The Kellenberg softball team won both its semifinal games Saturday and will be playing for its second straight CHSAA championship. The top-seeded Firebirds (26-0) defeated No. 5 Holy Trinity, 4-2, in their first game and then topped No. 2 St. John the Baptist, 7-1.
Lauren Wiese had a pinch-hit, two-run single in the fifth inning to erase a 1-0 deficit against the Titans. Sabrina DeAngelis pitched a complete game with five strikeouts. She allowed only two hits and one earned run for the victory.
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"The first game was a war and it made us better and prepared us for the second game," Kellenberg coach Ken Conrade said.
In the second game, the Firebirds took advantage of two errors to take a 1-0 lead in the first inning. But St. John the Baptist answered back in the second as Mallory McClafferty hit a run-scoring double to tie the score.
With two outs in the bottom of the third, Kellenberg blew open the game with four runs, capped by Caitlin Kennedy's two-run single.
"We tend to be a clutch offense, we get a lot of two- out hits," Conrade said. "That's when we're at our best. Each player feeds off each other, so one hit will lead to another and then another."
Now pitching with a four-run lead, Susan Pardo approached the circle looking to make a statement and she did just that as she struck out the side.
"As soon as we took the lead, I wanted to shut them down and not let them get any runs back," Pardo said.
The Firebirds added two runs in the fourth on an RBI single by Alexandra Pisciotta and a sacrifice fly by Stephanie Staiano. The Cougars got a runner in scoring position with one out in the seventh as Josephine Santagata walked and advanced to third, but Pardo threw back-to-back strikeouts to end the game.
Pardo allowed four hits and one earned run, striking out 12 and walking two. Kennedy and Pisciotta led the offense, going 2-for-3 with two RBIs each.
"We had to work very hard," Conrade said. "Both teams we played today came with tremendous drive to beat us. We really scrapped and fought to get these wins."
The Firebirds have won 43 straight games in CHSAA. The championship game will be played 5 p.m. on Tuesday at Hofstra.
"We're just enjoying the moment and taking it one game at a time," Pardo said. "Every game we come out and play our hardest. We're not overlooking anybody."
St. John the Baptist will face No. 3 St. Anthony's on Tuesday at 3:30 p.m. for a chance to get a rematch with Kellenberg.
The Cougars beat the Friars, 5-2, in their first game of the day, led by McClafferty, who had a two-run home run.
"It's gonna come down to the team that doesn't have the mental breakdowns that we had in this game," St. John the Baptist coach Brianne Herr said. "That's the team that's gonna win. We have to work hard these next few days."