Clinton coach Rich Eaton told his players afterward that they were going to be the story of the PSAL Class A softball first round. The 21st-seeded Governors had just knocked off No. 12 McKee/Staten Island, 11-6, on Thursday in Staten Island.
Then the players found out No. 26 New Dorp had beaten No. 7 Manhattan Center and No. 25 Curtis defeated No. 8 Bronx Science.
“They were like, ‘Coach we weren’t even the biggest upset,’” Eaton said with a laugh.
That might be true, but Clinton (11-6) has a lot to be proud of. It was the only team in the first round to beat a squad from Staten Island, an accomplishment in itself.
The Governors will meet No. 5 Francis Lewis in the second round Monday afternoon, but anything more than a first-round victory will just be gravy, Eaton said. Clinton won two straight Bronx
A titles before this season, but lost essentially its entire core from those squads. This year’s group is mostly seniors, but almost none of them were regulars in their younger years.
“My girls feel like we’re playing with house money,” Eaton said.
They’re actually happy for another bus trip, although the one to Queens won’t be nearly as long as the one to Staten Island. It took the Governors almost two hours, Eaton said, but it was one of the best times they have had as a team all season on the school bus.
Senior starting pitcher Teresa Ventura – the team’s key, Eaton said – gave up six runs, but none of them were earned and she didn’t allow a single hit. Ventura did walk five and struck out four. Clinton had one of its best performances of the season behind her.
Claudia Clase and Gabriella DeLeon both drove in three runs and Niki Rodriguez had an RBI in the victory over Tech (9-9). Eaton knows his team will have to play just as good against Lewis, even though the Governors beat the Patriots earlier in the season. In that game, though, Lewis ace Tina DeLuca didn’t pitch.
She will, of course, be in the circle Monday and Eaton told his players that’s a positive thing. DeLuca doesn’t walk people, the coach explained, so everything will be around the strikezone and, in theory, easier to hit.
No matter what happens in the second round, though, the Governors are content. They finished in fourth place in what many perceived to be a weak division, yet here they are one of just 16 teams remaining.