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Photo by Joseph Staszewski
By Joseph Staszewski

Elizabeth Byrnes had to get control of her emotions because this wasn’t the time to lose them.

The Queens High School of Teaching ace, protecting a one-run lead, had just given up a lead-off single down the left field line. An outfield error put the runner on third base in the PSAL Class B softball semifinals.

“My heart was like going through my chest,” Byrnes said. “I just need to relax and hope.”

The junior proceeded to elevate the pressure. She got a strikeout and then induced a pop-up to second base for the second out. Byrnes got the next batter to fly to left field and watched as Megan Frary settled under it.

“I almost dropped,” Byrnes said.

Instead, she got to leap high in the air in celebration as the ball settled into Frary’s glove to end the pressure-backed seventh inning and give No. 12-seeded Queens HS of Teaching a thrilling 4-3 win over top-seed Robert H. Goddard at the College of Staten Island Sunday afternoon.

Goddard came from behind to win both regular season meetings between the division rivals. Byrnes didn’t let that happen again in the season’s most important game to date. She allowed just two earned runs on five hits while striking out seven.

“She showed a lot of maturity today,” Tigers Coach Rosemariette Carrasco said. “It says a lot to stay composed.”

The Tigers (14-5) return to the title game for the first time since winning the crown in 2007. Queens HS of Teaching was a Class A team last season and won just two games before moving down again. The Tigers face No. 7 Robert F. Kennedy in the final June 2 at St. John’s University.

They also did it with the help of Byrnes’ bat. She collected two hits and drove in three runs. Marisol Rodriguez singled in the top of the second and later scored on a wild pitch. Byrnes singled home two more in the third to make it 3-0.

Goddard (16-3) got two runs back in the bottom of the inning with a Victoria Picarella RBI double and an outfield error to close with in 5-2. Byrnes drove in a run with a single in the fifth, but a pass ball plated Nina Recchia in the bottom of the frame to pull Goddard back within 4-3.

Byrnes kept it there and kept Queens HS of Teaching’s title hopes alive.

“We knew we had the skill win,” Byrnes said. “We just had to get our heads in there and we did.”

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