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Cardozo breaks tie, wins 2nd straight division title

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Normally in PSAL softball, a tie at the top of the division standings is just that — a tie. But the players and coaches at Cardozo and Bayside wouldn’t have it.

Both teams finished with identical records in Queens A-I and split two games this season. The two rival coaches petitioned the league for a rubber match and it was granted.

“The girls wanted to play — that’s what it comes down to,” Cardozo Coach Larry Alberts said. “A tie, to me, is like kissing your sister.”

The only thing the Judges will be kissing after last Thursday is the imaginary division title trophy. Cardozo squeaked out a hard-fought, 1-0 win against Bayside to win its second straight Queens A-I crown. Before last year, the Judges had not won since 2001 and they have never won two consecutive titles in Alberts’ 25-year tenure.

“That’s why this one is really sweet,” the coach said.

Senior ace Amanda Annicaro was absolutely brilliant, tossing a one-hit shutout. And that lone hit was erased in the fifth inning by a 6-4-3 double play turned by shortstop Sandy Tomasik, who also happened to have the game’s lone RBI in the sixth when she drove in Jen McCormick with a single.

“I love watching that,” Alberts said of the double play. “That’s what softball is all about. It doesn’t happen very often.”

Starting pitcher Kaitlyn Klein of Bayside (11-3) almost matched Annicaro pitch for pitch, giving up just five hits. Cardozo (12-2), though, still has not lost a game since Annicaro returned from illness. The Judges have won seven straight since they beat Townsend Harris April 23 with her in the circle making her season debut. Annicaro was sidelined until then with a mysterious illness doctors could not diagnose, but required a procedure done on glands in her neck.

“Between [graduating] three good players and Amanda getting sick, who ever expected this?” Alberts said. “I didn’t even care about this season. I just wanted her to get better.”

Her comeback has been nothing short of sensational and that’s what she was Thursday.

“She was pitching perfectly, hitting every target I gave her,” Judges catcher Sam Mersten said.

The victory could land Cardozo the No. 5 in the upcoming PSAL playoffs, which start Friday. But Alberts wasn’t worried about that as much. Crowning a division champion was foremost in the minds of all players and coaches involved in the heated rivalry.

“We really wanted this game and knew what it was going to take to win,” Mersten said. “But having Amanda and our full team back, we knew we would do it.”

Updated 5:55 pm, October 10, 2011
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