By Joseph Staszewski
Archbishop Molloy infielder Kristen Ponticelli worried she had given St. Joseph by the Sea new life after bobbling a ground ball that would have been the title softball game’s final out.
“I thought that if somebody scored, it would be my fault,” the second baseman said.
Ponticelli immediately made sure that wasn’t the case. Vanessa Jioia immediately hit a hard ground ball her way. The senior ranged far to her left and grabbed the ball on a hop with an outstretched glove. She then waited no time in firing the ball to Dana Moss at first, starting a mosh pile in the pitcher’s circle.
“I was going to dive for it. I would have thrown my head in front of it,” Ponticelli said. “Anything.”
The play closed out Molloy’s thrilling 1-0 win over rival St. Joseph by the Sea in the CHSAA state semifinals/city title game May 29 at Kellenberg in Uniondale, L.I.
Catholic University-bound ace Victoria Goldbach threw one of the finest games of her storied career, allowing just two hits, a walk and striking out eight to a team Molloy (14-2) had never beaten in program history. The Stanners would go on to loss to Kellenberg 5-0 in the state final.
“It’s my senior year,” Goldbach said. “This is what we have been wanting to do for four years. It couldn’t feel any better.”
She said she didn’t throw a fastball all game and just tried to keep the Sea hitters off balance. The Vikings (15-1) beat her 6-2 during the regular season and 3-2 in the state title game two years ago. The lack of base runners kept the Vikings from implementing their small ball game. Taylor Moss had a shoestring catch in right in the third and older sister Dana made a great scoop of a throw from Goldbach to strand a runner at second in the fifth.
“What are you going to do?” Sea Coach Mike Ponsiglione said. “The kid pitched a great game. I told my kids we didn’t lose the game. They won the game.”
Molloy’s lone run off Sea starter Alexa Tedeschi came in the third. Dana Moss, who had two hits, got a one-out single and Maria Palmeri followed with one of her own. Fallon McCarthy then delivered her second hit of the game, a line drive over short to give Molloy a 1-0 lead. Moss was in the No. 2 spot and Ponticelli dropped to ninth to create what was a more dynamic order.
“It was kind of indescribable,” the senior junior third baseman said. “I was just kind of going crazy.”
Tedeschi, who allowed seven hits and two walks, like Ponsiglione gave all the credit to Goldbach. While Tedeschi will graduate, much of the Vikings team returns including pitchers Jackie Cautela and Lianna Jordon. Sea, which won the consolation game over Sacred Heart (Buffalo) 7-0, reclaimed the CHSAA Archdiocesan crown with a 1-0 win over Preston. Another state title after 2010 will have to wait.
“As a team I think we did all that we can,” Tedeschi said. “Sometimes you cut it short a little bit. I think [Goldbach] just did awesome.”
Molloy Coach Maureen Rosenbaum nearly hurt assistant Coach Frank Leary, pushing off his shoulder as the final out was made. She said her team’s focus was to get past Sea and earn a chance to play for another state title. She and the Stanners had Goldbach to thank.
“She’s awesome,” Rosenbaum said. “She’s had a great career at Molloy.”
And this was her signature game.