Preston didn’t get its anticipated CHSAA Archdiocesan title game rematch with champion St. Joseph by the Sea. Instead it got one heck of a consolation prize.
The Panthers rode a three-hitter and two RBI from Julianna Orrico to an impressive 5-0 victory over three-time defending Catholic State champion Kellenberg last Sunday at Fontbonne Hall’s Autism Awareness event in Brooklyn. Sea, which has beaten Preston in the last three Archdiocesan finals, told event director Frank Marinello it couldn’t make the 9 a.m. scheduled start.
“I definitely wanted to see [Sea], but I knew that Kellenbeg was another good team,” Orrico said. “I wasn’t that upset.
She knew from the moment she woke up this morning she ready for a big day, saying she was loose and ready to go. Catcher Bianca Mastropietro could tell also when she got to the field. Their instincts were correct. Oricco, popped the mitt, pounded the strike zone and gave up very few hard hit balls.
“In warms up could tell she was on today,” Mastropietro said.
Preston got all the run it needed in the bottom of the first inning. Mastropietro, who was red hot coming in, smashed a two-runner homer to left centerfield. It plated Orrico and gave the Panthers the jolt and confidence it needed.
“She’s been doing that the past three games,” Orrico said. “She’s been hitting a two-run homer every single time.”
The Panthers added two more runs in the third on an RBI single from Orrico that scored Brianna Rodriguez and a run-scoring double from Ashley Puig. Orrico, drove in her second run of the day with double to right center that made it 5-0 in the bottom of the fourth.
What Preston was most pleased with was it play in the field. It was sloppy in a win over Kennedy Catholic on Friday. Having senior Danielle Kibler back from a hand injury immediately improves the team’s defense. In order to compete with the city’s top teams the Panthers know they can’t beat themselves in the field.
“We did well, no errors,” Orrico said. “We stayed tight and we are looking for the post season.”
Preston was hoping to get an early taste of playoff level softball against St. Joseph by the Sea, a potential diocesan final opponent. It is more than happy with building momentum off beating the Firebirds.
“Everybody’s comfortable on where they are at right now and it’s time to roll.” Preston coach Frank Toscano said. “It’s late in the season and we got to keep on coming.”
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