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District 26 champs Glen Oaks girls defeat Kingsbridge

With a barrage of 17 hits and 21 steals in only four innings, the Glen Oaks Little League’s Girls, District 26 Junior League champs, advanced to the semifinals with a 25-13 first-round sectionals victory Saturday at Sy Spiler Field in Cunningham Park, located at 210th Street and 73rd Avenue in Bayside.

Gutsy pitching by the pair of Nicole Epstein and Alexis Namit, a lineup where everyone hit and scored, and fine fielding enabled Glen Oaks to win its third tournament game in three tries by outscoring their opponents by more then 10 runs after five innings of play. Glen Oaks previously swept a strong Mid-Queens Fresh Meadows Athletic Alliance team to win the District 26 Championship.

The 13- and 14 year-old softball team consists of six girls each from the Queens Surface Rockies and the State Senator Frank Padavan Blue Jays. Glen Oaks advanced to the Little League Softball Sectional Semifinals against Staten Island.

Nicole Epstein and Alexis Namit allowed only four hits and struck out eight in five innings. Namit, who started at shortstop, pitched the final 2.2 innings. Strong fielding kept the Kingbridge Little League All-stars from District 22 in the Bronx from coming back. In the first inning, catcher Marisa Bearak dived across home plate after retrieving a wild pitch to tag Kingsbridge’s Melisa G. who was dashing home from third for the final out. Londyn McCormick shagged a liner a third, not only preventing a base hit, but throwing to Pilar Contrera at first base to complete a double play for a scoreless second inning. The next inning, Epstein stopped a grounder to the right of the mound, held the runner on third and threw to Contrera at first for the out.

In a scoreless fourth inning, Diana Contreras, playing second base, caught a hard liner headed to right field. On the very next play, Jessica McMurray fielded a bullet in right field. Namit stabbed a squib grounder to the third base side of the mound, throwing home to Danielle Santopietro at the plate for the force out to end the game.

Batting 12 players in the first inning, Glen Oaks scored eight runs to take the lead back from Kingsbridge, which scored four first-inning runs to open the game. For the third successive tournament game lead-off hitter Namit stole home to score the first Glen Oaks run. After an out, McCormick followed walks to Santopietro, Bearak and leftfielder Tara McCullagh with a base hit. After centerfielder Lorey Giblin and Contreras walked, McCormick stole home and successive hits by Contrera, Namit and Epstein drove home runs.

Glen Oaks added two runs in the second and third innings. Bearak walked to lead-off the second, stole second, reached third of McCullagh’s hit and scored on McCormick’s hard single. McCullagh scored on Giblin’s ground out sacrifice. Aggressive base running by Namit, who reached on a fielder's choice and scored on a double by Epstein, who later stole third and continued home on an overthrow got Glen Oaks its 11th and 12th runs.

Glen Oaks sent 16 players to the plate in its last at bat, scoring 13 time. Successive singles by McCullagh, McCormick and Giblin, walks to Diana and Jessica and Alexis' double led to 4 run. Santopietro then drove home Namit and Epstein, who reached on a fielder’s choice and then scored when the ball got away. Singles by Bearak, McCormick, Contreras and McMurray sandwiched around a walk to Giblin, brought in three more runs. Namit completed the scoring with a two-run triple and steal of home.

Infielder-Outfielder Cynthia Johnson, the Rockies leading hitter for most of the season, missed the tournament after a leg injury in a pre-series scrimmage game, but led the cheers from the dugout. Catcher-infielder Alison Meigh was away and did not play.

Queens Surface Rockies co-manager Corey Bearak managed the team assisted by Rockies co-Manager Ira Epstein, Blue Jays Manager Phil Santopietro, Rockies coach Glen Johnson and Rockies coach/ scorekeeper Bill Giblin.

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