By Rob Abruzzese
Brooklyn Daily Eagle
The game was on the line.
St. Edmund Prep led 2-1 in the sixth inning, but it wasn't a comfortable lead as St. Savior had runners on second and third with just one out and could take the lead with base hit.
That’s when Meghan McGinn smashed a shot to shortstop. The ball was hit so hard that St. Edmund senior Kellie O’Neill didn’t think the runner on third would be going, but she made the right play and checked third before she threw to first. When she did that, she was surprised to see Natalie Gil headed home.
“I was honestly surprised,” O’Neill said. “I just thought I was checking third and the next thing I know, she’s going home. I knew I had to make a good throw to get her and it was right there. I didn’t realize it was such a big play until everyone started cheering for me.”
That throw preserved the lead and pumped up St. Edmunds as the Eagles proceeded to come out next inning and scored three runs on three hits to break the game open en route to a 5-2 victory over St. Savior. The Eagles have now won back-to-back Catholic High School Athletic League Diocesan A championships.
“That play was a huge moral boost, huge,” said St. Edmunds coach Rowena Motylewski. “If that run scores it would have deflated everything, but instead she makes the play and it gives us the momentum.”
O’Neill took that momentum into her at bat as she lead off the bottom of the sixth inning. Despite leading 2-1 at the time, the Eagles were still without a hit, but O’Neill dropped a single into left field to get things started. Then she stole second and moved to third on a wild pitch. It pumped the team up as Stephanie Samir walked and then Nicole Quintana crushed a double to left field to make it 4-1. Angelica Fox picked up an infield hit to add another insurance run.
“Kelly made a great play and then we brought that energy into the next at bat and it’s magic,” Quintana said. “Then all of a sudden one hit turns into two and that turns into a few runs.”
The lead wouldn’t have been possible without the strong pitching of Kayla Maiolo. She allowed just two runs to score on on eight hits, no walks and 11 strikeouts. It was her third time facing St. Savior this season and she explained how facing them so many times made her more comfortable facing their lineup.
“Sometimes it helps when you get to see another team so much because then I know how to work to each hitter. It makes my job so much easier when I know how to pitch to certain batters and which ones to avoid all together. It definitely made it easier for me out there.”
It wasn’t long ago when the St. Edmund Prep Eagles were in the B division, just three years ago, but since moving up they have had great success and have now won back-to-back championships and had a perfect 12-0 regular season record this season. Motylewski credits the girls’ work ethic.
“I think it's a testament to their worth ethic. They are really determined not to give up. They come out here to practice and they're really here to work hard and to make themselves better. I don’t think it’s possible to go from the B division three years ago to back-to-back championships unless they’re really determined.”
As for a potential jump to the AA division, Motylewski thinks that they are ready if the league allowed them to move up again. “We’re only losing three girls so if the league is OK with it then I think we’d be able to make that jump again.”