“Insurance runs” – additional runs to keep the lead for the win – has been Fontbonne’s Varsity Softball Head Coach Frank Marinello’s mantra for his team this season. However, that mantra has not been easy to follow against the tough competition in the Brooklyn-Queens AA Division that has such close parity among its teams.
The late-inning comeback has characterized most of Fontbonne’s wins this season, while late inning rallies by its opponents have accounted for most of the team’s losses for a regular season record of 4-5. Starting the playoffs on the road at Cunningham Park in Queens, the Bonnies entered a double elimination playoff format against long-time rival St. Francis Prep as Fontbonne’s ace pitcher Bianca Marletta prepared to hurl her final games of her senior year.
St. Francis Prep 5 Fontbonne 4
The Terriers held a 1-0 lead up to the fifth inning until Samantha Marletta hit a double and stole third, and subsequently scored on her sister Bianca’s single to tie the game at 1-1, sending game into extra innings. In the top of the eighth inning, the Marlettas opened the frame to score the next run as Bianca tripled in her sister from second for the 2-1 go-ahead run. Emily Manti then followed with a two-run single to make the score 4-1.
Fontbonne’s three run advantage would eventually not hold up for the lead as the Terriers squeaked out four runs of their own in the bottom of the inning for the 5-4 win.
Fontbonne 5 Mary Lewis 2
Facing her possible final game as senior, Bianca Marletta dug down and put the team on her shoulders as Fontbonne entered the losers’ bracket for the playoffs against Mary Lewis, a team that the Bonnies had lost to twice during the regular season. Not only would Marletta control the game from the mound with 14 strikeouts, but she would also get those much-sought after “insurance runs” for her team with a three-run homer to help stave off elimination.
Manti, Gabby Casagrande and Nicole Fallon combined with a single apiece to give Fontbonne a 2-0 lead in the third inning, until the Bonnies added their “insurance runs” in the top of the sixth inning. With Fallon and Liz Tesoriero aboard at first and second on singles, Bianca Marletta sent the ball over the left field wall for a three-run homer to give the Bonnies a 5-0 lead to defend going into the bottom of the seventh inning.
Proving that they were just as tough as during the regular season, the Hilltoppers strung together three singles for two runs for a comeback attempt, until Marletta struck out the next two batters. Marletta’s final batter hit a weak dribbler back to the mound for the final out as Fontbonne advanced to the next round of the playoffs with the 5-2 win.