NYC preseason softball: No. 9 Francis Lewis
A year ago, Francis Lewis reached the PSAL Class A semifinals for the first time since 2004, but even though there are six starters back from that squad, senior ace Priscilla Lallave knows the Patriots aren’t getting a Golden Ticket back to the final four this year.
“We have to earn our spot,” she said. “It’s not just last year we won, got to the semifinals and we’re getting a free ticket to the semifinals. We’re not. We have to fight for everything and show we’re better than last year.”
Lallave has the same attitude when it comes to her game. As a junior, she was 12-1 with a 1.18 earned run average, striking out 90 in 71 innings. But she’s not resting on her laurels.
“Nothing is enough for me,” Lallave said. “I know I’m not amazing, but I can be. I’ve got to earn my spot.”
As for her repertoire in the circle, Lallave has improved her changeup, which she adds to a wicked screwball and a rise. She’s not the most dominant windmiller in the city, but the fact that she knows that impresses coach Bryan Brown.
“She’s not going to blow people away and she understands she doesn’t need to in order to be successful,” he said. “She just needs to be consistent.”
The same is true of the Patriots, who celebrated like they won a city title when beating Susan Wagner, 7-6, in the quarterfinals and didn’t bring the same intensity to their semifinal game against eventual champion Tottenville, according to Brown.
“I thought when we got to the Final Four we were too focused in on, OK, we did it,” he said. “The Wagner game was our championship game and we didn’t think even bigger.”
That’s a difference this year.
“It does make us hungrier now because we got a little taste of what it feels like to be in the semifinals and to play the No. 1 team, Tottenville, and it makes us want to get there again,” junior shortstop Samantha Lallave said. “I know that’s my goal for my sister because she’s a senior now.”
There are actually three Lallave sisters in the starting lineup – Priscilla in the circle, Samantha at short and freshman Selena behind the plate.
“It’s funny because each year we just got a new one, a new addition,” senior third baseman Bianca Concepcion said. “They’re all great. It’s really good to have them all on the team.”
There’s a family feel among the other nine players on the squad, too.
“We have a lot of fun when we’re going through practices and it helps us learn a lot more because if we hated each other we wouldn’t listen to each other or learn from each other,” Samantha Lallave said.
Concepcion will be asked to again provide solid defense at third, while Samantha Lallave, who will hit third, will look to again burn opponents with her speed. She led Class A in stolen bases, going 37-for-37 a year ago.
Senior Amanda Nardo will start at second, senior Kiara Libreros moves from right to center field and junior Neleini Esmeral will be in left for the Patriots, who have already started the league season 3-0.
“Defense is what wins us games, that’s what we hang our hats on,” Brown said. “But hitting has to be something we need to pick up on.”
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