Preston falls in semifinals

Preston could not convert on its chances to score and lost to Moore Catholic in the CHSAA Archdiocesan semifinals. Photo by Baiju Thakkar/Five Bor Sports

Costly errors and the lack of timely hits haven’t been an issue for Preston seemingly the entire season and certainly not the last few weeks. Unfortunately for the Panthers, both were issues against Moore Catholic. They managed just two hits, none of which came during their chances with runners in scoring position and a costly error in the third opened the door for two Maverick runs.

“I think there was like six games in a row that we haven’t made an error and then it just reared its ugly head,” Preston coach Rachel Mazza said.

Her team couldn’t overcome the early deficit and lost, 4-1, to Moore Catholic in the CHSAA Archdiocesan softball semifinals at St. Joseph by the Sea on Staten Island Thursday. It is the second straight season Preston lost to Moore in this round.

In the third innings, third baseman Megan Burke, trying to get an out at second, threw the ball into center field to put runners on second and third with one out. A bunt up the third-base line that pitcher Devyn Abbate fielded late and threw to first plated the first run and a wild pitch brought home another to make to make it 3-1 Moore (14-3).

“We definitely didn’t play the way we normally play today,” sophomore Laura Montalto said. “We basically had a season with no errors and the one game has to be this one and we had errors. It’s a tough loss, definitely.”

Preston (13-1) had a chance to get on the board first when Danielle Sedia reached on an error and was bunted to second by Sara Cavigliano. Montalto and Nicole Cavigliano, Sara’s sister, both grounded out to end the inning. The Panthers scored their lone run in the second when Megan Burke walked, tried to steal second and scored when catcher Krissa Sagona’s throw sailed into centerfield to make it 1-1.

“Ugh,” Mazza said when asked about the first inning. “Not only take the lead first, it’s a whole different mindset. It’s ABC softball. You got to get that run in.”

It was a trend that continued.

In the fifth, trailing 4-1, Jessica Kerrigan led off with a single and was bunted over to second, but Moore starter Emily Horihan got a strikeout and fly out to keep her from scoring. Preston, which did not get many hard-hit balls against the junior, also had first and second with one out in the seventh and was again kept of the board.

“Usually we have one big hit in the game that starts everything off and we didn’t really have that today,” Abbate said.

The senior windmiller, who battled an upper respiratory illness that made it tough to breathe through her nose the last few days, was feeling better. She was effective on the mound but not dominant, struggling to find control of her changeup. She allowed two earned runs on seven hits, while striking out just two over five innings. Kaitlyn Brown pitched two scoreless innings of relief.

“A lot of times they are just really good hitters,” Abbate said. “[On] most of [the big hits the pitches] were either inside or outside. They are just good hitters.”

The loss ends a season where Preston again won the CHSAA Bronx/Westchester title and finished undefeated in league for the first time ever.

“We definitely had one of the best years,” Montalto said. “It’s just going to hard seeing all the seniors and stuff go. It doesn’t feel real that it’s the end.”

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