Julianna Orrico didn’t want to jinx it while letting her mind consider the possibilities as she stepped to the plate with the bases loaded. A grand slam, wouldn’t that be something?
“I thought about it, but you can’t think about it,” Orrico said.
As the ball flew of her bat to left field, the Preston senior knew she had done just that. She took time to soak in the moment as ball landed 225 feet away over the far fence and into the parking lot at Moore Catholic in the bottom of the sixth inning.
“You felt the pop,” Orrico said. “It went straight up. You are not suppose to do this, but I just stared at it the whole way.”
The blast put an exclamation point on Preston’s 8-2 victory over the host Mavericks in the CHSAA Archdiocesan softball semifinals on May 17. Orrico, who was 2-for-4 with three runs scored and four RBI, was mobbed by her screaming teammates in the plate. She also allowed two runs on nine hits and struck out five for the win in the circle to advance the Panthers to its third straight Archdiocesan championship game.
“She’s had that kind of career,” Preston coach Frank Toscano said. “What Julianna has done in her four years here is put Preston on the map out on Staten Island. We never really advanced past the first [or second] round until this group.”
Orrico wouldn’t of had a chance for her grand slam and an 8–1 Preston lead without Brianna Rodriguez walking after a 12-pitch at back to load the bases. It was part of a big day for the Panthers centerfielder.
She was 2-for-3 with two runs scored and threw out a runner at home with Preston up 1-0 in the top of the second inning. The perfect throw to the plate after a single by Kristen Blanchard just got Moore’s Taylor Wittick, who was trying to score from second base.
“I got a good jump on it,” Rodriguez said. “I was going to dive for it, but something just stopped me. My blood was pumping.”
The Panthers (14-2) kept adding on runs to a Bianca Mastropietro RBI double in the opening frame. Danielle Kibler walked with the bases loaded to force in a run and a sac fly from Ashley Puig, who had two hits, made it 3-0 after two innings.
“Our girls hit,” Toscan said. “We are seven deep in the lineup.”
Moore (15-7-1) finally got on the board in the fourth thanks to an sack fly by Sophia Marzo to make it 3-1. Orrico was able to limited the damage the with help of Danielle Trani being throw out at third trying to take the extra base on the sac fly.
Preston’s Marissa Denner walked plate an insurance run in the bottom of the sixth before Orrico’s grand slam. The victory earned the Panthers a return date with St. Joseph by the Sea, which beat them in the last three diocesan title games. The two teams were supposed to meet in late April, but Sea asked for a later game at an Autism Awareness event in Brooklyn.
“This is our time,” Orrico said. “It’s time we meet. Time we do everything we need to do it and leave it on the field.”