Alannah Basile helped the Island Trees softball team move closer to solving a mystery.
Hanging by the Bulldogs' dugout during each playoff game is a laminated sheet of paper with black cards taped to it. Each card has the name of their opponent printed on it. After each win, one card is ripped off.
It started out with six cards, representing the six wins they needed to win a second straight county championship. Entering Thursday's game, three cards had been removed.
After Basile led second-seeded Island Trees to a 3-1 win over Clarke in the deciding Game 3 of the Class A semifinals, she ripped off another card. It revealed part of a picture with something written above it.
"The whole team was around when I pulled it off and they all cheered," she said. "We moved closer to meeting our goal."
Closer to solving the mystery of exactly what is on that sheet of paper, too.
But more on that later.
Basile, starting for the third consecutive day, allowed six hits and one walk with five strikeouts in a complete game as Island Trees overcame a 1-0 series deficit.
Sam Petry knocked in Kristen Grieshaber with a fielder's choice to give Island Trees a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the second inning. Morgan Petry singled in a run in the third to make it 2-0. Sam Melendez added an RBI single in the fifth for a 3-0 advantage.
"Our goal is to get back to the Long Island championship," Morgan Petry said. "We want to get that feeling again."
Sarah Cornell went the distance for No. 3 Clarke (14-8), allowing five hits and five walks with four strikeouts. Kirstin Cox and Nicole Randazzo each had singles.
Charissa Perfect led off the seventh with a single and scored on a two-out single by Sabrina Caputo. When the ball got by the centerfielder, Caputo attempted to advance to second but was thrown out by rightfielder Christie Ciaramitaro to end the game.
"That's just our team backing each other up like always," Ciaramitaro said of the play.
Island Trees (20-4) plays top-seeded Carey in the county championship series, beginning at 4 p.m. Monday at Mitchel Athletic Complex. With two more wins, those black cards will be gone and the entire sheet of paper will be revealed. What will it show, you ask?
"It's our team photo," Basile said. "And it says 'Back-to-Back County Champions.' "