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East Rockaway falls short in state Class B softball regional final

Emily Chelius, East Rockaway pitcher, delivers to the

Emily Chelius, East Rockaway pitcher, delivers to the plate in the top of the fourth inning in the NYSPHSAA Class B Southeast Regional against Ardsley at Hofstra on Saturday, June 8, 2019. Credit: James Escher

Before Emily Chelius even donned an East Rockaway varsity softball jersey, she already had her eyes set on leaving a legacy.

When a seventh-grade Chelius saw East Rockaway’s Hall of Retired Numbers with coach Joe Lores, she asked how she could get her name and number up there.

“I said, ‘It’s a lot of hard work — a lot of hard work,” Lores said. “And she said, ‘I want to be up there.’ ”

Fast forward to the end of her senior year and Lores said it’s now a “given” that her No. 2 will be there. The five-year starter’s varsity tenure ended Saturday at Hofstra after a 4-2 loss against Ardsley in the state Class B Southeast Regional Final. But the legacy she created at the school will go far beyond the year 2019.

“It’s going to be difficult for me to write up a lineup card next year without the name ‘Chelius’ in there,” Lores said. “She’s taken pitching in our school to a [new] level.”

Chelius was just thankful to be given the trust and confidence from her teammates and coaches, even when she was much younger than her teammates.

“I didn’t know what it would be like to be in this situation,” Chelius said. “But every year it just got more and more exciting and I grew a love for this.”

Lores enjoys talking about how Chelius would often ask for space in the gym during the winter while he was conducting boys basketball practice, so Chelius could throw in preparation for the upcoming season. Lores credits that work ethic toward her success.

“I was really lucky since we go to a small school, I had an opportunity to do something not a lot of people get to do,” Chelius said. “So every winter I would just work harder to get better and it paid off.”

East Rockaway (13-12) opened a 2-0 lead Saturday when Mimi Bilardello scored on an error in the first inning and Chelius’ double scored Hunter Vertuccio in the third.

Ardsley (22-3) responded with a two-run home run by Sophia Mangone in the fourth inning and scored two runs in the seventh, after East Rockaway committed two errors with two outs.

But Chelius and the Rocks won’t dwell on Saturday’s loss. Instead, they’ll enjoy their fourth straight Long Island title, including their first in Class B in school history, Lores said.

“Looking back, this program in the five years I was here did a lot that not many teams were able to do,” Chelius said. “A lot of teams had to pack their stuff away a long time ago, but not us. We got to keep playing.”

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