After achieving an impressive 16-2 record to claim the Bronx/Westchester championship, Preston overcame a major obstacle beating Notre Dame in the first round of the playoffs.
“I have had these girls for my entire three year run as coach of this team,” said Preston’s Rachel Mazza, “and not once could they get past the first round game against Staten Island. The Notre Dame win was big. How much more can you ask for?”
Devyn Abbate pitched 5 innings, striking out 6 and giving up only one run, before Kaitlyn Brown finished it off in the 6th inning of a 12-1 victory.
Gold glove plays by Nicole Cavigliano and big hits by freshman Captain Jennifer Martin, Meghan Burke, Leanne Cerbone, Ashley Weiderhold, Laura Montalto, who crushed a booming double, and Lauren Barrett, who smashed a two-run triple, cemented the win.
Preston was the only non-Staten Island team to advance into the playoffs, but by the time the second round rolled along, the Panthers had lost their steam.
“The win over Notre Dame gave us a lot of confidence going into the second round, but it’s really hard to continue winning these games when you are not used to seeing that level of play on a consistent basis,” Mazza noted, pointing to Staten Island’s strong legacy in softball.
That legacy was continued with Moore Catholic’s Alyson Chiaramonte on her game, throwing a consistent 59 mph fastball, striking out 15 Preston batters, with only Meghan Burke scoring a run for the Panthers after a lead off double to start the game.
“It was hard to keep up with pitching like that,” said Mazza. “When we don’t see pitching like that all year, it’s hard to just go up to the plate and hit it.”
Abbate gave Preston all she had from the mound, but without run support, picked up the tough loss.
Despite being eliminated from the playoffs, Mazza, who says there is no way she cannot be proud of her team, believes the playoff run has given Preston the experience they need for next season.
“Now we know what to work on for next year,” she said. “We still have work to be done to be Archdiocese champs, but we have a game plan. It’s a goal we will definitely strive for next year.”
Mazza is planning to schedule non-league games against Staten Island teams next season, including during the school’s Easter tournament. In addition, the team is working on hiring College pitchers to work with Preston hitters next year.
“We knocked on Staten Island’s door this year,” said Mazza. “Next year, we have to knock it down.”