Fieldston knew a second victory over Poly Prep in a span of four days wouldn’t be as easy as it first. The Eagles pounded the Blue Devils by 16 runs last Friday to claim the Ivy League regular season softball title, but it was a game uncharacteristic of usually tight contests the teams usually play.
“I think we got away with one on Friday, it’s usually much closer.” Fieldston coach Stefanie Gozdziewski said.
The next meeting was more like it.
This time Fieldston, the reigning NYSAISAA champions, had to gut out a 3–1 victory over host Poly Prep on May 10 behind a dominant pitching performance from Eagles ace Temma Levis. He allowed just two hits and hit a batter for the only base runners of the game, while striking out eight. Gozdziewski has seen the big games bring out the best in Levis, who was saying “I live for this” as she went to close out the game in the seventh inning.
“It hypes her up a lot more to be playing better competition,” the coach said.
Leivs had to change her approach from the first game. That one she dominated with a changeup, but the pitch wasn’t working on this day. Levis turned to another to get the job done.
“I had to use my curveball a lot more this game,” Levis said. “It getting ahead of batters really.”
Fieldston batters didn’t have problems getting runners on base again Poly Prep ace Ciara Schirripa, collecting 10 hits. The Eagles (14-1) struggled to turn them into runs as the senior wiggled out of jams after jam as they left 12 runners on base.
“We went in [last game] knowing we had to play our hardest,” junior shortstop Savannah Stern said. “I this this time maybe we got relaxed and our bats got a little bit sleepy.”
It was Stern who drove in the first run with a RBI double to left field in the bottom of the first inning that scored Levis to make it 1-0. Fieldston picked up another in the second thanks to a RBI groundout by Caroline Elisa. Poly (10-6) got on the board in the third thanks to the only two hits Levis would allow. A double to left by Carly Corr plated Amanda Grossman, but the Eagles got a run back when Carolyn Susman came home on an errant throw in the top of the fourth to provide the final margin Kat Gilroy and Levis were both 2-for-3 with a walk and Alexa Mendel was 2-for-4 with a double for the Eagles.
“I think that’s one thing that is really special about this team, we always find a way to pull through,” Stern said. “We always keep each others energy up.”
The victory was good test of toughness with the playoffs starting this weekend. Fieldston lost just three starters from last years club, so it features plenty of playoff experience. It’s only loss to is to Holy Child. Gozdziewski believes her team has embraced the role of being the hunted and being the reigning champions.
“They like defending something, having pride in their win from last year,” Gozdziewski said. “They are riding high right now. Hopefully we can continue that.”