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Healthy Annicaro dominates Bayside in ‘Dozo win

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Before she even stepped in the circle, Amanda Annicaro was the center of attention. When she went to the umpires to discuss ground rules, the Cardozo ace and captain was greeted by every single Bayside player wishing her well.

“I thought it was nice,” Annicaro said. “The pitchers were really nice. They came up to me and asked how I was doing.”

Added Cardozo Coach Larry Alberts: “I thought that was class all the way.”

Annicaro has had a rough spring. She missed Cardozo’s first seven games with a mysterious illness that doctors still have not figured out. It was a lot like how the Bayside batters were against her Friday afternoon.

The cool, calm and collected senior right-hander was absolutely superb in just her fourth game back, giving up just two runs on two hits with nine strikeouts to lead Cardozo to a big, 3-2 win against Bayside in PSAL Queens A-I softball. Annicaro left the tying run stranded at third base in the top of the seventh to seal the victory.

“She was on — she was really on,” Alberts said. “She was throwing strikes the whole game and that’s really the key.”

Not for Annicaro. Her key was just being out there on the field. She came to as many games and practices she could while battling the illness, which included a procedure on glands in her neck. At one point, doctors even feared she might have had cancer.

“It feels amazing to be back,” Annicaro said.

And the Judges (9-2) couldn’t be happier to have her. Her younger sister Alyssa did a solid job in her absence, but she has been Cardozo’s ace — the face of the program — for the better part of four years. She’s also been one of the better pitchers in the entire PSAL. Last year, Annicaro was 16-0 with a 0.88 ERA and led the team to its first PSAL Class A semifinals in more than 25 years.

“We’re a different team with Amanda,” Alberts said. “Alyssa kept us in the playoff picture, but Amanda is our girl.”

Added senior first baseman Anna Laboccetta: “The team is so much more confident with her here. We’re so comfortable with her.”

The Bayside hitters couldn’t say the same thing. Annicaro used her superior movement and control to keep them guessing all game. Commodores Coach Steve Piorkowski didn’t seem to mind, though. He sent out his players before the game to greet her and wish her the best.

“Life is bigger than softball,” he said. “She’s a great kid, a great competitor. I’m very happy she’s doing well.”

Alberts feared she might have gotten tired late against Bayside (9-2), but that wasn’t the case. Annicaro is a bulldog — she just wants the ball. She demanded it against John Bowne last Thursday and proceeded to throw three perfect innings with six strikeouts.

With her in the circle, Cardozo could become an elite team in the PSAL like it was last year. The Judges are also still waiting to get senior catcher Sam Mersten back from a foot injury as well.

“I can’t wait for the playoffs,” Annicaro said.

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