14u KPY Lady Knights Finish Fall 29-5, Undefeated (12-0) League Champs!
The 14u Lady Knights (LK) followed up a summer that included a Memorial Day tournament championship, two 2nd place tournament finishes and a 2nd place Baseball Heaven league finish with another excellent season this fall.
The LK began their 34 game fall season with a Baseball Heaven Girls Fastpitch Fall League double header against the Chiefs White. After squeaking past the Chiefs 10-8 in game 1, LK rolled to an 8-1 victory in game 2 and kicked off a winning streak that would never be broken! LK rolled off 8 more wins in a row to finish the regular season 10-0, #1 seed entering the playoffs.
The playoffs began with a game vs #4 seed SSA Nationals White who the LK had beaten 4 times during the regular season (7-3, 9-1, 9-1, 15-1) with 4 different LK starting pitchers. Not much changed in the playoffs as the LK rattled off 16 runs in 3 innings on a barrage of triples (2 for Jessie Forneiro, 1 Maddie Anderson, 1 Grace Heim, 1 Gianna Pizzulli). Sarah “The Machine” Gunn “gunned” down 3 of 3 runners attempting to steal second base and Grace Heim pitched 3 shutout innings (1 hit, 4k’s) to advance to the championship game vs Chiefs White.
Things would not come as easy for LK in the championship game. Chiefs White came into the game with momentum after knocking off the Owls in a big comeback win vs the Owls ace pitcher. The Chiefs jumped out to a 1-0 lead in the 1st but the LK answered back with 2 in the 2nd when Grace Heim lead off with a double and Gianna Pizzulli lashed an opposite field single to drive her home. After Gianna stole 2nd, Marissa Passantino drove her home with a base hit of her own. The Chiefs scored 4 in the 5th to jump ahead 7-5. The LK trailed by 2 with one out in the bottom of the 7th, staring their 1st league loss in the face. But….this team never gives up! Michelle Defina reached on a infield ground ball, followed by a rocket line drive over the second baseman’s head by Sarah Gunn. Alexa Shutowich worked a walk (her 3rd of the game) by fouling off a number of tough pitches. Maddie Anderson followed with a pop up over the first baseman’s head that was immediately called an infield fly rule but fell in between 1B, 2B & RF. Michelle scored from third to cut the lead to 1 with 2 outs and 2nd and 3rd for #2 hitter Jessie Forneiro. Jessie fouled off a number of pitches to work a walk and on ball 4 the pitch skipped past the catcher, scoring Sarah from 3rd to tie the game! Jess Sticco, one of the LK best hitters all season, was now at the plate in a tie game with 2 out and runners on 2nd & 3rd. On a 1-1 count, Jess punched a sinking line drive base hit up the middle in front of the center fielder for the walkoff win!!! The LK finished their league season 12-0 and closed out their fall season with the walkoff win and another league championship! The LK outscored their opponents 121-35 in league play!
On September 9th, the LK had their first tournament of the fall, which was a 1 day friendly hosted by the Aftershock. LK took 2 of 3, beating the Bluefire 12-3 and Aftershock 5-4.
On September 29th, LK entered the Toys for Tots tournament hosted by the MVP Mustangs at Baldwin Park. The LK won 4 of 5 games, knocking off the Queens Lady Rangers 15-2, Plainview Hawks 11-3, Aftershock 8-2 and the LI Thunder 6-2 finishing as tournament runner ups.
On the weekend of October 13th, the LK entered the Baseball Heaven “Think Pink for a Cure” tournament. After losing 10-9 to the Nationals Blue in the 1st game, LK rattled off 4 straight wins (Honeychucks 20-0, LI Flash twice 6-3, 14-4 and LI Heat 14-4) to advance to the championship game, once again facing the Nationals Blue. But the Nationals Blue were too much on this day and the LK finished as tournament runner ups again.
The last tournament, Shocktoberfest, was on the weekend of 10/21 hosted by the Aftershock at New Lane Field in Selden. LK once again won 4 of 5 games, beating LAC Force 4-0, QLR 8-0, Hurricanes 11-1 and Aftershock 5-3 for their 3rd straight 2nd place finish.
Overall, LK finished their tournament play 14-5, outscoring their opponents 160-81 leading to an overall season record of 29-5 (outscoring their opponents 303-125). The team batted exactly .400 (100 points higher than summer season) with a .503 on base percentage (OBP) and 64 extra base hits, almost doubling their summer output in similar plate appearances. The pitching staff lead the charge with a 3.34 team ERA (more than a run lower than summer), allowing only 161 hits in 170 innings pitched, striking out 122.
Individual Fall Highlights:
Madison Anderson, LK leadoff hitter, lead the team in batting average (.500) and extra base hits (11), blasting 6 doubles, 3 triples and 2 home runs while posting a .557 OBP (2nd on the team). Maddie had 9 multi hit games and at least 1 hit in 19 of 22 games played. Maddie was also dominant in the circle, going 3-0 with a 1.17 ERA. Maddie had back to back starts of 6 innings, 4 hits 0 earned runs vs the Nationals & Owls. Maddie was one of our best and most versatile fielders, playing a stellar LF & 3B with a cannon arm, aggressive style and energy that is contagious!
Daniella Popko turned in her best season as a LK this fall. Besides her important role as a team captain and attending all 34 games, Daniella batted .418 with a .556 OBP (3rd on the team). Daniella lead the team in singles (27) while driving in 19 and scoring 19 runs. Daniella finished the season on an 11 game hit streak, going 12 for her last 24 with 6 walks. Daniella also had one of her best seasons on the bump, going 5-0 with a 2.77 ERA. Her best start was against the Queens Lady Rangers in our Shocktoberfest tournament, where she went 6 shutout innings, giving up 5 hits and striking out 2.
Sofia Stampfli continued her stellar 2018 with a practical carbon copy of her summer season. Sofia batted .366/.489 with 27 runs scored (4th on team) and 12 RBI’s. Sofia also hit her 1st home run of her LK career on October 1st vs Owls that busted open the game, leading to a 9 run inning and a 10-4 win. Sofia’s best game at the plate came in game 2 against the Chiefs where she went 3-3 with 2 runs scored and a double to lead the charge in an 8-1 win. Sofia did a solid job in RF this year, also filling in at 2B/CF. Sofia has been working hard on her bunting skills and had a number of excellent bunt singles this season.
Grace Heim continued her onslaught at the plate this fall out of the cleanup spot, batting .483 and leading the team with a 597 OBP. Grace drove in 27 runs (2nd on team) and scored 29 runs (4th on team). Grace was 4th on the team in extra base hits (8), leading the team in triples (5). Grace ended the season on a 9 game hitting streak, going 14-22 with 11 RBI’s, three triples and a home run! Grace also excelled on the mound, going 8-1 with a 3.40 ERA. In 45 1/3 innings (2nd on team), Grace gave up only 38 hits while striking out 45 (team leader)! Grace’s best start of the year came against LAC Force (tournament champs) in our Shocktoberfest tournament, going 5 shutout innings, giving up 4 hits and striking out 2. Grace played an excellent third base, plays hard, works hard and is all business between the lines.
Marissa Passantino had a tremendous bounce back fall at the plate, batting .382/.462, 2nd on team in RBI (30) with 22 runs scored. Marissa was a picture of consistency, attending all 34 games and having at least one hit in 23 of those games. Marissa’s best game came against the Hurricanes where she went 2-3 with 2 RBI’s and a double while pitching 5 innings of 1 run ball, striking 6. Marissa was a workhorse for the Lady Knights in the circle, leading the team with 61 2/3 innings pitched, giving up only 54 hits and striking out 39 with a 3.86 ERA. Marissa also lead the team in wins, going 9-3 with 1 save including the victory in the Baseball Heaven Girl’s Fastpitch championship game vs Chiefs White. Marissa played a nearly flawless first base this fall while filling in in the outfield when needed.
Jessica Forneiro continued her steady ways, churning out another remarkably consistent fall season, batting .417/.532, leading the team in plate appearances (111), at bats (84), hits (35), runs (38), walks (24) and doubles (6) while driving in 25 runs (4th on team) and hitting 4 triples (2nd on team). Jessie was 3rd on the team in extra base hits (10). Jessie also attended all 34 games hitting in the 2nd spot in the order while playing excellent defense at both 2B & SS. Jessie had at least 1 hit in 26 of 34 games, 8 multi hit games including a 3 hit game vs the Hurricanes. Jess finished the season strong with 2 triples in our playoff game vs Nationals and a critical walk with 2 outs in the 7th inning, down a run in the championship game win. Jessie is a leader in the infield, always plays hard and has her head in the game.
Jessica Sticco, LK number three hitter and starting shortstop, batted .418/.481 with 27 runs scored (4th on team), 22 RBI’s, 4 doubles and a home run. Jessica’s best game came on 10/17 vs Nationals which saw Jess go 3 for 4 with 3 runs, 3 RBI’s, a double and a home run. Jess had 8 multi hit games, including three 3 hit games! Jess went bonkers in our Shocktoberfest tournament, going 11 for 17 with 7 runs, 5 RBI’s and 2 doubles. Jess is an absolute terror on the base paths, always busting it out of the box, putting pressure on the defense and constantly taking the extra base. Jess also added the bunt to her arsenal this fall. Jess has a bazooka for an arm and covers tremendous ground at shortstop, going back on balls better than anyone her age. Jess sent our team into our off-season in style with her 2 out, league championship walk-off hit on November 8th vs Chiefs!!
Natalia D’Onofrio hit her stride this fall, batting .476/.514, leading the team in RBI’s (33) home runs (3) and extra base hits (11) while scoring 23 runs. Natalia hit safely in 21 of 27 games, including 7 multi hit games. On the Sunday of our “Think Pink for a Cure” tournament at Baseball Heaven, Talia was smoking hot, going 4 for 7 with 3 runs 10 RBI’s, 1 triple and 3 home runs! Talia is our best bunter, using her blazing speed to beat out numerous bunt hits this fall, by far the most on the team. She can beat you long or short! Talia is one of the most talented outfielders I’ve seen at this level, covering tremendous ground, going back on balls and firing lasers to mow down base runners! Talia cut down a runner at the plate to end the top of the 7th inning and a scoring threat in our championship game which helped create the momentum we needed to mount a come from behind championship win!
Sarah Gunn improved this fall at the plate, batting .284/.412, scoring 19 runs and driving in 18. As always, Sarah attended all 34 games and started behind the dish in almost all of them. Sarah continues to improve her catching skills. Her blocking and throwing were by far the best of her career. Sarah threw out all 3 would be base stealers in our playoff game vs Nationals. Sarah also effectively added the bunt to her offensive arsenal this fall. Sarah is also one of our captains and team leaders, making every practice and game since she first started with the LK. Sarah had a HUGE hit to help start our rally in the bottom of the 7th in our league championship win.
Gianna Pizzulli continued her strong play this fall, batting .411/.492 with 23 runs scored, 19 RBI’s and 7 extra base hits (4 doubles/3 triples). Gianna hit safely in 16 of 24 games played with 7 multi hit games. In our “Think Pink for a Cure” tournament at Baseball Heaven, Gianna went 7 for 12 with 8 runs and 9 RBI’s! Gianna played all outfield positions, 3B and catcher for LK this fall. While G was solid at all, her most progress came at the catchers spot, improving her receiving, blocking and throwing. Gianna had a huge league playoff series, going 3 for 4 with 4 runs and 2 RBI’s.
Gabby Amicizia batted .500/.607 in limited plate appearances (28) and games played (13). On the Saturday of our Toys for Tots tournament, Gabby went 5 for 5 with 5 runs and 4 RBI’s while pitching us to victory vs the Queens Lady Rangers. Gabby went 4-1 in the circle with at 4.29 ERA. In 20 innings, Gabby struck out 15 and only walked 12. Her best start came in a 9-1 victory vs Nationals, going 6 innings, 6 hits, 1 run, 2 walks and 6 strikeouts.
Michelle Defina turned in her best season as a LK, batting .344/.447 over 20 games this fall. Michelle scored 11 runs and drove in 5. As always, Michelle was extremely reliable at second base. Michelle started our game winning rally in the bottom of the 7th with one out and nobody on, leading to 3 runs and a victory. Michelle’s best games both came vs the Owls where she went 2 for 3 with a run scored leading us to a 10-4 win and drove in 2 big runs later in the season leading us to an 11-6 win.
Alexa Shutowich had a productive rookie season for the LK, scoring 16 runs and driving in 5 with a .417 OBP. Alexa played all 3 OF positions as well as some 3B & 2B when needed. Alexa went 2 for 3 with 2 runs scored vs QLR in our Shocktoberfest tournament. In our league championship game, Alexa walked all 3 times up, including in the bottom of the 7th to continue our rally to win the game. Alexa’s bunting skills improved throughout the season and should be a big part of her game going forward.
Coaches John Forneiro, Carol & Mike Passantino, John Heim and Chris Stampfli would like to congratulate the girls on a tremendous 2018 year! Enjoy the off-season. Looking forward to winter training in February!!