By Kyle Adams
The Valley Central softball team had to scratch and claw for six innings, just to get one run on the board in the Section 9 semifinals against Monroe-Woodbury.
Unfortunately for the Vikings, by the time they scored their first run, the Crusaders already had nine.
“Brianna Roberts is a fantastic pitcher,” said Valley Central coach Katie Farrugia on Monroe-Woodbury’s ace.
“I think my girls went up there with confidence. They took the right pitches and were swinging at the right pitches, but you have to be able to take advantage of opportunities to score and our at-bats just weren’t translating into runs.”
The Crusaders advanced to the Section 9, Class AA Championship with an 11-1 win over the Vikings.
Senior outfielder and leadoff hitter, Jackie Rometo, got VC off to a good start, putting together a seven-pitch at-bat and eventually lined a single to right field. After Rometo, Roberts would strike out the side, avoiding any damage.
“Our coaches just kept telling us, ‘choke and poke.’ To choke up and just make contact and make them do the work,” Rometo said. “That’s what I wanted to do and thankfully I put together some good at-bats, but they’re a tough team over there and we did the best we could.”
The Crusaders went ahead in the bottom half of the first, as Danielle Ryan reached on an error and Kelsey O’Brien doubled her in.
Monroe-Woodbury tacked on four more in the third and four in the fourth, to take a 9-0 lead.
Highlighting the scoring was Roberts, who tripled to center and then scored on a sacrifice fly. O’Brien also continued her big day at the plate, knocking a solo home run off the left field foul pole.
In the game, Jackie Rometo went 3-for-4 and got her second hit of the game in the third inning, a blooper just out the reach of the Crusaders second-baseman, continuing on to second base, with nobody covering the bag.
“I played against her in travel a bunch. We sort of grew up together in travel, on different teams. It was always like, ‘Bri Roberts is pitching; we gotta hit her.’ She’s definitely a good pitcher and we just didn’t adjust enough to her,” Rometo said of her experience playing against Roberts. “If we’re going up there and taking huge hacks at the ball, against a pitcher like Bri, that’s not going to work. She throws hard and has movement on her pitches, so we had to adjust if we were going to have a chance.”
Rometo added another singled in the fifth, dunking one in front of the centerfielder, for her third hit of the game.
In the sixth inning, the Vikings finally got their run across. Brianna Robinson singled to left and then came around to score from first on a double to deep center, off the bat of Emilia Brundage.
“When the other team scores eleven runs, obviously one run isn’t going to cut it,” Farrugia said. “But they stayed strong, they never gave up and they did their best against a tough opponent.”
Isabella Mayo pitched a complete six innings in the loss. She gave up eleven runs – six earned – on 14 hits and two walks.
For Monroe-Woodbury, Roberts went the complete seven innings, allowing one run, which was earned, on six hits and two walks. She struck out nine and picked up the win.
On June 11, MW defeated Middletown 10-0 to win the Section 9 title, their first since 2001. The win completed a perfect, 18-0 season – a season that they did not give up more than two runs in a game all season long.
For the Vikings, they will lose four seniors, including Rometo, with their season officially coming to an end on Wednesday June 9.
“She’s a great leader, a great leadoff-hitter, a great center-fielder and we’ll miss her in our program,” Farrugia said of Rometo, who is heading to SUNY New Paltz to play softball. “Since eighth grade, she’s had over 100 career hits and that’s with missing last season and another with an injury, so she did it in three years.”
“I’m just excited to start something new,” Rometo added on going to New Paltz. “I’m excited to make new friends, see different players and to create a new bond with a new team.”