NEW YORK –Both the St. Joseph by-the-Sea and James Madison softball coaches downplayed the importance of Monday's game because it is a non-league game so early in the season, but anytime the defending CHSAA state champion takes on the defending PSAL City Champion it is a big deal.
This game lived up to its billing too as it was an exciting game that came down to the final innings that featured an excellent pitcher’s duel. Unfortunately for the Madison Lady Knights, they came out on the short end of this one as the St. Joseph by-the-Sea Vikings beat them 2-1 behind a dazzling performance by junior pitcher Alexa Tedeschi.
“This is the type of game we need to play to get ready for games in June,” St. Joseph by-the-Sea head coach Mike Ponsiglione said. “Teams like this, pitchers like Kayla we need to face that. They need to see quality teams, quality pitching.
“A game like this, I don’t care if we win or lose. I really don’t. If we’re going to win another banner these are the type of games we have to play.”
HOW THE GAME WAS WON: Things were looking good for Madison early as it had its ace, Kayla Hill, on the mound and it struck early with a run in the second inning.
That run came around when Samantha Rodriguez (2-for-3) leadoff the inning with a single to right, Jennie Hosty (0-for-3) reached on an error by the pitcher, and Breanna Depasquale (0-for-2) walked to load the bases. Danielle Mulle(0-for-3) then hit a drive to right field that was deep enough to score Rodriguez.
That was all the offense Madison would get though as St. Joseph’s Tedeschi was in fine form. Tedeschi finished with a complete game four-hitter as she struck out five and walked just one. Her counterpart, Hill, also pitched well getting the complete game, but allowed two runs on 10 hits while striking out three and walking just one.
Hill held a shutout through the first five innings, but St. Joseph was getting its hits and they eventually broke through in the top of the sixth. Jackie Kelly leadoff that inning with a single to right field and was brought out of the game for a pinch runner, Kristy Colangelo. Colangelo came around to score when Meghan Seaman smacked a triple deep to right field, barely missing an inside-the-park home run.
“Meghan got a pitch middle away and she was able to drive it,” Ponsiglione explained. “I was hoping she would hit the ball to the right side because I saw some opportunities there.”
Seaman herself scored to make it 2-1 on an infield single by Noelle Mulligan, who reached when Madison’s second baseman failed to cover first.
TURNING POINT: With the way that Hill was pitching for Madison it looked like St. Joseph’s lost its chance at winning this game when Maria Scopellito was caught stealing second on what was supposed to be a hit-and-run play, but the Lady Vikings eventually got another chance in the sixth inning.
The key to that entire inning was the way Seaman fought to stay alive in her at-bat. She fell behind early, but kept fouling pitches off until she finally got one she could work with and smashed it deep to right field. It was a good thing she hit the ball so hard because just one batter earlier Madison’s right fielder made a great running catch to rob Jackie Cautela of a hit.
PLAYER OF THE GAME: Tedeschi is not typically regarded as St. Joseph’s star pitcher, but she got the start because it plays rival Tottenville later on in the week and their coach was expected to be in attendance for scouting purposes. So Tedeschi got the start because they didn’t want to give too much away.
She was easily the star of this game though as she held the defending city champions to just one run and four hits. The lone run was unearned at that as Madison probably doesn’t score if she didn’t mishandle what should have been a routine grounder in the second.
“I couldn’t be more proud of her,” Ponsiglione said. “She won two city championships with the JV. She needed a game like this though. Not for me, but for herself to see that she could pitch against a team like this and beat them.”
QUOTE OF THE GAME: “I relax and know that we have great defense on the field," Tedeschi said. "When the ball gets put in play I don’t have to worry about where it goes or how far it goes, it always gets taken care of. As a pitcher it makes me much calmer. It’s easy to pitch that way.”
UP NEXT: St. Joseph takes on Bishop Kearney Tuesday. Madison is back in action on Wednesday when it plays New Utrecht.