The St. Anthony’s softball players didn’t want to waste a cake.
Entering the CHSAA softball championship undefeated in the postseason, St. Anthony’s could have lost Tuesday and still have another shot to play for the title. But then, there would be no championship cake, which catcher Justine Lomenzo and her teammates bought for coach Mike Massa’s birthday.
“We wanted to celebrate for him,” Gianna Simone and Taylor Zatyk said in near-perfect unison.
And celebrate they did, as the No. 2 Friars defeated No. 1 Sacred Heart, 7-4, to win the CHSAA championship at Charles B. Wang Campus Athletic Fields in Muttontown.
The Friars will play in the state semifinals May 30 at Wagner College with the final later that day.
The game didn’t start easy for St. Anthony’s (17-4). Sacred Heart (13-3) scored two runs in the first inning before St. Anthony’s responded with RBI singles from Lomenzo, Alyssa Seidler and Simone after a rally started by Zatyk, the tournament Most Valuable Player, and Alyssa Delaney to take a 3-2 lead in the bottom half.
“I knew it was my last time to do what we had to do and I knew what it feels like to lose since we did last year,” said Simone, who went 3-for-3 with two doubles and two runs.
The Friars’ pitching tandem of Seidler and Kayla Daly kept the defending state champions in check. Seidler tossed the first 3 1⁄3 innings before Daly finished the game with 3 2⁄3 innings. Daly only allowed one run.
“They beat a very good team,” Massa said. “If you want to win, you’ve got to beat the best so I’m very proud of what they did.”
After a 5-2 St. Anthony’s lead through four innings, a key defensive play turned into an offensive push for St. Anthony’s. Rightfielder Jessica Roberts threw out one of the fastest runners in the league at home in the fifth inning, and then singled before coming around to score in the bottom half on Shaina Lipes’ RBI double. Nicole Gravagna delivered her second RBI single as the Friars took a 7-3 advantage.
“This all means so much for us,” said Lomenzo, a senior, “because this is our last time here.”