The final out couldn't come soon enough for Krista King. She was all smiles waiting for the pop-up to land in her glove.
"I just tried to stay out of my own head and treat it like any other," the senior second baseman said. "I can't describe that feeling."
When King secured the 21st out of the CHSAA state softball final Tuesday at the College of Staten Island, Kellenberg could celebrate its third consecutive state title after a 7-2 win over St. Joseph by the Sea.
"It's unbelievable," said Kathryn Eiler, who caught righthander Katherine Piorkowski's four-hitter with an earned run, three strikeouts and no walks. "The feeling never gets old seeing us as state champs on the scoreboard."
In the semifinals -- a 5-1 win over St. Francis Prep -- Piorkowski threw a three-hitter with one run, striking out five and walking two.
"No matter what game it is, I always make sure I'm nice and calm because that's what I'm supposed to do -- get the job done," Piorkowski said. "I was in my groove. The big words for me are to stay calm, be relaxed and quiet."
Added Eiler: "She got it done like a champ. Nothing rocked her."
Meanwhile, the Kellenberg offense was rocking. Piorkowski was a part of it, going 3-for-5 with two doubles, two RBIs and two runs over the two wins. In the final, Cristen Whigham went 3-for-3 with a double, two singles, an RBI and two runs. King had a hit in each win, and Eiler's two-run double was the big hit in a four-run fifth inning that gave the Firebirds (21-8) a big cushion in the final.
"Our offense was really great," Piorkowski said. "It's great to have such a lead in big games."
After the celebratory pile-up, Nikki Ditizio stood on the awards ceremony line and asked her teammates, "Am I crying yet?"
"This team means so much to me that I knew once it hits me, that I was going to break down," said Ditizio, who hit an RBI fielder's choice that drove in Victoria Sapraicone to give the Firebirds a 3-0 lead in the bottom of the second. "We kept it going and always felt that no one swing was going to win the game."
Kellenberg coach Ken Conrade said: "We always have the mind-set of trying to score first and put that offensive pressure on the other team. They do it with a tremendous amount of heart."