Long Island Class AA Final
Long Beach High School Girls Varsity Softball Team
Senior uses bat and arm to subdue Bay Shore 2-0
BY JASON MOLINET
June 6, 2007
Send in the Marines. That's exactly what happened when first baseman Ashley Passaro squeezed the final out in her glove and stepped on first base at Town of Brookhaven's Bellport Park.
The Long Beach Marines, a blur of blue and white, mobbed pitcher Melissa Donnelly in an emotional climax.
It was only fitting the team gravitated to Donnelly. The senior pitcher not only shut down Bay Shore for seven innings Tuesday, she also delivered at the plate. The result was a brilliant 2-0 win as Long Beach earned the program's second Long Island Class AA softball title and ended Bay Shore's two-year reign.
Long Beach coach Carmine Verde entered the day 1-4 in L.I. championship games, including a 4-2 loss to Bay Shore a year ago. This time, he made history. Not only did the Marines become only the third Nassau team in the last 19 seasons to win the largest classification, Verde rang up his 300th career win in the process.
"Against Bay Shore, I didn't count the win until it was over," said Verde, whose team advanced to the state Class AA semifinal at 9 a.m. Saturday in Binghamton.
Credit the Manhattan-bound Donnelly, a four-year starter and no stranger to big games. She mixed her curveball, screwball and riser to great effect as she scattered four hits, two walks and struck out four on 90 pitches.
"She threw a bit harder this year and finished us with a nice riser," Bay Shore coach Jim McGowan said. "That's a nice team."
Bay Shore (23-5), which is 10-2 in L.I. title games, stranded three runners at third and had a fourth called out on interference.
"Defense wins games and that's what we did," junior second baseman Kirsten Halfon said.
Long Beach (22-4) made the most of its opportunities. Marauders senior pitcher Erika Sullivan tossed a six-hitter and struck out five. But the Marines touched her for a pair of runs, one of them earned.
Donnelly got the Marines going in the top of the fourth with a one-out single. An attempted pickoff throw sailed into rightfield and Donnelly moved to third. Passaro drove her in one batter later with a sacrifice fly to center.
"It felt amazing to score first," said Donnelly, who struck again in the sixth with an RBI single to right, driving in Halfon to make it 2-0. "It's my senior year. To go further than I've ever gone before feels good."
Copyright 2007 Newsday Inc.