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St. Francis Prep couldn’t have asked for a better start to a year where it believes it can change its recent fortunes in CHSAA Brooklyn/Queens softball.
The Terriers began their league season with a come-from-behind 6-3 win over rival and four-time defending champion Archbishop Molloy at Cunningham Park March 27. St. Francis Prep, which was swept in the finals by the Stanners each year during their reign, used a three-run top of the sixth inning to retake the lead for good.
“It’s the best feeling,” catcher and cleanup hitter Kelly Licul said. “The challenge is always for us to [play] Molloy. It feels good that our opener is against them and we won.”
The sophomore was a big reason why, collecting four hits, driving in a run and scoring one. Her lead-off double to left centerfield gap got the top of the sixth started. She is the anchor to a lineup that returned senior shortstop and leadoff hitter Danielle Cervasio, classmate Tara O’Rourke, Briana Emanuele, Jessica Menna and Theresa Armano, who had a double and an RBI against Molloy.
“She’s coming into her own,” said Terriers Coach Ann Marie Rich of Licul.
Armano will be the ace, replacing Nicole Lomangino. She did enough against Molloy to get the win, hitting her spots and changing speeds. Armano, allowed just three runs in the fifth, scattered five hits, struck out four and walked six. She got out of a bases-loaded, one-out jam in the third and stranded two in the bottom of the seventh.
“[I thought], ‘Just keep going,’” Armano said of the final inning. “I can’t let [runners] get in my head.”
St. Francis Prep features plenty of veterans, but an infusion of talented youth also. Rich is happy to start three of the four freshmen she’s brought up, the most during her tenure. Menna’s sister Juilanne and Monica Zhivanaj both started in the outfield and Taylor Russo was at second base. It has Rich excited for this year and beyond.
“It’s a talented group all around, but four freshman girls playing on varsity, it’s a dream,” she said.
Molloy is looking to benefit from an infusion of youth also after losing stars Maria Palmeri, Dana Moss and Victoria Goldbach to graduation. It still returned seniors Fallon McCarthy and Theresa Conway as well as junior Taylor Moss to lead an inexperienced group that includes five underclassmen.
“I’m very confident we will be a different team at the end of the season,” Stanners Coach Maureen Rosenbaum said. “They will learn and progress and will we see what they can do.”
Sophomore Alexandra Yule, who also hit fourth, was solid in the circle and held a 3-2 lead after five innings. She, sophomore Amanda Zeni and junior varsity starter Tiffany Wayte will also work to earn the title of ace in the circle.
“Whoever steps up will get the job,” Rosenbaum said. “I think they are all capable of doing it.”
St. Francis Prep believes it is capable of finally unseating Molloy as champions.
“I think this year we can take it all,” Licul said. “All 15 of us, if we work together, we can take it this year.”
©2013 Community Newspaper Group
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