Selle hit a two-run single and Marissa DeLaurentis drove in a run to pull the Cougars within 11-6 in the seventh. With two on, O'Brien induced a foul pop to Barracato at third to end the game.
"It's incredible to have this kind of run support and amazing defense," O'Brien said. We all work so hard, so it's nice to finally reap the awards of that."
Jessica Watson went 3-for-4 and Julia Calabro and Emily Conway each homered for St. John the Baptist (4-2).
After the game, Shamroth was clutching Sparty, which is covered in various objects ranging from a bracelet from the team's trip to Disney World to a button from the local pizzeria.
"Every player on the team that takes him home has to add a new thing that defines them," she said. "Maybe I'll add something about my home run."