By Joseph Staszewski
Archbishop Molloy’s year ended in the season’s final game, just not with one last victory.
“This is as far as you can make it,” four-year starter Maria Palmeri said. “That’s what we tried to accomplish this year, just to get in this position.”
She and the Stanners, behind Catholic University-bound ace Victoria Goldbach, exorcised one of their final demons, beating rival St. Joseph by the Sea for the first time in program history in the CHSAA softball state semifinals. A second straight crown in their third straight appearance in the final was not to be as Molloy fell 5-0 to unbeaten Kellenberg in the final May 29 at Hofstra University. The Stanners topped the Firebirds in last year’s semis.
“We got here,” Molloy Coach Maureen Rosenbaum said. “We didn’t have enough bats. It was big for us to beat St. Joseph by the Sea.”
But in the final, Kellenberg ace Susan Pardo fired a two-hitter and struck out 15, including the side in the seventh. Molloy (14-3) had two runners on with one out in the fourth, thanks to a single by Dana Moss, who is headed to C.W. Post, and a walk to Fallon McCarthy. Pardo, who had 12 strikeouts in a semifinal win over Sacred Heart (Buffalo), fanned Kendall McNee and Goldbach to get out of it. Palmeri, who is also headed to C.W. Post, felt she and her team were overanxious.
“She has a good change-up,” McCarthy said with a hint of exacerbation.
Goldbach, who allowed just two hits against Sea, gave up 10 to Kellenberg (29-0). She said they battled her more and worked long at bats. The Firebirds scored twice in the third, two more in the fifth and added a run in the sixth. Stephanie Staiano had two hits and two RBIs and the blazing fast Krista King added two hits and two runs scored.
“It was hard for me to keep them off balance,” Goldbach said.
The loss brings a close to the fine careers of Molloy’s six seniors, including Moss, Palmeri and Goldbach. The three brought an era of unprecedented success to Briarwood. Palmeri won four straight CHSAA Brooklyn/Queens titles and together they have earned three to go along with consecutive city crowns and the program’s first-ever state championship.
“They have led the program for the last four years,” Rosenbaum said. “They are strong leaders, they are strong competitors. They are all going to play college ball.”
They guided Molloy through one of its more difficult seasons in recent years. The Stanners lost their opener to Fontbonne Hall, fell to Preston and were beaten by Mary Louis late in the year. Molloy had to rally twice late to sweep rival St. Francis Prep in the diocesan championship series, but as usual played its best when it mattered most.
“It started off on a little bit of a rough note,” Goldbach said. “We didn’t even think we would get here and we made it.”