February 25, 2011
Lawrenceville Softball 2010 State Prep A Champions
In what had to be the most remarkable game in the history of the NJISAA State Softball Tournament, Lawrenceville came from behind to score a 5-4, extra inning win over Hun and capture the Prep “A” title. Lawrenceville's Head Coach John Schiel runs Directs the NIKE Softball Camp at the Lawrenceville School.
It would not be enough to say that the Big Red came back from the dead. It was more like they dug through six feet of dirt with a teaspoon after being buried alive and left for dead by a Hun team, that for five innings at least, looked like an invincible juggernaut.
“What you saw today was kids rallying and believing in themselves,” said Big Red coach John Schiel. “And just in time. It was an amazing comeback. I told them that anytime for the rest of their lives when they face a situation that seems impossible they should just think about today.”
Hun looked like the 1927 Yankees in the first two innings of the state final, rattling Lawrenceville starter Ashley Perritt’s cage with four runs on seven hits, each one more blistering than the one before it.
To make Lawrenceville’s situation seem even more hopeless, Hun starter Megan Hayes was just as overwhelming as the Raider hitters, retiring the first 10 batters in order. But when Taylor Landis-Miller lashed a deep single to left center to drive in two runs and give Hun a 4-0 lead, Schiel made a move that would stop the bleeding and set the stage for the Big Red comeback.
He replaced Perritt with Alexa Lesenskyj and over the next six innings Lesenkyj delivered, allowing only three infield hits and no runs.
That allowed Lawrenceville, which had only a single hit through the first five innings, to start chipping away at the Hun lead in the sixth. It was number nine hitter Emily Schiel and the battered Perritt who began the rally, banging out back-to-back singles to start the sixth.
An RBI ground out by Jonelle McDowell and a run scoring double by Rebecca Hu brought the Big Red closer at 4-2.
While Lesenskyj continued to stymie the Raiders hitters, Lawrenceville tied it in the bottom of the seventh. Arielle Doering opened the inning with a double and Lesenskyj followed with a single, moving to second on a throw attempting to cut down Doering at third.
It was then that Hun coach Kathy Quirk made a pitching change of her own, relieving Hayes with Blair Sirokman. She picked up a quick strikeout but couldn’t keep Schiel from coming up big again, as she stroked another single to right to bring home Doering.
A play later, Christine Natoli, who was running for Lesenskyj, made an aggressive play on Perritt’s one-hopper back to the pitcher. In spite of a long check from Sirokman, Natoli raced home and wound up scoring uncontested when the throw to first went awry.
An inning later Lesenskyj delivered a walk-off RBI single to lock up the improbable state championship.
There was a certain vindication in the way Lesenskyj stepped in to stem the tide as the Big Red hurler had been hit hard in a 10-3 loss to Blair in the MAPL semifinal on Saturday. And there was irony in the fact that she relieved Perritt, who had stepped in to shut Blair down in the State Prep Semifinal on Tuesday.
But Lesenskyj gave all the credit to the other half of the Big Red battery.
“Our catcher (Liza Keller) did a great job today,” she said. “She called the entire game. She really takes control back there and doesn’t get a lot of credit.”
“I was off today,” admitted starter Peritt. “That’s why it helps to have eight other players out there. They were amazing today. This is a team known for breakthroughs. It was just a matter of when it would come. But I guess I’ve got to thank (Alexa) for cleaning up my mess.”