After watching his young squad fall 13-7 to Section 9 champion Tuxedo in the Class C state regional semifinals, Section 1 champ Haldane’s coach Nick Lisikatos wore an ear-to-ear smile that seemed out of place considering the outcome of the game.
The Blue Devils rode a youth movement to just one game shy of a shot at the state final four. The future of Haldane softball looks promising.
“The season was up and down, we played some big schools and took some beatings but we also came back and beat some big schools,” Lisikatos said. “I think today the young players came in a little intimidated but the story of our season has been that we don’t quit.”
Haldane starting pitcher Marley Chefalo is in eighth grade, as is third baseman Melissa Tringalli. Second baseman Marissa Lisikatos is just a seventh grader and all three girls figure to be prominent members of the Blue Devils for years to come.
“A very good friend of mine called me after we won the section and asked me if I had told the girls that we weren’t supposed to win yet,” Lisikatos said. “And I guess they don’t know that, they only know what we teach and as long as there is a pitch left then we’re going to fight.”
Chefalo went the distance with six strikeouts but was unable to stymie the more experienced Tuxedo bats. The Tornadoes plated four runners in both the fourth and sixth innings and led by as much as seven during the game. Tuxedo had seven extra-base hits including two doubles and three RBI for catcher Corianna DeLisi.
Tornado pitcher Kelly Ross (seven innings, six strikeouts) kept the Blue Devils off balance for much of the day before Haldane rallied for three runs in the top of the seventh. Haldane catcher Samantha Lisikatos bashed a one-out inside the park solo homerun which was then followed by four straight singles before Ross was able to retire the side and clinch the win.
“I think that from the beginning of the season we knew this would be a work in progress and we always played together,” said Kelsey Flaherty, one of Haldane’s two departing seniors. “Getting back to this level of the season really means a lot to this team.”
Tuxedo advances to play Section 11 champion Pierson in the regional finals.