It was not the season they envisioned, but it couldn’t have ended any better.
Erin Steinert pitched a complete game to lead the St. Anthony’s softball team to its first state championship in school history, a 6-5 win over Archbishop Molloy on Tuesday at St. John’s.
Steinert, a senior, was thrust into the everyday starting pitcher role this season after standout junior Alyssa Seidler went down with shoulder tendinitis in the season opener. Steinert led St. Anthony’s (17-5) with 12 wins and assumed the role of captain on a team that lost in the state final three times in the past four seasons.
Seidler, in her first start back from injury, pitched a no-hitter, striking out 11, and hit a two-run single in the top of the eighth inning in the Friars’ 2-0 victory over Moore Catholic in the CHSAA semifinal. After watching Seidler’s masterpiece, Steinert finished the job.
“Erin has been carrying the load this year and I just wanted to help her in any way possible,” Seidler said. “She’s the ultimate teammate and embodies captain leadership…And she carried us today.”
In the final, St. Anthony’s scored five runs in the top of the first, with Christa Michaels having a two-run single. Steinert gave up a run in the bottom of the inning, but St. Anthony’s scored in the second to take a 6-1 lead. Steinert followed with three scoreless innings but Molloy’s bats eventually woke up. Kelsey Carr blasted a two-run homer in the fifth and Angelina Rama led off the sixth with a solo shot to make it 6-4. Molloy added a run when Nikki McNamara scored from third on a passed ball. After a scoreless top of the seventh for the Friars, Steinert entered the final half-inning with a 6-5 lead.
With Seidler available for the save opportunity, St. Anthony’s coach Mike Massa had a decision to make, but decided to stick with Steinert.
“I told Erin, listen, I believe in you, you’ve done it all year, I know you can get it done,” Massa said of his conversation with Steinert before the bottom of the seventh. “We rode you the whole year and you’re going to take us to the finish line.”
Steinert went out and struck out two, including the final batter, in a 1-2-3 inning to complete the Friars’ journey and make school history.