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Friday, June 3, 2011

Lalli (GOLD); Eastchester advances to Section 1 Finals

Janine Lalli scattered seven hits and struck out nine in pitching Eastchester into the Section 1 Class A final with a 1-0 win over Hen Hud Thursday. Xavier MascareƱas/The Journal News  

EASTCHESTER — The last time Eastchester reached a Section 1 championship game in softball was back in 2005 when it lost to Putnam Valley. It took six years, but the Eagles will finally get another shot at a title.

The second-seeded Eagles defeated No. 6 Hen Hud 1-0 in a Class A semifinal Thursday to set up a dream matchup in the final against top-seeded and defending state champ Pearl River.

Eastchester (21-1) takes on the Pirates on Saturday at North Rockland High School at 5:30 p.m.

The Eagles will look to avenge last year's 8-4 semifinal loss to Pearl River.

Eastchester last won a Section 1 title in 1995.

"Just to make it there, all our hard work, it's amazing," said Taylor DelGatto, whose RBI single in the bottom of the first accounted for the game's only run.

After that run came across, the game turned into a pitchers' duel between Janine Lalli and Sailors ace Julianna Gaspar.

Lalli pitched a seven-hitter, striking out nine while walking two walks. It wasn't up to her usual standard but she settled back in to a rhythm .

The Sailors had bases loaded and no one out in the top of the fourth and Lalli struck out the next three batters to get out of the jam.

"That did settle me down and got me back into a groove," Lalli said. "It was my worst game of sections but we got out of it and it was still a shutout so that's what matters."

That fourth inning was a turning point in the game.

"I felt like we could've done some damage," Sailors coach Kurt Thomas said. "She made three big strikeouts to get out of it. Tip my hat to her. What we needed to do was put the ball in play and make something happen. She was good."

Gaspar allowed one earned run on nine hits, walked four and struck out two.

"I knew my team was behind me and cheering me on," Gaspar said. "That really helped. I just had to throw strikes and that's what I did."

Anna Crowley was 3 for 3 for the Eagles in a game where the whipping winds made sure neither team had an extra-base hit.

"I just really wanted to hit the ball," Crowley said. "Sections are you have to hit or it doesn't work. I wanted to do whatever I could to help win."

Rachel Buckner went 2 for 4 for the Sailors (17-5).

Eastchester and Pearl River have played some epic games in sections in the past. The Eagles know what it will take to dethrone the three-time defending Section 1 champs.

"Confidence," Lalli said. "I think this is the best team that I've been on since I've been on varsity for five years. I know that we can do it. I've never felt that way before."

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