Even with Sarah Cornell in the circle, Clarke’s softball players felt a need for insurance.
Three outs in the field separated the No. 2 Rams from their second straight Nassau Class A title. Though No. 1 Carey came into the series averaging 6.6 runs per game, a one-run lead could have been enough with the way Cornell was pitching. But, shortstop Kirstin Cox said, “It would have been a lot more tense out there.”
With two outs in the bottom of the sixth and Ally Koustagiannis on third, Cox drew an intentional walk and stole second. Victoria Sferrazza, 0-for-3 at that point and down to her final strike, laced a pitch into rightfield. Koustagiannis and Cox scored. Suddenly, a return to the Long Island championship seemed imminent.
“To be one run away from a lineup like that is very nerve wracking,” Clarke coach Rachel Barry said. “It doesn’t matter who you have on the mound. Those kids are up there hacking. They’re aggressive. They hit the ball.”
Cornell, a Hofstra commit, relegated the insurance runs moot. She finished her second complete game of the two-game series with nine strikeouts and four hits, and the Rams added to their trophy collection with a 4-1 win Wednesday at Mitchel Athletic Complex.
“We could never be satisfied with what we’ve done in previous years,” said catcher Brooke Scherer, who went 1-for-3 with an RBI single and caught Amanda Ulzheimer stealing second to end the sixth.
Clarke’s defense also got boosts from Cox, who started double plays in the second and fifth, and Sferrazza, who made a tough over-the-shoulder grab on a drive deep to left in the fourth.
Barry said the Rams (16-3) began working toward a repeat with gym sessions in November. They’ll shoot to go back-to-back again on June 3, against Mount Sinai or Islip in the Long Island championship. After that, the next title would stand on its own.
“We wanted to beat ourselves from last year — not only the other teams that are coming,” Cox said. “We want to be state champions this year instead of state runner-ups.”
MacArthur 7, East Meadow 1: Jessica Lombardo’s two-run double highlighted a six-run second inning, and No. 1 MacArthur completed its sweep of No. 3 East Meadow in the Nassau Class AA championship.
The Generals (20-3), who won a county title in 2012, fell in last year’s championship.
“This year we just worked even harder than last year,” Lombardo said. “Knowing we had a lead, we had to keep with it. We couldn’t blow it like last year.”
Jessica Budrewicz, who has pitched every inning for MacArthur this year, threw a complete game with eight hits, three walks and six strikeouts. In the bottom of the third, she escaped a bases-loaded, one-out jam with a popout and strikeout. She also worked out of a second-and-third, one-out dilemma, finishing the inning by snaring a hard grounder and throwing to first.
“They had those two innings back to back where they had five runners on and didn’t plate one of them,” coach Bobby Fehrenbach said. “We were kind of able to shut them down there.”
Oyster Bay 9, Wheatley 0: Dana Galgano struck out 11 in a complete game, and Taylor Wilson and Lilly Galasso each went 2-for-4 to lead No. 1 Oyster Bay to the Nassau Class B championship.
Riley Isles singled through the 5-6 hole to drive in two runs in a five-run first inning.
“It definitely makes it a lot easier when my team gives me that insurance,” Galgano said. “The whole game it makes my job easier. I don’t have to worry about where I throw the ball.”
First-year coach Morgan Lashley said she was proud of her team’s growth.
“Every single player developed an enormous amount, both on the field and off the field,” she said. “We want to teach them to be better at softball, but we also want to teach them how to be a better person, dedicated and committed to something. They worked hard this entire season, and they finally saw it pay off.”
For No. 2 Wheatley, the day was not without a highlight. With the bases loaded in the second inning, shortstop Sam Hurtado started a triple play when she caught a line drive and fired to Cara Mattioli for the second out. Mattioli completed the play with a throw to first baseman Jessica Patterson.