By Joseph Staszewski
Jamie Durso delivered in the clutch again with a championship on the line.
For the third time this post season the junior had a hand in the winning run. This time it was a booming two-run double off the left field fence with two outs in the top of the sixth inning to score Camile Sears and Victoria Brown.
“I just needed to get a hit,” Durso said. “I didn’t care how it was or if it was a sacrifice fly. I just needed to get our teammate in.”
It provided the final margin in the Stanners’ 3-1 victory over St. Anthony’s in the CHSAA Class AA softball state final at Hofstra University Wednesday. It is Molloy’s second crown in the last five years. Durso had a walk-off single in the first-place tiebreaker game against St. Francis Prep and bunted over the winning run in Game 3 of the diocesan championship series.
“I have no doubt that whenever Jamie is up with two outs, it is going to be a base hit and there are going to be runs scored,” Columbia-bound senior Alexandra Yule said. “That’s just type of kid she is. She’s a clutch batter.”
Durso, who had two hits in the game, provided more than enough cushion for Molloy starter Amanda Zeni. The Stanners jumped ahead 1-0 in the first inning when Jessica Hickey singled home Ally Klesin with two away.
Zeni, a senior, was able to strand five St. Anthony’s runners over the first four innings, including the bases loaded with one out in the third. The Friars (20-2) finally got even at 1-1 in the fifth on a one-out single from Kim Puzo, granddaughter of “The Godfather” writer Mario Puzo.
Zeni bore down again the sixth to strand a runner at third after a lead-off walk and worked around a single to start the seventh. She allowed just five hits to a team that had scored two runs or less just four times this season. St. Anthony’s beat Molloy 12-5 back in early April.
“It was our last game,” Zeni said. “I felt like I had to pull through.”
Molloy (20-5) got to the final with a 3-1 victory over St. Joseph by Sea in the semifinal and city title game, thanks to one big swing of the bat. Sears blasted the first pitch she saw in the third inning over the right field fence for a three-run homer after singles from Klesin and Yule.
“I was just thinking contact and seeing the first good one,” Sears said. “My coach told me line drives, so I tried to keep it up.”
It was more than enough for Yule. She was wild and nervous early, but a visit to the circle from the catcher Brown with two on in the first inning settled her down. Yule went on to allow just one run on four hits and walked just two.
“It is a first for everyone on this team to make it this far,” Yule said. “As a team we needed to take a step back and take a deep breath and realize we could do it, but we had to do it our way.”
Molloy did what this group thought it was capable of beginning three years ago. Its five seniors suffered through a season as sophomores that saw the Stanners post run-rule defeats early. Last season it fell 1-0 to Mary Louis in the diocesan semifinals. All of that made the group stronger and taught them how to win.
“This is one of my favorite groups,” Molloy coach Maureen Rosenbaum said. “They fought from the time they started on varsity.”
The battle ended with Molloy fighting its way to the top.