The award for CHSAA softball player of the year goes to . . . the same girl who won it last season.
And the award for CHSAA softball pitcher of the year goes to . . . the same girl who won it last season.
Catcher Allie Pisciotta and pitcher Susan Pardo winning their respective awards were two of many similarities between this season and last for the Kellenberg softball team. But this one had a very different ending compared to the 24 seasons that preceded it. For the first time, Kellenberg went undefeated and won the state CHSAA championship.
That was thanks in large part to their award-winning battery-mates.
"Clearly with those two players, we had a great advantage over our competitors," Kellenberg coach Ken Conrade said. "Softball is a game of pitching and controlling things defensively. Teams felt enormous strain not to give up a run or two because, if we scored a run or two, we were almost assured a victory."
There were many victories, 29 of them.
Pisciotta hit .385 with three home runs and 16 RBIs, including the go-ahead RBI single in the championship game. She also handled a staff of three pitchers, caught many baserunners napping with her snap throws, and served as co-captain along with Alex Mancini.
Pardo went 11-0 with a 0.37 ERA and allowed only four earned runs in 79 innings pitched. She tossed a five-inning no-hitter with 10 strikeouts in a 10-0 win against St. John the Baptist to capture the CHSAA league title.
She allowed one hit and struck out 11 in a 2-0 win over Sacred Heart Academy of Buffalo in the state semifinal. Later that afternoon, she tossed a two-hitter with 15 strikeouts in a 5-0 win over Molloy to capture the state title.
"Nothing like this has ever happened in the school so it's a great thing to do with the girls," Pardo said. "When you get pitcher of the year or player of the year, you have to play with an edge. You always have to prove something because there are always doubters. We tried to prove that we are two of the best players in the Catholic League."
They've got some of the best players in the league surrounding them as well.
Eight players hit over .300 for the Firebirds, including Stephanie Staiano, Amanda Crimarco, Sabrina DeAngelis, Amy Quinn and Caitlin Kennedy, who was named the team's most improved player.
But the catalyst was the youngest player of all. Second baseman Krista King, the Firebird's only sophomore, hit a team-high .535 out of the leadoff spot and stole 21 bases. She scored 35 runs alone this season, while the entire Kellenberg pitching staff allowed just 24 runs combined.
Kellenberg may be losing Pisciotta to Stony Brook and Pardo to Wesleyan University, but the expectations for next season won't change.
"We have to keep building on what we've done as a team," King said. "I think we're capable of anything we set our mind to."
Who's capable of winning another state title next year? The same girls who won it this season.