It’s been a trying season for Maria Palmeri, physically and mentally.
The Archbishop Molloy star has been off the softball field more than she’s been on it, first dealing with a knee injury and then a back ailment.
She hasn’t been the only player on the Molloy roster to miss time because of injuries.
“We have 16 girls on the team and up until mid last week, we didn’t have 16 healthy girls,” Molloy coach Maureen Rosenbaum said. “It’s been a difficult season because we haven’t had everybody and we do now finally.”
Indeed, the Stanners are finally whole and it resulted in one of the most complete performances of the year in a 6-0 victory against rival St. Francis Prep Monday at Cunningham Park.
The victory came after back-to-back losses to St. Joseph by the Sea in a non-league game Saturday in Huguenot and to division foe Mary Louis. Every win against St. Francis Prep is sweet for the Stanners, but because of the recent setbacks, Monday’s victory was even sweeter.
“It makes it so much bigger because now we’re back on the right track,” slugger Taylor Moss said. “I think it definitely proved we’re still the defending champions.”
Moss led the charge offensively with a triple in the second, a two-run double in the sixth inning and two runs scored. But it was a balanced attack with eight of the nine batters reaching safely at least once.
“The core hits the majority of time, but we do need consistent hitting throughout the lineup,” Rosenbaum said.
The big story, though was Palmeri’s first league win of the year. Rosenbaum wanted her to keep things simple early and the Stanners leader responded with a solid diet of fastballs early in the game until she got more comfortable.
“I liked how she stayed composed, she took her time to use different pitches,” Rosenbaum said. “She was working with the catcher. I wanted to keep her confidence and just let he throw fastballs for a little while until she got into a groove.”
Palmeri scattered six hits in the complete-game shutout, striking out four with two walks. St. Francis Prep (6-4), ranked No. 7 in New York City by MSG Varsity, had runners at second and third with two outs in the second, but Palmeri ended the inning by striking out Theresa Armano.
Freshman Kelly Licul led off the fourth inning with a walk and Brianna Emanuele followed with a single up the middle. But Palmeri retired the next three batters to get out of another potential jam.
“It’s been a long run, its really been a lot of work and pressure to get back,” Palmeri said. “I’m finally healthy and back into it.”
Palmeri had plenty of offensive support early. After Taylor Moss belted a triple to right and scored on one of the Terriers’ three errors in the second, No. 6 Molloy (8-2) added three runs in the third – Palmeri helped herself with an RBI double – and two more in the sixth.
“This was probably one of the better games we’ve played all year,” Rosenbaum said, “We’ve struggled and we’ve been inconsistent. We played well against St. Joseph by the Sea on Saturday, but we didn’t hit. We were asking for more contribution from the top and bottom of the lineup and everybody seemed to contribute today.”
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