Molloy squeezes by Fontbonne in semifinal thriller

After beating the Mary Louis Academy, third-seeded Fontbonne (10-4) advanced to the Brooklyn-Queens CHSAA varsity softball semifinal round to meet the first seeded Archbishop Molloy Stanners (12-2) at Kissena Park in Queens. 

Having lost their two regular season games to the Stanners, the Bonnies were well prepared to play last season’s Brooklyn-Queens champions that featured Mary Lou Piazza, Molloy’s Iona College-bound senior pitcher. 

In one of the best-played games of the season, the Bonnies managed to make an unprecedented late-game comeback against Piazza, only to lose the game to Molloy’s strong-hitting lineup in the final inning. 

The Bonnies struck first as Kate Kmiotek doubled and Josie Lamattina (3-for-4, four RBIs) singled Kmiotek home in the top of the second inning. To end the inning, second baseman Lamattina also displayed her defensive skills, making a diving catch to double up the runner at first to end the inning. In the third inning, Molloy tied the game at 1-1 after Diem Nenadich walked and Kimmy Piazza singled home her teammate.

The game remained tied up to the sixth inning when the Stanners’ Ava Hershkovitz singled and was driven home on Piazza’s infield single. Coming in as a substitute, Marissa Rocca made the most of her first plate appearance by doubling home two more runs to put Molloy ahead 4-1 by the end of the inning.

Down by three runs to start the seventh inning, with their last chance to score, Fontbonne coach Steve Caso challenged his team to make a comeback, saying, “If we can’t score three runs, we don’t deserve to be here.” The Bonnies responded to that challenge by sending the whole batting order to the plate to score five runs. The hot-hitting Lamattina starred again at the plate by clearing the bases with a three-run double to give Fontbonne a 6-4 lead going into the bottom of the seventh inning.

Fontbonne’s Josie Lamattina hit a three-run double to give the Bonnies a 6-4 lead in the top of the seventh inning against Molloy.
Photos by Jim Dolan

 With the possibility of going to the championship, an elated Fontbonne team took the field to defend their slim lead. Undaunted, the Stanners chipped away at Fontbonne’s lead as Hershkovitz singled home Jovanna Donaruma to cut the score to 6-5. After Molloy loaded the bases, Kmiotek then snagged a line drive for a double play at third base. Just needing one out to end the game, Marcella Polvere spoiled the Bonnies’ chances when she hit a soft flare to shallow right field just in front of a diving Kylie Mendez. With the score tied at 6-6 on Polvere’s single, Nicole Berinato singled the winning run home for Molloy’s 7-6 victory to advance to the championship round.

After the game, Fontbonne manager Pete McCarthy assembled his players and told them, “Every one of you gave us your maximum effort today. It was an amazing job. We took Molloy to the bottom of the seventh and we were a strike away from unseating the 2023 city champs. We are so proud of this team.”

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