By Dylan Butler
Lauren Cassidy had been there before, just two days earlier.
It was a different borough, a different opponent and a different scenario. But it still felt familiar to the Forest Hills second baseman.
So Cassidy simply did the same thing she did in the PSAL ‘B’ semifinals Friday: She belted the game-winning hit as her two-run double to left field in the sixth inning capped a remarkable comeback for Forest Hills. The team came from 6-0 down to defeat Richmond Hill, 11-6, to win the PSAL ‘B’ city softball championship Sunday at St. John’s University.
“I just waited for a strike and I just wanted to hit it,” Cassidy said. “Not for myself, but for my team.”
With No. 6 Forest Hills (21-7) trailing Jamaica 3-1 Friday at the ASA Complex, Cassidy also smacked a two-run double to left field in a five-run sixth inning en route to a come-from-behind 7-4 win.
On Sunday, the Rangers again dug themselves a hole, this time a 6-0 deficit after three innings to fourth-seeded Richmond Hill (23-3-1), but Cassidy and her teammates thought back to Friday’s semifinal.
“Coach told us we scored five runs in an inning,” she said. “We never give up. We knew what we had to do.”
After a five-run fourth inning, when Richmond Hill pitcher Jaspreet Kaur gave up just one infield single but walked three, hit two batsmen, tossed a wild pitch and was victimized by one passed ball, Forest Hills tied the game at 6 on Tanty Djafar’s RBI-single to left field in the fifth inning.
Brittney Moscia and Jessica Chow led off the sixth inning by belting back-to-back singles to center field — the hardest hit balls off Kaur to that point — and Maria Vega reached on an error to load the bases and set the scene for Cassidy’s heroics.
“Lauren is my girl,” Chow said. “She got a hit vs. Jamaica and she did it again. She came through.”
Cassidy also helped bail out Chow, who struggled early, giving up six runs on five hits while walking six through the first three innings.
“I was nervous the first couple of innings. I wasn’t feeling comfortable on the mound,” Chow said. “I was thinking too much.”
After the Rangers’ five-run fourth, when Kaur complained about the dirt at the front of the mound, Chow just got stronger as Kaur tired.
“The pitching mound was all screwed up, but she didn’t tell me until an inning and a half later when she started walking people,” Richmond Hill coach Rob Kushnick said of Kaur. “She got tired as well; her speed definitely decreased.”
The senior hurler allowed a leadoff single by Natasha Simon in the fourth inning, but she then retired 12 of the final 14 batters she faced as Forest Hills celebrated its first-ever softball city championship.
“I’m so proud of my team, the way they battled back,” said a beaming Jonas Garelle, the Rangers’ head coach and a 1985 Forest Hills graduate. “We’ve been resilient all year. I couldn’t be happier for Forest Hills.”
Tottenville 3, Bryant 1. Nicole Pignatelli allowed no earned runs on six hits while going 3-for-3 at the plate for No. 1 Tottenville (19-3) in the PSAL ‘A’ semifinals at the ASA Complex on Staten Island Friday.
After Jessica Santiago’s RBI-single in the fourth inning brought No. 4 Bryant (35-4) to within 2-1, the Owls loaded the bases but Pignatelli struck out Amanda Acevedo, one of her four strikeouts, to end the threat.
Reach Associate Sports Editor Dylan Butler by e-mail at TimesLedger@aol.com or call 718-229-0300, ext. 143.