The No.1 Pilgrim Lady Patriots were downed 4-2 by the No. 3 Coventry Oakers on Saturday during the 2019 Softball Division I Losers-Bracket Final.
Coventry senior Sara Steinkamp earned the game-winning hit during the bottom of the eighth inning when she broke a 2-2 tie with a 2-run single, which scored Zoe Adams and Olivia Saccoccio.
Pilgrim trailed for much of the contest before rallying late and forcing the extra inning.
“It was not the way I wanted it to end,” Pilgrim manager Paul Kennedy said. “Close all the way, 1-0, 2-0, and then we tied it dramatically in the last inning.”
“We had a chance there in the bottom of the seventh,” Kennedy added. “We had the bases loaded, no outs with the winning run at second and we just didn’t get it down ... a couple of stops short of where we wanted this to end, but it doesn’t take away from the season we had or the individuals I have out there. But a tough loss right now.”
Cat Fallon, Pilgrim’s senior ace, pitched a complete-game and struck out six.
“She’s pitched a lot lately,” Kennedy said. “She pitched yesterday. She pitched today. And today went extra innings. So, her arm is tired. But she gave us everything she had today and she gave us everything she had this year and all four years we’ve been together. She’s a heck of a competitor.”
On the other side, Samantha Bergantino tossed six innings for Coventry and punched out eight.
The Oakers drew a 1-0 lead in the top of the second when with two outs and the bases juiced, Jessica Mahoney, a senior, laid down a safety squeeze, which scored Saccoccio from third.
Then, in the fourth frame, Coventry added to its edge.
First, Saccoccio reached base via a one-out triple to left.
Next, Garabedian used a sacrifice bunt and scored Saccoccio from third, which extended the Coventry cushion to 2-0.
In the bottom of the sixth, Pilgrim pulled within 2-1 when with one out, junior catcher Dyonna Rodas crushed a solo home run over the left field wall.
“She had a heck of a day,” Kennedy said. “She hit that ball real well. It got us going. Then, we came out real hard in the bottom of the seventh. Enough at the time, but not enough overall.”
In the seventh, Pilgrim’s Jill Ricci led off with a walk, and that is when Coventry when to its bullpen to get junior reliever Sierra Ricci.
Megan Cooney and Sydni Bigelli greeted Ricci with back-to-back bunt singles and loaded the bases with none out.
After that, Ricci got Amelia Murphy to pop out for the first out.
Then, Madison D’Amato, a sophomore second baseman, launched a sacrifice fly to deep right and scored pinch runner Skyla Contarino from third, which knotted the game at 2.
However, with two down and runners at the corners, Rodas grounded out to the third baseman Alessandra Woods for the final out.
In the top of the eighth, Coventry’s Woods hit a one-out single to left.
Diana Petrarca, a senior, followed that with a double and put runners at second and third.
Next, Hannah Hawley earned a walk and loaded the bases.
Lastly, Steinkamp ripped a two-run single through the middle, which gave the Oakers the 4-2 advantage.
In the bottom of the inning, Ricci suffered just one hiccup when she hit Fallon with a pitch. Other than that, the junior earned two fly outs and a strikeout and sealed the deal.
In the fall, Pilgrim’s Fallon will move on to the collegiate level where she will continue playing Division I softball at the University of Maine for the Black Bears.
While the star pitcher is excited to move on, she’ll always remember the good times she had playing for Coach Kennedy at both Pilgrim and Vets.
“Playing for Coach Kennedy was an absolute pleasure,” Fallon said. “I learned so much and became a better player from his coaching. My team this year was incredible and extremely positive. It didn’t end the way we wanted it to, but when I look back on our season, all I can think of is the crazy but fulfilling experiences I had with my teammates. My team and Coach Kennedy have impacted my life in a way I’ll never forget.”