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Judy McCleary — TimesLedger PSAL Softball Coach of the Year

Naming Francis Lewis’ Judy McCleary PSAL Queens Softball Coach of the Year didn’t exactly take long hours of painstaking deliberation.

Not when you’re the head coach of a team that wrestled the city championship away from Staten Island for the first time in 17 years and won the first softball title at Francis Lewis in 27 years.

“I don’t think you could’ve written a better chapter,” said McCleary, whose team defeated Tottenville, 8-6, in the title game. “We set goals in the beginning of the year to reach the finals and to do so was such a big thing. When we got there, it wasn’t good enough. We wanted to win it and they worked so hard.”

The thing that separated McCleary’s Patriots squad and others from Queens that came close to winning the city championship is that they weren’t intimidated by playing a Staten Island team in the finals.

“When you show kids you believe in them and are confident, it goes right down the line,” McCleary said. “They were very confident, they believed in themselves.”

Of course, it didn’t hurt to have a veteran battery of Alyssa Schneebaum and Lucia Oswald.

“They pushed each other. They had a bond and they competed with each other,” McCleary said. “It helped them both. They both do well under pressure.”

McCleary, in her seventh year at the helm, is no stranger to winning city championships. As a senior at Christ the King, McCleary — the starting outfield — and the Royals won the Catholic crown before going on to play at Queens College.

“I think a team is a reflection of you, about how you coach,” McCleary said. “I was a hard worker, very scrappy and I try and get that into my kids. I’m not a yeller and a screamer. I’m more into talking to them about working hard.”

As Francis Lewis went further and further in the playoffs, it became clear the Patriots would make a serious push towards the championship game and making history.

“We didn’t think about winning it, we just wanted to get there,” McCleary said. “We just wanted to be in the game and then see what happens.”

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