The emotions from winning the state softball championship were still fresh for East Meadow’s Christina Loeffler and her teammates back on June 10.
Suddenly, a stranger outside a restaurant in upstate Latham made what Loeffler thought was a strange request.
“He asked me if he could take a picture of my [state championship] medal,” Loeffler said on Monday. “It was kind of funny.”
Loeffler was all smiles as she pitched all but two outs of the Jets’ 14 innings in South Glens Falls en route to their 17-10 state semifinal win against Victor, and a thrilling six-hit, 1-0 complete-game shutout against Binghamton in the state Class AA championship game. It was East Meadow’s second state crown in the past four seasons.
“I knew I would be pitching both games, but I didn’t think I’d be going 13 1/3 innings,” said Loeffler, Newsday’s Athlete of the Week. “That was a lot of pitching.”
It was also a lot of pressure. Loeffler pitched out of bases-loaded jams in the first and third innings and ended both frames with a strikeout.
Gianna Azzato’s single in the first inning brought in Jenna Laird, which was all the support Loeffler would need. The Jets’ defense did the rest, including a rare 9-2-5-7 inning-ending, double-play that closed the fifth inning and seemed to take the life out of Binghamton, the defending state Class AA champs.
“We won with a great bunch of girls,” said Loeffler, who was 5-1 in the playoffs with a save, a 1.50 ERA and a 1.30 WHIP. “It’s such a big accomplishment. It’s amazing.”
Amazing would be a good word to describe Loeffler’s junior campaign.
She batted .413 with a .515 on-base percentage and a .907 slugging percentage, including nine home runs and 36 RBIs. Loeffler was 13-1 with a 1.49 ERA in the circle this season.
“I always tell Christina before we start, ‘Make this your best game’ and she never fails to do that,” Azzato said. “She knew we were going to need her. She’s beyond talented and we always have her back out there in the field. Those 13 1/3 innings were amazing and she should be proud of herself. She works extremely hard.”
How has Loeffler relaxed since the state semifinal and final? Try a four-day softball tournament in Pennsylvania, followed by three college softball camps. She hopes to play softball and major in accounting at an NCAA Division I or II school on the East Coast. For now, Loeffler doesn’t mind reflecting on winning a state title.
“The celebration was more than I expected,” said Loeffler, who one day hopes to earn a CPA. “We knew we wanted the championship so bad. Once we got the championship medals, we didn’t want to take them off.”
Nothing strange about that.