After taking the mound in her first career playoff start, an initially jittery Katie Siano gained confidence with each inning and each successful defensive play behind her.
The St. Francis Prep senior windmiller was thrown into her team’s most important games over the last week with ace Monica Zhivanaj still under the weather. Siano admitted to being nervous for the Terriers’ playoff matchup against No. 3 Fontbonne in the CHSAA Brooklyn/Queens softball semifinals at Cunningham Park May 11. But she quickly felt at ease – thanks to some help from her teammates.
“When they hit it, I don’t have that fear of looking behind me,” she said. “I knew that they have my back.”
Siano scattered five hits and struck out just three, but the second-seeded Terriers made all the plays behind her in a tidy 2-0 victory over Fontbonne. St. Francis Prep will defend its diocesan title against regular-season winner Archbishop Molloy in the best two-out-of-three championship series starting 3 p.m. Monday at Preller Field.
“This is what we work for every season,” Siano said. “To finally be able to say that we can come back here again is awesome.”
SFP had lost two straight coming into the contest. It fell to Fontbonne 3-0 May 4 and then saw Molloy rally to win 7-6 in a first-place tie-breaker game three days later. A weekend off helped the Terriers put it all behind them.
“We’ve had a tough couple of games,” SFP coach Ann Marie Rich said. “For them to come back, they played really, really well.”
Siano, who pitches to contact, wiggled out of two major jams to protect the 2-0 lead. She left the bases loaded with one out in the third by getting clean-up hitter Ariana Dillon to pop out and she struck out Nataliela Cognate. The Bonnies (9-6) put two on with one out in the fourth, but Siano induced consecutive groundouts to end the threat.
“She’s taken control,” Rich said. “That quiet little Katie to just come in and be the senior leader has been awesome.”
SFP (10-5) got all the runs it needed in the first two innings. Taylor Russo was hit by a pitch from Bonnie ace Bianca Marletta to open the game. Miranda Cintron then singled and Russo scored on an outfield error to make it 1-0. Rebecca Colak added an insurance run when she tripled to plate Nia Rivera in the second inning. “I took whatever I got and kind of just hit the ball,” Colak said.
Rich isn’t sure if Zhivanaj will be back for the diocesan championship, calling her day-to-day. Siano has proven to be more than up to the task and is growing more and more confident with her team’s help.
“The girls, they helped me out,” Siano said. “I called time in the first inning and I got myself together. After that it was just a breeze.”
Top-seeded Archbishop Molloy dug itself out of holes of 3-0 and 5-3 to defeat Mary Louis 12-6 and reach the Brooklyn/Queens championship series after a one-year layoff. The Hilltoppers beat Molloy 3-2 two weeks ago. Stanners coach Maureen Rosenbaum was impressed with how her team overcame the extra pressure that came with falling behind.
“I told them after the game that they learned how to fight through the last couple of games,” Rosenbaum said. “ It’s nice that they learned how to do that. They didn’t lose confidence in themselves and they fought back.”
Her team scored four runs in the fourth and four times in the sixth to pull away. Giovanna Bonilla, who has three RBI, delivered a two-run homer in the third and the rest of the Molloy offense picked it up from there. Jessica Hickey went 3-for-4 with three RBI, including a two-run double in the sixth. Camille Sears added three RBI behind winning pitcher Amanda Zeni.
©2015 Community News Group
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