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Terriers strike in first, hold off Bishop Kearney

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St. Francis Prep is playing backward in a sense, certainly the opposite of the way it won during the regular season.

“It’s odd for us not to score late and for us to score early,” shortstop Theresa Quinn said.

But that’s exactly what the Terriers have been doing in the playoffs. In a win over St. Edmund Prep Friday, SFP got the leadoff batter on, bunted her over and drove her in for the only run of the game. A similar situation presented itself against Bishop Kearney in the CHSAA Brooklyn⁄Queens semifinals.

Johanna Rice reached on an error, was bunted over by Nicole Weinman, moved to third on an infield single by Quinn and scored on a Toni Ann Groth ground out. Quinn later scored on a passed ball to give SFP an early lead.

“I’ll just take them any way I can get them at this point,” St. Francis Prep Coach Ann Marie Rich said. “… It’s nice that we can produce early.”

Quinn added, “If it works, don’t change it.”

Why would you?

The Terriers added a run in the fifth on a Kearney error and went on to beat the Tigers 3−1 at Floyd Bennett Field in Brooklyn Saturday. They advance to play rival Archbishop Molloy in the first two games of a best−of−three series for the diocesan championship starting at 3 p.m. Monday at Queens College.

“I’d rather get a few runs in the beginning then wait until the end,” Rice said. “It puts more pressure that way.”

Kearney responded with a run in the fourth. Joanna Emilio singled over shortstop and was bunted over to second by Kristen O’Neill, the Kearney catcher. Tiffany Irrera then hustled out a two−out RBI single to cut the St. Francis Prep (12−2) lead to 2−1.

Rice, who has walked just one batter this season, was again superb, after shutting out St. Edmund 1−0 in the quarterfinals. She located her pitches well all game, using both sides of the plate. The senior allowed just three hits, walked none and struck out seven, including six of the first 10 batters she faced.

“She was on,” Rich said. “She is doing better and better each game. She’s just so focused.”

Added Rice, “What I wanted to get done, I did.”

Irrera, the Kearney ace, was just as impressive, only allowing one earned run on four hits and striking out five. The Terriers’ scored their final run when Tiffany Beizer singled to lead off the fifth and scored when O’Neill’s throw beat first base Andrea Sideli to the bag and also got by right fielder Allura Pugliese to make it 3−1.

“I’ve never seen it before, but you know that it counts as a run,” Quinn said.

Kearney (13−1) got one last hope when Dana Iannicelli led off the seventh with a single, but Julia Pasternoster, Quinn and Carla Pennolino turned a taught, 4−6−3 double play.

“You practice it and it looks good, but it feels so much better during the game,” Rich said.

The Terriers, the defending diocesan champion, are also feeling strong heading into next week’s showdown with the Stanners.

“I’m so excited,” Quinn said. “I’m happy we are playing against Molloy.”

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