Bellmore JFK's Lia Fong pitches in the Nassau Class AA softball...

Bellmore JFK's Lia Fong pitches in the Nassau Class AA softball finals on Saturday. May 25, 2024. Credit: Neil Miller

When you ask Bellmore JFK softball coach Krista Thorn about the impact of Lia Fong on the program, expect to hear the phrase “gift” often. And for good reason.

Fong decided to transfer from St. Anthony’s, a perennial softball power in the region for the last few years, to her hometown high school of Bellmore JFK with no county championship appearances in program history for her senior year.

Fong and the Cougars are making the most of her one season at Bellmore JFK as they are one victory away from their first county title in program history following a 3-2 win over MacArthur in Game 1 of a best-of-three softball Nassau Class AA championship at Farmingdale State on Saturday afternoon.

“I’ve said it in the past and I’ll continue to say it now, she’s been a gift,” Thorn said. “A very special gift for this program. There’s nothing like her so we are blessed and we are lucky and we are gifted.”

Fong allowed two runs while scattering seven hits with one walk and four strikeouts in a complete game on Saturday. She also had a two-run double in the top of the first inning as Bellmore JFK scored all three of its runs in the opening frame.

No. 2 Bellmore JFK (13-9) and No. 4 MacArthur (8-16) play Game 2 at 4:30 p.m. on Sunday at Farmingdale State.

Fong said there were multiple reasons why she wanted to transfer to Bellmore JFK for her senior season, one of them being the chance to play with girls she’s played with since childhood.

“I’ve grown up playing with a lot of my teammates, so it’s been a lot of fun to be back and playing with them,” Fong said. “Everyone’s been really welcoming, so it’s been a lot of fun.”

Outside of her performance, just her presence within the program has lifted her teammates.

“Lia is just such an amazing pitcher, you want to do everything you can for her,” said first baseman Samantha Kapitansky, who scored on Fong’s double after drawing a walk. “Lay out and make every great play because she’s doing amazing every time she’s out there so you want to do amazing for her. So that’s really my mindset and I think everyone else’s, too.”

Fong drove in Kayla Indich, who reached on an error, and Kapitansky with her double to left-centerfield. Fong’s approach is about as simple as it gets, even in a county championship game.

“When I go up to bat, I just see the ball and make a hard swing at it and see what happens,” she stated.

Fong scored the eventual winning run from third base later in the inning when taking home after a runner was thrown out trying to steal second base.

MacArthur pitcher Alex Livanos settled in after the first inning, allowing only four runners to reach base safely after the first with seven strikeouts in the contest. MacArthur scored both its runs in the third inning.

Bellmore JFK has already made program history by reaching its first county final, Thorn said, and Sunday is a chance to add to that history.

“Since the beginning of the season, we’ve all wanted to get here,” Kapitansky said. “And we have a great pitcher this year, she’s been doing so well, so I feel like everyone wants to do the best they can do for her and really make this season special for all of us.”

“They’ve made history already, we’ve never made it this far so soak it all in, enjoy the adventure, enjoy the ride and make memories,” Thorn said. “They’ll never forget this moment. It’s a small chapter that they will always remember.”


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