By Joseph Staszewski
Archbishop Molloy played more slugfests and gave up more runs than it would like to remember on its way to the CHSAA state tournament, only to see its pair of aces come through when it mattered most.
“I just kept drilling to the two of them, we need the two of you at the end,” Molloy coach Maureen Rosenbaum said.
Seniors Amanda Zeni and Alexandra Yule saved their best performances for their final games, each overcoming some adversity on their way to a Catholic state softball title.
“For both of us it is really special,” Zeni said.
The Columbia-bound Yule, a three-year starter, was the hard luck loser in last season’s 1-0 loss to Mary Louis in the Brooklyn/Queens semifinal. This year, she tossed a gem in Game 2 of the Brooklyn/Queens championship series, with Molloy facing elimination. In her first state tournament game she settled down after a shaky start. Yule limited St. Joseph by the Sea to just one run on four hits for a 3-1 victory in the state semifinal.
Zeni, a four-year varsity player, missed most of last season with tendonitis. It limited her ability to help a Molloy team that was talented enough for a deep playoff run last season as well. In her final game in Briarwood, Zeni worked her way in and out of jams to pitch the Stanners past St. Anthony’s 3-1 to secure the school’s first crown since 2011. The last Molloy windmiller to win a state title game—Maria Palmeri—was also a four-year starter.
“They are a huge asset to the team,” Durso said about Zeni and Yule. “Their pitching was phenomenal. Honestly without them we wouldn’t be here.”
Molloy also used its bats to get to the state tournament. The team rallied to beat St. Francis Prep 7-6 in the regular-season tie-breaker game and rallied to beat Mary Louis in the diocesan semifinal 12-6. They knew they had to be good against two very good lineups, especially St. Anthony’s. Zeni and Yule did so by not putting too much pressure on themselves.
“We were going to blow it by anyone,” Yule said. “We aren’t those type of pitchers, but we knew if we moved it in and out and played our game that we could do it.”
It was only fitting that Yule and Zeni, who meant so much to the program during their tenure, would shine in the biggest games of their careers. They were the unquestioned leaders of a junior-heavy club. Zeni and Yule kept their teammates in line and were admittedly hard on them. In the end it paid off.
“We are captains and we push out teams really hard,” Zeni said. “It means a lot because it is out first time winning the states.”