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Kim Westenberg pitches Massapequa softball to first county title

Kimberly Westenberg #33, Massapequa pitcher, reacts after striking

Kimberly Westenberg #33, Massapequa pitcher, reacts after striking out the final batter in her team's 4-0 win over host East Meadow High School in Game 2 of the Nassau County Class AA softball final on Saturday, June 12, 2021.  Credit: James Escher

As soon as she caught the final pitch, Massapequa catcher Antonia Busa made a beeline right to pitcher Kim Westenberg.

So did the rest of the Massapequa players, who jumped around their talented junior pitcher in the middle of the diamond. This was a celebration decades in the making — a ‘Massapequa Moment’ — unlike any other for its softball program.

Westenberg was masterful with a two-hit, 12-strikeout performance as No. 1 Massapequa defeated host and second-seeded East Meadow, 4-0, to sweep the best-of-three Nassau Class AA championship series. It is Massapequa’s first county title in the program’s history.

Westenberg threw a no-hitter to open the series for Massapequa (14-4), which will meet the Suffolk AA champ for the Long Island championship at Moriches Athletic Complex at noon Saturday.

"It was a pretty cool moment," said the 5-1 Busa, who jumped into the arms of the 6-foot Westenberg to commence the postgame celebration. "It felt really good, especially since this is the first time that Massapequa has won counties. It’s a great moment."

There were many great moments for Massapequa throughout the afternoon. Leadoff hitter Ryan Starr, who got on base in all four of her at-bats, singled with one out in the third inning and stole second. Westenberg (2-for-4) then helped her own cause with a double to left-centerfield to open the scoring.

Madison Gangi (2-for-3) added a ground-rule double in the fourth that plated Catherine Capparelli to make it 2-0. Capparelli, who was a triple short of the cycle, smashed a two-run home run on the first pitch of her at-bat in the sixth to close the scoring.

"Honestly, I wasn’t going to swing at it; it was weird," she said. "But when I saw it, I said, ‘I want it.’ "

Westenberg wanted it, too. The SUNY Cortland-commit allowed a walk to open the game, and a sharply-hit single by pitcher Alex Kelly in the second inning.

After that hit, Westenberg retired 17 of the last 18 batters she faced, including 11 strikeouts during the stretch using a great rise pitch and a solid curveball.

Ciana Santana managed a bunt single in the sixth for East Meadow (9-9) which had won three straight Nassau and Long Island AA titles from 2017-19. (There was no season in 2020 because of COVID-19.)

"She had us off-balance for two games," East Meadow coach Stew Fritz said. "Even when we hit the ball, we didn’t hit it hard. It was more defensive swings. . . . They played a great series and she played great."

Massapequa began the season 6-1, but lost three straight games in mid-May before rallying to win its last eight games.

Coach Christina Castellani, who played softball and graduated from Massapequa in 1998, finally helped her alma mater reach the top of the Nassau AA mountain.

"I have so many thoughts — joy, gratitude," said the third-year head coach. "It means the world to me. It means so much that we finally pulled through."

Westenberg couldn’t have been happier to pitch Massapequa to that elusive first title.

"It was the goal that everybody wanted," she said, "and I think that’s what motivated people and pushed everybody to get here."

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