By Bill Landon
Trailing 6-1 in the bottom of the seventh inning with two outs, the No. 6-seeded Kings Park softball team rallied to score two runs to close the gap against visiting No. 11 Longwood, but the Kingsmen’s efforts were not enough, as the team fell 6-3 in the opening round of the Class AA playoffs Monday.
Longwood never trailed, scoring the first run in the opening inning. With a runner in scoring position though, Kings Park sophomore pitcher Cassandra Cancemi fanned the batter to retire the side.
Kings Park tied the game in the bottom of the second when junior first baseman Gianna Cancemi smacked the ball deep to right field for a stand-up double, driving in senior catcher Ariana Ambrosio, but that was all the team could do until late in the game.
Longwood knocked on the door in the top of the fourth, loading the bases with two outs, and if Cancemi felt the pressure on the mound, she didn’t show it as she calmly struck out the batter to end the inning.
In the top of the fifth, senior second baseman Cheyenne Giarraputo scooped the ball out of the dirt to get the force at the bag, and helped the team capitalize on the only double play of the game, when she threw the ball to first at a waiting Cancemi, to retire the side.
Kings Park sophomore Amanda DeLaura took over on the mound to start the sixth inning, and Longwood scored two runs early to jump out to a 3-1 lead, and scored its fourth on a passed ball at home plate.
The Lions looked to put the game away, and crossed the plate two more times to take a 6-1 advantage into the bottom of the seventh.
With their backs against the wall in the bottom of the seventh with two outs, Kings Park junior outfielder Kristen Plant wouldn’t let her team go down quietly, and drove in a run with a shot to right center, to pull within four.
Kings Park junior third baseman Taryn McGinley’s bat spoke next with a long shot that scored Plant, to close the gap 6-3.
“It was tough when we got the two outs in our last at bat, but we were hopeful that we could rally back,” Giarraputo said. “We’ve done it before this season.”
With a final smack of the bat, Kings Park hit one into shallow right field, where a charging outfielder was able to track it down to end the game, and Kings Park’s season.
“We rallied back there late and that’s what we’ve done all season — we’d come back from a deficit and we usually clinched it,” Kings Park head coach Kim McGinley said. “But you can’t have four errors in the field and expect to win the game.”
Kings Park concluded its season with a 12-6 record in League III play, and despite graduating five seniors, will return eight juniors and two sophomores to the roster next season, with the hope of avenging the early postseason loss.
“In the bottom of the seventh I wasn’t worried about winning as much as playing as hard as we could,” Ambrosio said. “We gave it our best, and left it all out on the field today.”