Lia Fong of Bellmore JFK, right, gets congratulated by teammates...

Lia Fong of Bellmore JFK, right, gets congratulated by teammates Sam Kapitansky #3, left, and Kayla Indich #5 after a strikeout in the top of the fourth inning of a Nassau Conference I softball game against Mepham at Bellmore JFK on Wednesday, May 8, 2024.  Credit: James Escher

It wasn’t Lia Fong’s smoothest start to a game, but it may have been her strongest finish.

Following Bellmore JFK’s senior day festivities, Fong allowed a run on three hits in the top of the first inning. Once Fong got out of the inning with a strikeout, she was untouchable.

Fong struck out 11, walked none and retired 19 consecutive batters as Bellmore JFK defeated visiting Mepham, 4-1, in Nassau Conference I softball Wednesday.

“I just focused more on throwing strikes and getting my spin pitches to work,” Fong said. “I just didn’t feel like myself that first inning.”

Fong spent the last three years at St. Anthony’s and played a crucial role in the Friars’ runs to a CHSAA state title each of the last two seasons.

“She’s got great command, great focus . . . she’s very levelheaded," Bellmore coach Krista Thorn said. "She’s also an exceptional hitter. When I heard that she was coming to play here, I said to her parents, ‘You’re lying to me. Stop kidding.’ I was so thankful to have a gift like her on this team and she has been nothing but a gift.”

Jamie Pellegrino drove in Sam Kapitansky with a single to tie the score at 1 in the bottom of the first. In the fifth, Fong drew a walk with the bases loaded to give the Cougars a 2-1 lead. Bella Parzych came through with a two-out bloop single to shallow center, driving in Kayla Indich and Kapitansky.

“I thought it was going to get caught to be honest. I didn’t know how I hit it, I always just put my head down and run,” said Parzych, a sophomore. “It felt really nice to come through there, especially for the seniors. Today was their day.”

Fong went 1-for-2 with an RBI, Parzych went 3-for-3 with two RBIs and Olivia Toto went 1-for-3 with a run.

Avery Betancourt hit a leadoff single, stole second and scored on a single by Alyssa Cinquemani for Mepham (4-12, 4-12). Cinquemani’s sister, Deanna, followed with a single before Fong shut the Pirates down.

Bellmore (8-9, 7-9) heads into the playoffs having won three of its last five games in a strong conference, with both losses being by one run.

“These last five games, I told them we have to play every game from here on out like it’s a playoff game,” Thorn said. “They’ve been buying in and we’ve recovered from some of the mistakes we made early in the season.”


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