Rye Recreation’s Sound Shore Women’s Softball League crowned a new champion this year, after the Legal Eagles defeated Frank’s Pizza in the playoff finals, on Tuesday, August 14.
A slow start to the season left the Eagles questioning their power in the playoffs, but some midseason position changes rejuvenated the team, and sent them steamrolling into the post-season. A regular season record of 6-7 landed the Eagles the fourth seed moving into playoffs, pitting them against a fifth seeded 97 Lake (5-8). Drawing from their experience in the league, both teams knew that sticking to fundamental softball would be their key to victory. After seven innings of nail-biting play, the Eagles edged over 97 Lake with a 5-4 advantage, advancing them into the next round of playoffs.
Next on the docket for the Legal Eagles was the first place team based in Rye Brook (15-1). The teams were at a draw, with one win apiece at the end of the regular season, after Rye Brook forfeit a Sunday morning match up. Both looked to change the scales as the stakes were raised. Many had counted the Eagles out by this point in the playoffs, citing a Rye Brook v. Ball Busters final approaching, but the Eagles rose to the occasion, and handed Rye Brook their only on-field loss of the summer. The team came out strong, taking an early lead against their opponent, and proceeded to play impenetrable defense. This focus allowed the Rye-based team to maintain their 5-1 lead, and move into the championship series.
After seeing the importance of gaining an early lead, the Eagles looked to come out strong against their opponent. Solid hitting by the ladies in pink, especially Desiree Mion, Rosemarie Hanley, and Elise Byrnes, drove in base runners, giving the Eagles an early advantage. Defensive efforts kept Frank’s Pizza’s (9-4) attempts to score at bay, with outstanding catches in the outfield courtesy of the team’s new left fielder, Janine Carpinello. By controlling the pace of the game, the Legal Eagles were able to take a commanding lead. After five innings of play the Eagles were ahead 18-3, forcing the umpires to end the game early, citing the “Gong Rule.”
“The turn around in our season was outstanding,” said player-manager Rosemarie Hanley. “We really peaked just in time for playoffs.” This appeared to be true Thursday after the team’s first win, but Frank’s Pizza still had an opportunity to rebound in the best-of-three championship series.
Both teams took the weekend off to regroup for their Tuesday night match up at Rye Rec. A looming storm put pressure on the teams to come out strong, but it took until the second inning for a run to be scored. From there the Eagles rallied, raising the score to 4-1. A bases clearing triple by Kelsey Hanley earned the team some insurance runs, setting the score at 7-1. Tracy Meyerson’s pitching helped the Eagles on the defensive end, allowing only two more runs from that point on. Frank’s Pizza made a late attempt to rally in the seventh inning, but their efforts fell short, and the Eagles clinched the title of Women’s Softball Champs for the 2012 season.
“I really wanted to win this in two games,” remarked shortstop Kelsey Hanley, after the Tuesday night showdown. “We’ve been doing so well lately, and loss could have thrown off the rhythm we set.”
The Legal Eagles, sponsored by Grossman & Associates, of Rye, features many familiar faces, including Maura Kelly, Betty Jane Gianfrancesco, Melissa Cohen, Lindsey Hanley, Caroline Feeley, Emma and Janet Herbold, Bridget Vavasour, Sue Payne, Aisling Geraghty, Laurie Singer, and Glennie Westerink. Of his team, George Grossman stated “They really came together to prove themselves this year. It was tough losing in the championship game last year, but this year they did exactly what they needed to, and I think it shows the dedication of these ladies.”
Many of the members of not only the Legal Eagles, but the entire league, have been playing for decades. Fans at the championship game were not only family members and friends of the players, but members of opposing squads. Nearly every team in the league had representatives at the field, waiting to see who would ultimately take the crown.
“It’s a league with strong ties to the community,” said Carpinello, a lifetime resident of Rye. “Having other teams show their support is exactly what this league is about, and is why it has been successful for all of these years.”
The Legal Eagles are already looking forward to the competition that the 2013 season will bring, and hope to defend their title in the playoffs next August.
(submitted by the Legal Eagles)