The Fieldston softball team knew it still had plenty of talent despite losing six seniors from consecutive championship squads. It just needed to reestablish its personality if it was going to get to the top of again.
“We had to find that chemistry,” Fieldston coach Stefanie Gozdziewski said. “It was a long haul. A lot of quiet kids and just encourage them to be silly.”
The personalities eventually came out and familiar success followed. There was plenty of team singing, dancing and chanting after the second-seeded Eagles beat No. 1 Poly Prep for their third straight NYSAISAA crown at Manhattanville on May 20.
“We had a lot of team traditions we had to teach to the new kids,” Fieldston senior centerfielder Alexa Mendel said. “We dance to music before every game. We had a lot of cheers to teach them. That was a huge part of our success.”
It was an early season loss to Poly in Bay Ridge that finally brought the team together. The players sensed the energy around the club wasn’t the same as in past years and worked even harder to bring things together. Fieldston didn’t lose again.
“People feel like they are part of a team,” Mendel said.
The Eagles (18-1) and ace Temma Levis hung together and stayed calm as Poly Prep attempted to rally back from a 5-1 deficit in the final three innings. The junior limited the damage, allowing two runs in the fifth and just one in the seventh after surrounding a lead off single. Levis scattered six hits, struck out eight and did not walk a batter.
“It just gives us an air of confidence knowing that she is on the mound,” Gozdziewski said. She is always so steadied and in control.”
The Eagles felt it was import to get ahead of Poly (16-4) early. They got on the board in the first inning on an RBI single from Savannah Stern that scored Phoebe May, who has two hits and two runs scored.
Poly got even in the second before Fieldston grabbed control of the game with a three-run third. Mendel, who was 3-for-4 with two runs, delivered an RBI single. Jane Leff followed by blastng a two-run double to make it 4-1. West Duchovny was 2-for-4 with two runs scored.
“That was really important,” said Levis of the early lead. “It was our first time playing in the championship as the away team. That was one of our focus points, getting ahead early.”
This Eagles group, which features nine underclassmen, takes plenty of pride in continuing the program’s championship success and propensity to have a ball while doing it.
“It definitely feels like we picked up where we left off,” Levis said. “We were ready.”