Kerri Shapiro celebrated her 18th birthday in grand fashion with some of her closest friends last Friday, helping East Meadow repeat as Long Island Class AA softball champions with a 3-2 victory over Half Hollow Hills West at Mitchel Athletic Complex.
Shapiro, who opened the scoring with a two-run double in the bottom of the third inning, took a shutout into the seventh and was one out away from retiring the side in order when the Lady Colts rallied with two runs. The tying run was in scoring position when Shapiro got Alex Parkas on a hard grounder to Claire Travis at shortstop to end it.
“It feels amazing,” said Shapiro, a senior who last season blanked Longwood to lead the Lady Jets to their first-ever L.I. title. “I had my teammates behind me all day,” she added. “I couldn’t have hoped for a better birthday present than celebrating a Long Island championship with them.”
It looked like Shapiro was going to retire Hills West in order for the fourth time to put the icing on the cake, but after a flyout to center and a line drive back to the circle, Renee Pino kept the Lady Colts alive with a single. Following a walk, Nicole Graber cracked a two-run double to left to put the celebration on hold.
“It got a little intense,” East Meadow coach Stew Fritz said. “When you get to this stage, nothing comes easy. Oceanside gave us all they had in the county finals, and Hills West did the same today. I’m just proud of how our girls responded.”
Travis, a senior, belted a solo homer over the fence in left-center in the bottom of the sixth to provide a crucial insurance run. “At the time we didn’t know we were going to need it, but it turns out we did,” Fritz said of his team’s third run.
The Lady Jets (19-2) advance to the New York State championship tournament this Saturday in South Glens Falls where they’ll face Clarence (Section VI) in a semifinal game at 9 a.m. The other semifinal features Liverpool (Section III) and Valley Central (Section 9), with the title game set for 1:30 p.m.