SOUTH GLENS FALLS, N.Y. — What a way to end the year.
That was the message that East Rockaway softball coach Joe Lores wrote in the yearbooks of his senior players on the bus ride to the state tournament.
“They’ve done everything that you’d want any senior class to do and they capped it by getting here,” Lores said. “So it’s been a pretty special year.”
And the message doesn’t change after East Rockaway’s 7-6 loss to Caledonia-Mumford in the state Class C semifinals Saturday at Moreau Park. They fought until the final pitch, refusing to let a special year end.
A two-run double by Caledonia-Mumford’s Meghan Mietlicki highlighted a four-run seventh inning that opened a 7-3 lead. Down to their final three outs, the Rocks showed the grit and resilience that helped make the year so memorable.
“If this doesn’t say enough, I don’t know what does,” Caitlin O’Mara said. “We haven’t been here since 2007. At the beginning of the season, if someone said we would have been here I wouldn’t have believed them.”
After Erica Acampora led off the bottom of the seventh with a double, O’Mara crushed a home run over the fence in left-centerfield to cut the deficit to 7-5. Emily Chelius lined a one-out double to bring the tying run to the plate. Sarah Donnelly, who went 3-for-4, then stroked a two-out single to center to pull the Rocks within one run. A liner off the bat of Corinne Haab that seemed destined for leftfield was then snagged by shortstop Makenzie Wilson to send Caldedonia-Mumford (21-5) into the state final and bring an end to the Rocks’ season.
Acampora said that she and her fellow seniors — O’Mara, Marissa Felbinger, Sydney O’Connor, and Jennifer Weinrib — depart knowing they left it all on the field.
“Everything that’s happened this season is such an accomplishment for my team,” Acampora said. “The whole overall run was pretty amazing. We were down, we pulled through, and at the end we just couldn’t make it all come together. But I’m so proud of each and every one of them and everything that they’ve done.”
O’Mara hit an RBI single in the fifth to pull East Rockaway within 3-1. O’Connor followed with a two-run single to even the score at 3.
The Rocks (14-9) seemed poised for a big inning in the bottom of the sixth before umpires convened and called runners interference on a bobbled ball at short that negated what would have been runners at first and third situation with one out.
“The wounds are fresh right now but we’ll get the opportunity to reflect back and realize not too many teams get to this point,” Lores said. “We’re still playing softball on the last day of the year. That’s something to be proud of.”
As was their finally rally.
“This last inning, even if I’m crying right now, it’s probably the best inning of my career,” O’Mara said. “Because it showed that this [team] would fight until the end.”
What a way to end the year.