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East Meadow softball had a true dream season en route to state title

East Meadow players pose for a team photo

East Meadow players pose for a team photo after defeating Binghamton in the New York State Public High School Softball Class AA state championship game in South Glens Falls, N.Y., Saturday, June 10, 2017. East Meadow won, 1-0. Photo Credit: Tim Roske

Nikki Kane was trying to get a little shut-eye.

The East Meadow senior and her softball teammates just had one of the best days of their athletic careers June 10 after the Jets won their second state Class AA title in the last four seasons.

Now, Kane’s father, Jim, was texting Nikki to ask how close the team bus, bringing them home from South Glens Falls, was to reaching the school.

“I was on the bus trying to sleep,” Kane said, “and I wanted to be left alone.”

Luckily, teammate Sydney Inger gave the Jets’ whereabouts to her family, who contacted Jim and Nikki’s uncle, Walter, both former fire chiefs of the East Meadow fire department.

A fire truck met up with the bus a few miles away from the high school, lights and sirens full tilt, and escorted the team to its destination at 101 Carman Ave. The team bus went under a pair of fire trucks with their ladders fully raised and hoses blasting water.

“It was so crazy waking up to all that,” said Kane, a utility infielder. “We could see and hear our parents, families, friends and even the fire department was cheering for us. It was a great moment.”

It was one of many great moments — and memories — the Jets will have from an amazing 2017 season.

East Meadow (22-2) won its first 12 games before its only regular-season loss April 28 against rival Long Beach, then turned around to beat the Marines in the best-of-three Nassau championship series that went the distance.

Perhaps the most thrilling moment of the year — and in Long Island softball for that matter — occurred in the Long Island Class AA championship / Southeast Regional final June 2.

Senior Gianna Azzato smashed a three-run homer in the seventh inning that gave the Jets the lead for good in a 5-3 come-from-behind win against tough East Islip.

“Gianna saved the day,” junior rightfielder Sam Reyes said. “Right then and there, we knew we could compete against any team.”

Since the state softball finals started in 1985, no team has scored 17 runs in a state semifinal and one run in the final and and won both games — until East Meadow did just that.

“This says we are a special group of girls,” Azzato said after the state final win. “Every one of us brings something special to this team.”

The team includes seniors Azzato, Kane, Ally Cunha, Kelsey Leonard, Jess Marsala and Mary Wagner — who along with their teammates, head coach Stew Fritz and assistant Rebecca Mattia — will go down in East Meadow sports history.

“East Meadow softball is definitely something special,” said Azzato, who will attend Stonehill College in September. “When we got stuck, we found a way to fight through anything, and conquer whatever challenges were in our way.

JETS’ road to the championship

Nassau Class AA championship series (best-of-3)

Long Beach, 1-0 (W)

Long Beach, 6-8 (L)

Long Beach, 3-1 (W)

Long Island Class AA championship

East Islip, 5-3

State semifinal

Victor, 17-10

State championship

Binghamton, 1-0

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