Getting the nod to pitch last Saturday’s decisive third game of the Nassau Class A softball championship series meant the world to Carey’s Dana Romano.
And after yielding five straight singles to Mepham in a heartbreaking walk-off defeat in Game 2 two days earlier, the senior righthander delivered in a big way. Romano blanked the fourth-seeded Lady Pirates over the final four innings as No. 2 Carey captured its second county title in five years and third all-time with a 6-2 victory at Mitchel Athletic Complex.
Sophomore Arianna Millan and freshman Destiny Nardello drove in two runs apiece and senior Marissa Nicoletti homered for the Lady Seahawks (15-7), who scored 18 runs in the series and will face Sayville or Mount Sinai in the Long Island Class A championship/Southeast Regional final this Friday at 3:30 p.m. at Hofstra.
“Losing the other day was really hard because we had it until the very end,” Romano said. “We wanted to go out and give it our all today because it meant everything. With the way we’ve been hitting, I knew we’d have a good chance if I pitched like I did in Game 1.”
Coach Anthony Turco didn’t decide on a starting pitcher for Game 3 until Friday evening after consulting with his staff following practice. He had the luxury of two outstanding choices, he said, as junior Jacqueline Schemmer earned four playoff wins leading up to the finals. “We felt it was imperative for Dana to get right back in the circle,” Turco said. “She has the heart. She’s one of our five senior leaders who exhumed confidence all season long. It wasn’t just her today. It was the entire team.”
Mepham (15-7), which rallied from a four-run deficit with two outs in the bottom of the sixth to take Game 2, 8-7, on senior Victoria Sculley’s RBI hit, saw its incredible postseason run fall just short of the first county crown in program history.
“We set goals at the beginning of the season and accomplished a lot,” said coach Brenda Dolan, who in her first year at the helm guided the Lady Pirates to five playoff wins including a semifinal series upset of top-seeded, defending champion MacArthur. “All 20 girls stuck together and worked hard,” she added. “I couldn’t be prouder of them. Carey had some big hits today that were game-changers. It was a great series.”
Carey led 1-0 on Nicoletti’s homer in the bottom of the first, and Romano retired the first six batters she faced before Mepham’s offense came alive. Sophomores Janna Giliberti and Stefanie Simone doubled and tripled in runs, respectively, as part of a four-hit top of the third for a 2-1 lead.
The Lady Seahawks answered quickly with three runs in the bottom of the frame. Senior Madeline Lafferty drew a leadoff walk, advanced to third on Nicoletti’s one-out single and scored on senior Francesca Cirone’s game-tying single. Millan followed with a two-run single to make it 4-2, and Romano and the defense did the rest.
Mepham had runners on first and second in the fourth when junior Catherine Hammer turned a nifty inning-ending double play from second base. Then in the fifth, with a pair of runners in scoring position, Cirone fielded a scoring grounder to first to end the threat. Junior Gianna Castogliolo dazzled at shortstop with seven assists and two putouts, and Cirone recorded the final out with a running grab in foul territory in front of Carey’s dugout.
“There’s no feeling like it,” Cirone said.