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Monday, June 6, 2011

Class A softball: Pearl River edges Eastchester for sectional title four-peat

THIELLS — Four years ago, Katie O'Flynn (GOLD Alumni), Gemma Mahoney (Hurricanes Alumni), Jamie DeGennaro (18U) and Kaity Goldrick (Hurricanes Alumni) sat in the back of the Pearl River bus fresh off their first Section 1 championship victory. Holding on to the championship plaque, they had a vision of a four-peat in the making.

After the top-seeded Pirates eked out a 2-1, extra-inning win over second-seeded Eastchester for the Class A title on Saturday, the four seniors had accomplished what they set out to do.

"This was our goal since we were in ninth grade," O'Flynn said. "We sat there telling coach (Mike) Carlacci that we were going to do it, and he didn't believe us. He laughed at us and said to prove it, and we proved it to him and everyone else — and especially to ourselves."

With the score tied 1-1 in the bottom of the eighth inning, Mahoney delivered on the promise as she slapped a single to left field that scored Amanda Hartigan (18U Black) from second for the walk-off win at North Rockland High School.

"When I got up, I knew all I had to do was move her over," Mahoney said. "So when I got up, I was like, 'I'm going to get a hit right now. I'm going to get a hit.' I literally was like I see it and envision it going through that spot directly.

"I didn't expect her to go home, but it was just icing on the cake that she scored. I actually didn't even realize that it was the winning run until all my teammates ran onto the field."

With O'Flynn going head-to-head in the circle against Eastchester's Janine Lalli (GOLD) — a teammate from her travel team, the Hudson Valley Hurricanes — everyone knew it was going to be a low-scoring game as two of the top pitchers in Section 1 battled.

O'Flynn allowed just four hits and struck out six, while Lalli gave up five hits and struck out eight.

"There were a lot of infield balls and grounders, and our defense was great," O'Flynn said. "That was the key to the win — not me. It was all the defense."

Lalli didn't allow a hit until the fifth inning, and O'Flynn had five straight 1-2-3 innings at one point during the game.

"If we play that team 10 times, we would probably finish 5-5," Carlacci said. "We knew that going in, so our philosophy was to just find a way to win. We knew it was go to be a game where we couldn't just out-power them."

Down to their last two outs in the top of the seventh, Eastchester rallied to tie the score on a bloop single by Taylor DelGatto that scored Lalli.

"Katie was throwing really well, and they got those three hits in the seventh, but she was awesome all day," Carlacci said.

"It was just a mental game today," O'Flynn said. "It was bound to happen where they broke through at one point. We both had the same physical abilities, so it was whoever messed up first and made the play first."

Pearl River advances to the state regionals and will face Port Jervis of Section 9 at Minisink Valley at 3 p.m. on Monday.

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