THIELLS – After delivering a leadoff triple to open the bottom of the seventh inning, North Rockland senior Alicia Bertolino stood on third base yelling, “They don’t want it!” for two consecutive batters as Ursuline proceeded to intentionally walk her teammates, Amanda Schweitzer and Bella Chiorazzi, to load the bases.
Aside from putting a force play at every base, the Koalas didn’t want two of the Red Raiders’ best hitters beating them. They would rather take their chances against Kayla McDermott, the Manhattan-bound hurler who is known more for her arm than her bat.
They didn’t want Schweitzer or Chiorazzi; they wanted McDermott. What Ursuline didn’t know is that McDermott likely wanted the moment more than anyone.
With a line-drive single into left field, McDermott delivered Wednesday afternoon. It goes down as a 6-5 win in the books, but for McDermott, it was much more. “They’re not expecting anything from me (at-bat), so I want to show it that, ‘Don’t underestimate me,’ ” said McDermott, who finished the day 3 for 4 with two RBI.
McDermott’s hands were still trembling, a dual side-effect from the recent adrenaline rush and crisp air smacking against her face and limbs for the past two hours. It was an emotional win for North Rockland, as a team, but even more so for McDermott and Bertolino.
It was one year ago that Ursuline won at North Rockland, the Red Raiders losing in heartbreaking fashion. Bertolino dropped a routine pop-up that would’ve ended the game, and McDermott gave up the game-winning home run to Koalas slugger Angie Rizzi in the next at-bat.
Not only did North Rockland (2-0) find redemption as team with the win, but McDermott and Bertolino found it, individually, as well.
“We were this close to having it,” Bertolino said of last year’s season-opening loss. “I know, me, personally, after making that mistake, I knew we were that close and it made us hungrier for this season.”
“It hit hard,” she said of the loss.
Ursuline’s Maddy Crowley tied the score in the sixth with a two-out, two-run double, before the Koalas (1-1) threatened again in the seventh.
Ursuline sacrificed Taylor Russo to second base with one out, but it was a heads-up play — and a partial gamble — by Monmouth-bound shortstop Deangie Jimenez that halted the Koalas’ rally.
Ursuline leadoff hitter Kayla Castro hit a grounder to Jimenez, who threw out Russo after she broke for third base. “If she was going to run (to third), I knew I could get it to Vic because we have that good chemistry together,” Jimenez said, referring to third baseman Victoria Alonso.