East Meadow wins state softball championship
SOUTH GLENS FALLS, N.Y. -- It's customary for a championship dogpile celebration to take place on the mound. Thanks to Victoria Bova, East Meadow's was in leftfield.
Before the start of the seventh inning, with the Jets three outs away from a state championship, Bova and Marisa San Antonio stood in the outfield and had a hypothetical conversation about the game's final out.
"I told her that it had always been my dream to make a diving catch to end a game," Bova said.
Well, about 10 minutes after the conversation, that dream came true. Bova did make a game-ending catch . . . and it was with the bases loaded . . . in the state championship game.
Her diving grab helped East Meadow capture its first state championship in program history by sealing the Jets' 3-1 victory Saturdayover Liverpool in the state Class AA championship game at Moreau Field.
After a walk loaded the bases and put the tying run in scoring position, Liverpool's Dana Nicoletti lifted a shallow fly ball down the leftfield line. Bova, a sophomore flex player who doesn't bat, charged in and dove forward to make a basket catch, preventing the tying and perhaps go-ahead runs from scoring.
"I saw it in the air, I didn't know if it was fair or foul," she said. "It was do or die and I just went for it."
Kerri Shapiro had visions of a state championship since the beginning of the season when she wrote out a checklist on the mirror in her bedroom. The last item on that list was a state title, which she'll now mark a "W" next to.
"I'm never wiping it off," she said. "Maybe when I move."
Shapiro, who tossed a shutout and struck out 10 in a 3-0 semifinal win over Clarence, allowed just one run and three hits in the final. She blasted a solo home run to leftfield in the third to increase East Meadow's lead to 3-0.
"There are no words to describe this," she said. "Maybe we'll have the right words in 40 years when everyone is still talking about this win."
Added San Antonio: "We worked for this for so long and I'm just so glad we could take it home."
Senior catcher Madison West, who made it to at least the county final in all four of her varsity seasons, opened the scoring with a two-run double in the first inning.
"These were the best four years of our lives," West said. "We accomplished everything that we wanted to. And this is the perfect ending."
In the semifinal game, Ashley Smith delivered a two-run single in the third that gave East Meadow a 3-0 lead. That helped send the Jets to the state final, where they completed the most successful season in program history.
"I can't stop smiling," Bova said. "It was the greatest feeling in the world to catch that ball and then look up to see my whole team running at me."
For a state championship celebration . . . in leftfield.