Sabrina DeAngelis has spent hours in the gym the last six months -- lifting heavy weights to strengthen the chiseled biceps that jut out when she releases every pitch.
And after all that work, there was just no way a 4-inch-wide leather-foam softball was going to stand in her way.
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DeAngelis, who had already pitched a complete game earlier in the afternoon for Kellenberg, battled a resilient St. John the Baptist on her way to gritty four-hitter and a 1-0 win in the CHSAA semifinal at Hofstra.
"I wanted to do whatever I could [in the gym] so I can do my best," DeAngelis said. "Honestly, I never get tired. I'm always in there, just wanting to throw the next pitch."
No. 2 Kellenberg (18-4) defeated St. Anthony's, 4-1, in the first game. Kellenberg, which lost to No. 1 Baptist (13-3) on Saturday in the double-elimination format, plays Baptist again Wednesday in the final, 3:30 p.m. at Hofstra.
The Firebirds' run came in the first, when DeAngelis tripled to center and scored on Stephanie Staiano's sac-fly. Then, it was time to put all that conditioning to good use, as the Cougars strung together one marathon at-bat after the other, and tested the Firebird defense to little avail.
Baptist's best chance came in the fifth and seventh, but two nifty plays by second basemen Krista King -- who made back-peddling grabs on balls to center -- helped strand runners in scoring position.
Unsurprisingly, King is DeAngelis' workout buddy -- visiting a trainer twice a week and exercising more on their own, with "cardio, heavy lifting, weight-conditioning, and everything," DeAngelis said.
And when the team sees that type of determination from DeAngelis, who has pitched all but five games this season, it pumps them up. (Metaphorically, that is.)
"I said to everyone before the game: Do this for Sabrina," King said. "She's been pitching every inning, every at bat. And every inning, she's like, 'have my back,' and we'd be like, '100 percent, 100 percent.' "
Turns out, even the strongest athletes need a little help.