By Joseph Staszewski
What Construction, in Woodhaven, did by winning its first PSAL Class A softball title is remarkable without even including the wild seventh inning rally that made it possible.
Just four years ago the Red Hawks and Coach Marc Migliaccio were enjoying taking home the league’s ‘B’ title. On Sunday they were taking down top-seeded Tottenville, one of the city’s best high school sports dynasties 3-2 at St. John’s University to win the crown at the highest level.
The new kids on the block beat the old-guard juggernaut Pirates, who were looking for their ninth title in the last 10 years, for the second time this season. Construction rallied for a 6-5 victory to snap the Staten Island school’s 117-game regular season winning streak back in May. The Red Hawks are the only team to beat Tottenville twice in a season in at least the last seven years.
Add in that Construction is the first Queens team to take home the coveted PSAL banner since Francis Lewis in 2002 and you have a special title.
“We proved we could do it,” ace Britney Rodriguez said. “It wasn’t a fluke.”
Some of the former players like pitcher Sheila San Andres, who put the program on the map initially, being there to see the victory made it even more special for Migliaccio, who always thought this was his best shot.
“Having Sheila here who won it the first time, it was sweet,” he said. “Winning it in the ‘B’ was an accomplishment, but this in the ‘A’ is unbelievable.”
The title didn’t come without a bit of controversy, though.
Red Hawks catcher Kailan Luciano slid hard into Tottenville pitcher Cheryl Lopez near the plate. She knocked the ball free from her glove to score the tying run during a three-run top of the seventh.
The Pirates weren’t happy the umpires ruled it a legal play because Luciano didn’t have time or room to slide properly, but it will stay that way.
The play reveals more about Luciano’s mindset than anything else. She felt she had to do what she did. It was going to be the difference between winning and losing and to beat a dynasty like Tottenville you have to take a risk.
“That was my idea,” Luciano said. “I was just going to barrel in. There was no other option.”
Luciano has been a major player in Construction’s rise, including a two-run walk-off blast in the regular season win. She, though, has not been the face of the run. That distinction belongs to Rodriguez, who scattered seven hits, walked just one and struck out five.
A player of her caliber, especially as a dominant pitcher, immediately adds legitimacy to the program. The flame-throwing junior lefty can quell even the most dangerous of lineups and her bat got the seventh inning rally started with a base hit.
This win by no means indicates Construction will unseat Tottenville as the next PSAL softball dynasty. While beaten on this day, the Pirates show no signs of slowing down after 12 straight appearances in the final.
Construction has a long way to go to get to that point, but in 2013 no one was better.