As the granddaughter of author Mario Puzo, St. Anthony's Kim Puzo is used to hearing "The Godfather" references about offers she can't refuse.
Saturday, it was more of an offer she was glad to accept, as her softball coach gave her the opportunity to swing away in a key situation against Kellenberg.
"I had a 3-and-0 count, and Coach told me I could swing," Puzo said. "So I did."
She couldn't refuse the green light, or the fastball down the middle. Her double tied the score in the third, and Tori Byrnes drove in the go-ahead run in the fourth as St. Anthony's defeated Kellenberg, 4-2, Saturday in CHSAA softball.
"We all work together," said Puzo, a senior, "and it really does feel like we are a family."
At home, "The Godfather" trilogy is a real family affair. "We watch the movies together sometimes," she said. She never knew her grandfather, who died in 1999 when she was 2. "We have Sunday dinners and all that. We are a big Italian family."
Kim said she first watched the movie at age 14, adding the family has some Godfather souvenirs, but not much.
Her softball family improved to 11-0 and swept the season series with the Firebirds (8-3), the three-time defending state champions.
Gabby Marcheschi, with an impressive drop curve and screwball, allowed two unearned runs and one hit, a single by Kelly Rasulo in the sixth, while going the distance. "I was hitting my spots," she said. "But our infield and outfield has been so clutch all season. I always know I can count on them."
But St. Anthony's normally sure-handed defense committed three errors in the second, allowing Kellenberg to take a 2-0 advantage.
Shannon Forman answered in the bottom of the inning with a sacrifice fly to score Gabby Puglia. In the third, Puzo lined a double to left and Amber Mahoney slid home safely to even the score at 2 despite a perfect throw from Kellenberg's Amanda Riveira.
After Puglia led off the fourth with a single, Byrnes brought her home with a double to give the Friars a 3-2 lead. Forman's RBI groundout increased the lead to 4-2.
"We get hits when we need them," Byrnes said, "and we always come out on top."
They certainly have a balanced lineup that delivers timely hits -- the team has 12 total home runs by eight different girls. But they also have a cohesive defense, which was flawless after the first inning, and a pitcher who moves the ball.
"We need to stay focused," Puzo said. "It matters more in the playoffs. But we are working great together and I think we can go far. We literally play like we're a family."