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Red Hawks win PSAL ‘B’ softball championship

By Five Boro Sports

The game should have been over. Telecommunications was behind one run and down to its final out. Senior pitcher Tayla Johnson hit a soft line drive to left field, an easy play for Construction sophomore Eliza Barragan.

But she dropped it. Magaly Chabran came in to score for Telecom to tie the score, which sent the game into extra innings, and Barragan became the Red Hawks’ version of Luis Castillo.

“‘Ugh,’” Barragan said she was thinking at the time. “We’re gonna lose and it’s gonna be my fault.”

Little did Barragan know she would get a shot at redemption. With two on and two outs in the bottom of the eighth inning, Barragan blooped a single over the head of Chabran, the first baseman, and junior Antoinette Lisena raced in from third to score the winning run.

No. 1 Construction escaped with a 10-9, extra-innings win against No. 2 Telecommunications in the PSAL Class B softball championship round Saturday afternoon at St. John’s University in Queens. It is the first title won by Construction, a three-year-old school, in any sport. The Red Hawks, who don’t have any seniors, are only in their second year of varsity softball.

“That was crazy,” junior windmiller Sheila San Andres said. “We were in the dugout holding our hands, saying, ‘I hope we win.’”

Sophomore catcher Amanda Garcia said she was in tears when Barragan dropped the ball. Though Telecom (20-2) would have only earned a second game later Saturday because of the double-elimination format, Garcia didn’t want to see it get that far. In the bottom of the eighth, Lisena singled with one out and the catcher followed with a hard-hit single up the middle. Two batters later, Barragan came through with the biggest hit of her career.

“I was really proud of Eliza,” Garcia said. “She won the game for us.”

Barragan is known as the team’s smallest player, but also the one who works the hardest. She had added motivation to come through against Telecom, too. When the Yellow Jackets beat Construction (22-0) in the preseason Brownsville Recreation Center tournament, Barragan was the pitcher.

“That girl has worked so hard,” Coach Marco Migliaccio said. “She came from nowhere. All of my girls have come from nowhere, but she has really come from nowhere. She couldn’t catch, she couldn’t throw. To come up with a game-winning hit in a championship game, it’s unbelievable.”

It was really a back and forth affair. Construction went ahead 2-0 in the first inning due to some aggressive base running, but Telecom took the lead 4-2 in the second. The Red Hawks had a four-run fourth inning to make it 6-4 in their favor. The Yellow Jackets tied it up, on a Samantha Perez RBI double and run scored, in the fifth and made it 8-6 in their favor in the sixth when Vianca Ramirez drove in Idalia Herrera. Construction came right back in the bottom of the inning to score three runs — the big RBI hits coming off the bats of Alyssa Burke and Lisena.

“You better have that defibrillator,” Migliaccio told his coaches in the dugout. “I’m gonna need it.”

Construction had only trailed one other time in a league game this season — vs. Telecom in the semifinal round winner’s bracket Tuesday in a game the Red Hawks eventually won 8-6. Migliaccio said the Yellow Jackets hit San Andres better than any other team had all season.

“They had good hitters and they made me work hard,” the starter said.

But, in the end, Construction found a way. The Red Hawks is a team that has been marked by its hard work and dedication the last two seasons. Not a single player ever competed in softball before — San Andres was a dancer — and Migliaccio practices with them almost seven days a week. He even started a travel team with the Rich-Haven youth organization near the Ozone Park school.

All of that has now paid off with a championship.

“To get this far is amazing,” San Andres said. “For myself and for all of us.”

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