By Joseph Staszewski
Two rain-outs forced St. Francis Prep to wait a little longer for its first crack at Fontbonne Hall, which beat the Terriers in last year’s diocesan championship series.
“I know in the back of their minds, they were waiting for this for redemption,” SFP Coach Ann Marie Rich said.
Her team will have to hold out a little longer to be able to claim a victory after an 8-2 loss to the Bonnies in CHSAA Brooklyn/Queens softball at Cunningham Park April 10.
Fontbonne jumped to an early lead over the Terriers, thanks to a three-run triple by Nicolette Trapani, with two outs in the top of the first inning. SFP catcher Kelly Licul believed sophomore starting pitcher Monica Zhivanaj was being squeezed by the umpire on a few close strike calls that would have gotten the Terriers out of the frame.
“I felt a lot of them could have gone our way, but the pitcher and the catcher have to adjust to what the umpire is calling,” Licul said.
It was the Terriers’ modifications in the circle and at the plate that pleased Rich the most, especially after facing a slower pitcher in a win over Christ the King the day prior. Hits by Licul and Briana Emanuele and two Fontbonne errors led to two SFP runs in the fourth inning to cut the Bonnies’ lead to 3-2.
Zhivanaj did not allow a hit over the second, third and fourth innings.
“The first inning was rough, but we had to still adjust to her,” Licul said. “The fact that we did adjust to her even though we still lost is a big improvement.”
The Bonnies (4-0) got the two runs back in the top of the fifth to make it 5-2. Seven different Fontbonne players collected hits and five members of the team drove in runs. Rich was still pleased with how Zhivanaj handled herself against a strong lineup.
“She’s just phenomenal,” she said. “I’m not going to give up on her.”
St. Francis Prep (3-2), which had four hits in the day, never gave up on the game either. It had a number of hard-driven balls against Trapani, the Bonnies’ ace.
SFP loaded the bases with two outs in the bottom of the first after Licul lined a single off Trapani’s shin. Trapani, who got 12 of the game’s 21 outs by strikeout, had a full count on Jessica Menna before fanning her with a high fastball.
“You just have to hope for the best, hope you can work the count in your favor and do something productive,” Rich said.
Added Licul: “She is probably by far the best pitcher in this league.”
St. Francis Prep believes it is one of the best teams in Brooklyn/Queens despite the defeat by Fontbonne and another to Molloy early in the season. The Terriers lost shortstop Danielle Cervasio and centerfielder Tara O’Rourke, who graduated last year.
Junior varsity call-ups Alysaa Siess at shortstop and Anna Prisco, who plays right field, took over their spots in the starting lineup.
The Terriers will look to build on what they were able to do successfully against Fontbonne.
“Even though we did lose,” Licul said, “the confidence is going to be brought over to the next games we play them.”