Queens splits softball doubleheader with C.W. Post

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Brian DeMasters leaned back in his seat and smelled the success.

The Queens College coach was talking about his softball team’s 3-0 victory over powerhouse C.W. Post in the first game of a doubleheader Saturday, how Victoria Forsythe threw a five-hitter and Crystal Wilson smacked a homer over the left field fence that’s probably still going, and for a moment it seemed possible that Queens College (11-14, 6-6 NYCAC) might turn around what could be seen as a disappointing season.

Then the second game started at C.W. Post in Brookville, L.I. and Morgan Richeson, a freshman from Washington State, struck out eight batters and held the Knights to five hits in a 3-1 win.

And the future of Queens College became cloudy again.

“We can’t get depressed over it,” said DeMasters, a resident of Flushing in his 15th season as skipper and the NYCAC’s coach of the year in 2003. “These were two well-played games. We have a young team and we’re just realizing how good we can be.”

Last year’s senior-led group anchored by third team All-American Cheryl Cosenzo is now dominated by freshmen, sophomores and transfer students.

Saturday’s doubleheader was noteworthy because it was the first meeting between the teams since last season’s NYCAC Championship when the Knights, needing just one victory to clinch an NCAA Division II Tournament berth and a conference title, lost twice in the same day to eventual champion C.W. Post and had to settle for an at-large selection.

Queens was eliminated in the Northeast Regional. After starting the 2004 season 0-5 against non-conference opponents, the Knights have gone 11-9 and seem to be shaking off last season’s disappointment.

One player who appears to have her confidence back is junior Crystal Wilson, sidelined for most of the season with a knee injury she suffered last fall. Making her first appearance in the field this season at second base, Wilson tomahawked a high fastball from Amanda Moore (7-6) over the left-field fence in the first game to give the Knights a 2-0 lead in the third inning.

“I felt like I was seeing the pitches pretty well,” said Wilson, who had ACL surgery in November. “She was just hanging the ball out there, and I know we needed more runs. This was a big win because we haven’t been playing as well as we can.”

The Knights got on the board in the first inning when Jessica Blake reached first on an error and scored on a single by Jessica Paparella. The Knights took advantage of their speed in the sixth inning when Stephanie Santoro slammed a hit through the third base gap, scoring former John Adams standout Rita Limitone for a 3-0 score.

Fueled by generous run support, Forsythe (4-4), a sophomore, struck out three and didn’t allow an extra base hit in pitching a complete game.

The teams switched weapons in the second game, and it was Richeson who dominated from the mound for the Pioneers.

A newcomer suffering from homesickness when the season began, Richeson (4-0) is leaning on her team for both emotional and run support this season.

Blake scored for Queens College on a sacrifice fly by Crystal Wilson to take a 1-0 lead in the game’s opening stanza, only the second earned run Richeson has given up all year, but Jenny McLean doubled to right off Paparella (7-4) and scored on a past ball in the bottom of the inning to tie the score. C.W. Post (17-9, 10-2) added two more runs in the fourth inning on a single by Joanna Moccia to make it 3-1.

The win gave Pioneers’ head coach, Jamie Apicella, who has won consecutive NYCAC championships, the 200th victory of his six-year career.

“The achievement is a reflection of the teams I’ve had over the years,” said Apicella, who once played in the San Francisco Giants farm system and came within a victory of winning the Northeast Regional and appearing in the Division II Championship last year. “It’s easy for me to take credit, but it really shows how strong the students have been on those teams.”

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