THIELLS, N.Y.— Top-seeded Lakeland and No. 2 Pearl River played in the Section 1 Class A title game on May 28 at North Rockland High School and those who attended got their money’s worth.
Trailing 1-0 in the bottom of the seventh, Lakeland’s Olivia Knopf led off and singled to break-up Emily Turilli’s no hitter.
The Hornets eventually tied the game in that inning on a sacrifice fly to right field by Claire Fon, driving in pinch-runner Amanda DiClerico, but Pearl River won the game with a run in the ninth to take the crown 2-1 to win its third straight Class A title.
While the finish to the season was heartbreaking for Lakeland, it could not take away from the incredible 22-2 campaign that it had.
Lakeland junior Colleen Walsh, who pitched valiantly against the Pirates, said that being part of this season meant everything to her.
“My team has worked so hard this season, both individually and as a team,” Walsh said. “We have always picked each other up and are very close on and off the field. I feel that we improved a lot and have so much to be proud of. I’m thankful to have been a part of an amazing team.”
Lakeland earned a trip to the title game when it hosted and defeated No. 5 Ursuline 6-0 on May 25 in the semifinals.
Walsh was spectacular, hurling a complete-game two-hitter, striking out eight and walking none against Ursuline.
“I was able to pitch so well against Ursuline because I was so motivated,” Walsh said. “We have gotten so far already, and I wasn’t ready to stop. Not only was my velocity high, but my locations were good and Amber Badillo did an amazing job framing pitches for me.”
What made the win extra special for Walsh, was that it was a game that saw her record her 50th win and 500th strikeout in her varsity career, one that began when she was in eighth grade.
Walsh said a big part of the credit for those milestones goes to Badillo.
“I didn’t even know this was my 50th win and 500th strikeout, but once I found out after the game it made the win even better,” Walsh said. “I know I couldn’t have done any of it without my catcher, Amber, who works her butt off back there and deserves credit for my success as well.”
Lakeland’s Sarah Fritz (2 for 3) said Walsh is simply an amazing pitcher who knows the game very well.
“She is always composed on the mound and knows what her job is,” Fritz said. “She knows how to play the game. She always pitches amazing.”
Walsh also helped her own cause at the plate with three hits.
“I had a good day at the bat because I wanted to not only help myself but my team,” Walsh said. “My team did a great job getting on base and allowing me to contribute to rallies. I was waiting for my pitch and was focusing on hitting a line drive.”
Leading 1-0 entering the sixth, the Hornets broke the game open with five runs, four of them coming on a grand slam by Fritz.
“Claire Fon and coach [Steve] Fallo both told me to look for first pitch fastball,” Fritz said. “I was expecting it, so I swung as hard as I could. When I hit it, I honestly wasn’t expecting it to be a grand slam. But when I found out it was I was so excited. I knew that my team needed the insurance runs.”
The blast eased the tension as the Hornets entered the final inning.
“I was on second base when Sarah hit that home run in center field, so I could easily see it was clearing the fence,” Walsh said. “The feelings of excitement, relief and happiness all came about me. It’s a great feeling knowing your team always has your back.”
Cameron Lischinsky homered and Krista Verrino, Jenna Houlahan and Fon all singled for the Hornets.