Lexi Reale started it and Amber Mahoney finished it.
Mahoney's three-run double capped a six-run fifth inning for top-seeded St. Anthony's in its 11-4 win over No. 3 Kellenberg in Game 1 of the CHSAA softball final Tuesday.
The Friars forced a winner-take-all Game 2 of the double-elimination tournament at 3:30 p.m. Wednesday at Hofstra.
"I've been waiting all season for a moment like this," said Mahoney, who gave St. Anthony's an 8-4 lead after it trailed by two heading into the fifth. "It was the perfect opportunity to get a big hit."
Reale led off the pivotal inning with a double and scored on Aileen Reilly's single to cut the Firebirds' lead to 4-3. Reale was the first of six consecutive batters to reach safely and score in the fifth.
"I was thinking in my head 'Just make contact' and that's what happened," said Reale, who was 2-for-4 with two doubles and two runs. "It was so big. Hitting is contagious and we all followed each other."
St. Anthony's (19-2) certainly followed the lead of Kim Puzo. The third baseman's solo homer to left pulled the Friars to within 4-2 in the fourth.
It was the second homer of the day for Puzo, who hit one out in St. Anthony's 6-0 semifinal win over St. John the Baptist.
"I just wanted it," said Puzo, who was 3-for-4 with two RBIs and three runs in the finals. "We could have gotten down on ourselves, but I just wanted to get us back in it. I took a deep breath and was able to relax in that spot."
It sure relaxed Reilly. The righthander got the win, but it wasn't easy. Krista King was 4-for-4 with four singles, a run and two stolen bases for the Firebirds (18-8), whose coach, Ken Conrade, expects Kellenberg to "gear it up" Wednesday.
The Friars were geared up on Tuesday. "Our bats were really alive today," Reilly said. "We wanted to come out ready to go."