By Joseph Staszewski
This is the team Mary Louis expected to be when the year started.
The Hilltoppers followed up a win over St. Francis Prep by beating defending CHSAA state champions Molloy 8-7 in CHSAA Brooklyn/Queens Class AA softball at Cunningham Park Friday.
“It’s been inside us the whole season and it’s coming out,” senior third baseman Shannon Minihane said.
Coach Ginny Peiser said it’s been seven years since TMLA last beat the Stanners and she can’t remember the last time they beat the Stanners and SFP in the same week. Sophomore ace Nicole Hubert ended the game by striking out Geena Campisi with the tying run on third base.
“The seniors really wanted it bad,” Peiser said.
One of those were Minihane, who struck out with the bases loaded to end the game in a loss to Fontbonne less than a week ago. She went 3-for-4 with a two-run homer in the first inning, a double and three RBIs.
“This is the player she is,” Hubert said. “The way she performed today that’s the real Shannon.”
Added Peiser, “You should have seen the smile on her face.”
She followed with a homer of her own in the first off freshman Amanda Zeni. Deirdre Munday added a sacrifice fly to make it 4-0 in favor of TMLA (5-5). Molloy’s Fallon McCarthy’s three-run triple cut the lead to 4-3. The Hilltoppers responded with two more runs in the second thanks to a Sam Rossi sac fly and a Minihane single that extended to the lead to 6-3. Molloy (7-2) got a run on a Theresa Conway homer in the bottom of the frame.
“How we played against Prep, we brought it right to the first inning,” Peiser said.
Mary Louis got another run thanks to an Alyssa Paolicelli single in the third to go ahead 7-4 and the Stanners brought in ace Victoria Goldbach to start the fourth. Taylor Moss added an RBI single in the fifth for Molloy and a Julie Canova sac fly made it 8-5. An outfielder error led to two Molloy runs with no outs in the bottom of the seventh, but Hubert was able to get two strikeouts and a fielder’s choice to end it.
“I told her before that [last] pitch, ‘Nicole there is no one better than you’ and she proved that,” Minihane said.
The Hilltoppers may be starting to prove that as well. Mary Louis has lost a bevy of close games this season, including two to Molloy, and Minihane believes putting themselves in tough situations in practice has prepared them for when they face them in a game.
“It’s a matter of rolling into the playoffs,” Peiser said. “Who’s the last team standing? I still believe it’s going to be us, especially if we keep playing like this.”