The entire St. Anthony's softball team was asked how many of them were born the last time the Friars were league champions. Only three arms went up.
Yeah, it's been a while.
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But one of the arms that did go up, that of Gabby Marcheschi, helped end that drought on Tuesday as St. Anthony's defeated three-time defending state champion Kellenberg, 4-3, in the CHSAA championship at Hofstra.DataSoftball champions database
"When I was pitching," said Marcheschi, who allowed six hits and two walks with four strikeouts, "I kept saying, 'This is our year! This is our year! I have to do this!' "
In the seventh inning, Kellenberg had runners on second and third with one out.
But Marcheschi induced a chopper to the circle and a groundout to shortstop Lexi Reale to give St. Anthony's its first league title since 1997, the year Marcheschi was born.
"All I was thinking was I better catch this ball," Reale said. "We really wanted this."
After Alyssa Delaney drew a walk to lead off the bottom of the fifth, Gabby Puglia doubled to the gap in left-center to give the Friars a 4-3 lead.
"I was praying that I have to get the ball down," Puglia said. "I swung through the ball and got the run in. And I was like, 'Phewwww.' ''
With two outs in the fifth and St. Anthony's leading 3-0, Victoria Sapraicone hit an RBI double and Amanda Riveira followed with an RBI triple to cut the deficit to 3-2 for Kellenberg (17-9). Katherine Piorkowski, who tossed a four-hitter in Kellenberg's 8-0 win over Sacred Heart in the semifinals earlier yesterday, followed with a single to even the score at 3.
But that would be the final rally in the Firebirds' dynasty.
"One generation of players passes on a culture of never quitting to another," Kellenberg coach Ken Conrade said. "I think you saw that today."
Reale drilled a two-run double that gave St. Anthony's a 2-0 lead in the third. Kim Puzo, who was named CHSAA Player of the Year, followed with an RBI single to increase the lead to 3-0.
St. Anthony's (20-1) advances to the CHSAA state semifinals on Tuesday at Hofstra.
"It's been a long time since St. Anthony's has done this," said Marcheschi, named CHSAA Pitcher of the Year after the game. "It feels great to help bring the title back."
Yeah, it had been a while.