Griffin's game-saving catch gives Sayville LI title

Sayville High School center fielder Jessica Griffin scores

Sayville High School center fielder Jessica Griffin scores during the Class A final against Plainedge. (June 5, 2012) (Credit: James Escher)

The ball jumped off Kate Finnen's bat and into deep right-centerfield. The Plainedge bench positively knew that the improbable comeback had reached its dramatic conclusion.

They began the bottom of the seventh trailing Sayville by four runs and had cut the lead to two with two outs and runners on first and second before Finnen came to bat.

But as the Plainedge bench began celebrating, the Golden Flashes freshman centerfielder, Jessica Griffin, flashed through the gap and made a sliding catch for out number three.

The ball had game-tying, two-RBI triple, or perhaps game-winning home run, written all over it.

With the 4-2 win, Sayville (21-4) clinched its first Long Island softball championship since 2003 and advanced to the Class A state semifinals Saturday at the Adirondack Sports Complex in Queensbury.

"I knew I had it all the way," Griffin said. "Maybe a ground ball I'd miss, but I got fly balls."

Well, Jessica, weren't you at least nervous?

"No," she replied, "because I always make those catches."

The beneficiary of Griffin's golden glove was pitcher Merissa Selts, who followed up Friday's two-hitter in Game 3 of the Suffolk championship against East Hampton with a five-hitter. She added an RBI double in the first that opened the scoring.

After Griffin's catch, the Golden Flashes sprinted to centerfield for the celebration. "I knew Jessica had it," Selts said. "She always has my back. She's the best outfielder we have."

Red Devils ace Kim Nowak held Sayville to one run until the seventh. Jackie Christenson's RBI double extended the lead to 2-0. Third baseman Kira Karl (2-for-3) added a run-scoring single and Emily Sellitti had a sacrifice fly that gave the Golden Flashes a 4-0 advantage.

After Plainedge (16-5) loaded the bases with nobody out in the bottom of the inning, Karl made a diving stab and got a force at home for the first out.

Giana Soriente's two-run single sliced Sayville's lead in half. Nicole Francisco lined out to Griffin for the second out, and then came Finnen to the plate and Griffin to the rescue.

"I thought it was dropping in, but [Jessica] made such an amazing catch," Nowak said.

"The Catch" will live on in Sayville softball lore long after Griffin graduates. But for this year's crop of Golden Flashes, with a group of five seniors led by a shutdown pitcher in Selts, their work is not complete.

"We're not done yet," Selts said. "We want to go to states and win it all."

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