Ask the Holy Child softball team what they want to accomplish this season and the response is immediate: win the Fairchester Athletic Association league title and the NYSAIS State championship. The Gryphons made serious headway toward the first of those goals at home April 16, when they defeated perennial FAA contenders Greenwich Academy 6-2.
“The win was huge for our team,” said junior shortstop Chloe Giordano. “Last year we lost to them in the seventh inning, so we knew they would be tough competition. It’s a great feeling to win against such a great team and this win is a big confidence booster for us.”
Giordano broke a scoreless tie in the bottom of the third inning by ripping a two-out home run to deep left centerfield. Sophomore Emily Corelli made it 2-0 in the fourth when she dropped a single into center.
Greenwich Academy was able to slither back within one run in the top of the fifth, but Giordano was there again to keep the visitors at bay. With two outs in the bottom of the frame, the junior blasted a shot to right that took a vicious hop past the deep patrolling fielder. It was the shortstop’s second consecutive homer, putting her on pace to break her single-season record of six.
“Chloe’s ability to step up to the plate and hit the ball hard nearly every time gives everyone on the team confidence,” said senior third basemen Alaina Cipollone, a captain. “Her bat is definitely something we all rely on for hits and runs. I am excited to see if she can break her home run record.”
After the Gators again pulled within one, Holy Child dropped the hammer in the bottom of the sixth. Junior Catherine O’Grady hit a two-run single as the Gryphons extended their lead to 6-2.
“Our kids knew the bats needed to be hot in the sixth,” said first year head coach Jen Cirillo. “We had no choice, so Cipollone told the team, ‘If you think it’s a good pitch, then be aggressive and hit it like you mean it.’”
While the hits kept coming for Holy Child – Giordano led with three and Molly Schauber and Lauren Manzino had two apiece – sophomore pitcher Kathleen Samuelson limited Greenwich Academy’s offense with a fastball and an offspeed pitch. The Gators could muster only four hits off the pitcher and struck out four times. Both Cirillo and Cipollone, who served as Holy Child’s ace the past three seasons, were impressed with Samuelson’s mental ability on the mound. Despite the magnitude of the contest in the FAA standings, it was just another game as far as the crafty sophomore was concerned.
The Gryphons improved to 3-0 with the win, and like their position on the road to an FAA title. A May 6 contest with King will likely determine who gets to wear the league crown.
“I love everything about our team,” said Giordano. “This is the second year all of us have been together and we have become a close-knit team. Alaina and Molly do a great job of keeping our team focused on game day and – behind their leadership – I think there is no limit for our team as long as we work hard in practice every day and play together.”