Despite a five-run cushion after the first inning of game three of the Nassau County Class AA softball championship series on May 23, East Meadow junior pitcher Kerri Shapiro considered no lead safe against MacArthur.
“It was always 0-0 in my mind,” Shapiro said. “They’re such a strong rallying team, so I didn’t want to give them anything at all. I didn’t want this to be the last game for our seniors.”
Shapiro got MacArthur senior standout Jena Cozza to end the top of the second with a deep fly to right with the bases loaded, and the top-seeded Lady Jets exploded for five more runs in the third on their way to a 12-1 victory at Mitchel Athletic Complex. Shapiro allowed just one hit, walked six and struck out 11. Senior Danielle Cutuli and junior Madison West homered and drove in two runs apiece.
“These girls have been motivated on getting back here and winning ever since last season ended,” East Meadow coach Stew Fritz said. “I’m very proud of them and feel blessed to be their coach.”
It was the fourth straight appearance in the county finals for the Lady Jets, and their first title since 2010. They will play the Suffolk AA representative for the Long Island championship on Tuesday, June 4, at 5:30 p.m., at St. Joseph’s College in Patchogue.
MacArthur, the defending champion, forced the series to go the distance with a stunning come-from-behind 9-6 win in Game 2 on May 21. The Lady Generals’ seven-run rally in the bottom of the sixth was something Fritz said his team couldn’t afford to dwell on. “We had to put it in the rearview mirror quick,” he said. “There was no reason to look back, because we had to play another game.”
The Lady Jets, who took the series opener on May 20, 5-2, behind a dozen Shapiro strikeouts, came out swinging like there was no tomorrow. Cutuli got it started with a long homer to left with one out, and West hit a carbon copy blast after a Shapiro single to make it 3-0. Senior Dina LaRosa singled and came around to score on a wild pitch, and junior Tiana LaRosa capped the rally by driving in junior Claire Travis, who had reached on a bunt, with a single.