By Joseph Staszewski
Scholars Academy never stopped believing the game was over, because it has given itself plenty of reasons to feel that way.
The Seawolves trailed Robert H. Goddard by five runs heading into their final trip to the plate but didn’t bat an eye at their predicament in the PSAL Class B softball championship.
Why would they after scoring nine times while down two runs in the top of the seventh to beat defending champions Queens High School of Teaching in the semifinal? Scholars has beaten Goddard three times in the last four years when trailing and going into the final frame. Comebacks are kind of its thing.
“We’ve done it before,” Seawolves Coach Jessica Henck said.
And they did it again in dramatic fashion.
Scholars Academy was down to its final out for four batters and its final strike twice, but scored six times in the bottom of the seventh inning to rally past Goddard 7-6 to win the school’s PSAL Class B title Sunday at St. John’s University.
The undefeated Seawolves celebrated in front of their dugout as stunned Goddard players stood frozen at their positions after a comeback that stunned everyone but Scholars.
“We never really lost our confidence in ourselves,” said centerfielder Jessica Glaz, who had two hits and two RBIs.
Instead, it kept building as her team drew closer and closer. Hannah Molino scored on an error with one out and Kayla Nolan came home on a pass ball to make it 6-3 with two outs. The game appeared over when Luisa Belfiore lined the ball to left, but it was dropped to give Scholars another run and new life.
Lauren Hegel followed with an RBI-double to left with two strikes and Glaz tied the score at 6-6 with a double, again with two strikes. Saravo ended the game by lining the first pitch she saw from Goddard ace Victoria Picarella to score Glaz as the winning run.
“The pressure was on and I tried to dismiss it,” Saravo said. “I was scared, but I guess I have to hit it.”
Goddard, which lost to Scholars (18-0) twice in the regular season, was in complete control of the game until the final frame. It jumped all over its division rival early with a five-run first inning. Goddard’s Marissa Maisonet brought home Jayne Samoleski with a walk and Victoria Tibball and Danielle Caputo each delivered two-run singles to push the lead to 5-0. The Jaguars (16-4) made it 6-0 when they added a run and sac fly by Maisonet.
Picarella was fantastic again after being a hard luck loser in last year’s title game. The senior allowed five hits over the first six innings, none for extra bases, walked just three and struck out seven. But the Jaguars just couldn’t complete the win.
“We kept them [down] the whole game, but for some reason [the Seawolves] always have a big seventh inning, which we knew, but we still couldn’t stop them,” Goddard Coach Jessica Vogt said.
Scholars’ victory is the completion of a three-year quest for the team’s four seniors, who helped start the school’s softball program in 2012. Hurricane Sandy complicated the beginning of last season, but brought the team closer together and even more focused on bringing home the crown.
“We all just came back stronger than we were before,” Saravo said. “It just all really worked out.”
Just like they believed it would.