MORICHES — Strikeouts don’t usually change the momentum of a game in favor of the team up to bat. However, that’s exactly what happened on Friday, as the Troy softball team put together a late rally in the NYSPHSAA Class A semifinals.
“I think in our hearts we all realized that we could do it,” said Troy senior Olivia DeCitise. “We just needed one moment to go our way.”
Trailing by one run entering the sixth inning at Moriches Sports Complex on Long Island, Katie Pryor doubled for Troy and moved to third on a passed ball. With two outs, Ava Salvaggio struck out, but a wild pitch allowed Salvaggio to advance to first and Pryor to score, tying the game.
The Flying Horses proceeded to score eight runs in the inning — all with two outs — and go on to defeat Section 5’s Webster Thomas 8-4 to reach their first-ever state-title game.
Troy (22-4) will face Section 4’s Maine-Endwell (23-2) in the championship game at 11 a.m. Saturday.
“The ball got by, and you’ve got to take advantage of that,” Pryor said. “Thankfully, we have the players on this team that we do, because we just kept picking each other up.”
“All the pressure went away, and our confidence just boosted so much,” DeCitise said.
In the bottom of the second, Webster Thomas took a 1-0 lead on a solo home run by Maddie Throumoulus.
Entering the sixth, Troy had runners on base in every inning, but had not been able to get any runs across.
“On the scoreboard, it looked like a slow start, but our hitters had really great approaches and were hitting the ball hard,” said Troy coach Sean Geisel. “Once we got that first run, we kept going and had a nice inning. Webster Thomas made some great plays early on, but our girls just stayed with it.”
After Pryor scored the tying run, Madison Schmidt reached on an error, putting runners on the corners. Gianna Barringer then hit a two-run double, which got by Webster Thomas’ center fielder after a diving attempt.
“Honestly, just keep running,” Barringer said. “After they both scored, seeing how excited my team was, it was amazing. It felt really good.”
“As soon as Gianna had that hit,” Pryor said, “we knew that we were back and ready to go.”
Vanessa Quinn reached on an error, and Barringer came in to score, giving Troy a 4-1 lead. The Flying Horses tacked on another run, taking advantage of two more errors, sending Olivia DeCitise to the plate with a 5-1 lead.
“We definitely benefited from some of those errors,” Pryor said. “We just had to keep putting the ball in play and moving forward.”
The UMass Lowell-commit DeCitise put the cherry on top of the inning for Troy, hitting an opposite-field, three-run home run, to give the Flying Horses took an 8-1 lead.
“We hit the ball hard the first four or five innings, until we finally broke through for eight,” said Geisel. “Obviously it’s discouraging when you’re not able to get those runs in, but for us to keep our heads in it and keep our approaches, that was huge for us.”
Webster Thomas, which was charged with four errors in the inning, responded with three runs in the bottom of the sixth, but DeCitise was able to escape the jam with an 8-4 lead.
The left-hander retired the side, in order, in the seventh. Over seven innings, DeCitise allowed six hits and four earned runs, with six strikeouts and one walk. She was 2 for 3 at the plate, including the three-run home run.
Barringer, Pryor, Salvaggio and Kaylee Kussler all doubled for Troy, while Salvaggio had an RBI and Barringer had two.
Throumoulus went 2 for 3 with three RBIs for Webster Thomas.
“We’re going to be ready and I’m excited to play my last game, in the state championship,” DeCitise said.
“It means everything,” Pryor said. “This is the first time Troy’s been in this spot in awhile. We came up short last year, and we’d love to end our season with a win.”
Troy has a history of advancing to the NYSPHSAA semifinals, but in 2013, 2014, 2016 and 2022, the Flying Horses were eliminated before reaching the championship game.
“We’re excited,” said Geisel, who has led the Troy softball program since 2017. “Think about it, there’s only two teams left in our class that can win a state championship and we’re one of them.”
“I’m excited, especially to have one more day, one more game with the team,” added Barringer. “It’s going to be really fun.”
Troy 000 008 0 — 8 7 0
Webster Thomas 010 003 0 — 4 6 4