As effective as she has been as Cypress Bay’s shutdown pitcher all season, Sarah Maloney can also swing the bat and proved it Tuesday night.
Hosting district rival Cooper City in a Region 3-8A semifinal, Maloney led the way for the Lightning’s eight-hit attack by going three-for-three, including two doubles and two RBI as Cypress Bay (20-6) blew open a close game with five sixth-inning runs to defeat the Cowboys 7-1.
Maloney also got plenty of help from her teammates, most notably Nikki Rotman and Monika Garabedian, who both clocked tape measure home runs over the left field fence off Cooper City freshman Kara Lokeinsky.
With their eyes clearly on getting back to the state final four in Vero Beach where they suffered a heartbreaking, one-run loss to Coral Reef in last year’s state title game, Lightning players have one more hurdle to get over and will travel to Palm Beach County on Friday night to take on Park Vista in the Region 3 final.
“This is a great win because we know how good a team Cooper City is and to be able to beat them the way we did tonight and actually pull away at the end definitely made it easier than all of those one-run games,” said Maloney, who gave up just three hits and struck out eight, but struggled with her control early on walking five batters in the first three innings. “To be able to come out here when we needed to get it done tonight and get it done feels great. Offensively, sure I contributed but Nikki and Monika came through big-time as well.”
Rotman’s blast was the big one. It came in the last of the second with Maloney standing on third base with two outs and gave her an early 2-0 lead.
“It was a really important moment because this was a big game and we needed to try and get out in front early,” Rotman said. “We needed big hits from everyone in order to come out on top and I was fortunate enough to get a nice pitch to hit and turned on it. It was a great feeling.”
After the Cowboys (20-7) sliced Maloney’s lead in half with a two-out RBI single in the third off the bat of Shannon Legacky, the game settled into a pitcher’s duel between the two starters.
That was, until the last of the sixth when, with one out and two on, Maloney laced a fast ball to the right-center field fence for a double, scoring both runners to make it 4-1 and give herself some seventh-inning breathing room. She got even more room than that two batters later when Garabedian stepped up and drove a three-run blast to complete the scoring.
“I think we expected this game to be close tonight because our previous three games had all been decided by one run and it was again tonight until we managed to blow it open there at the end,” said Cypress Bay head coach Lonnie Shapiro. “We have a lot of girls in the lineup who have a lot of potential and ability to hit the ball over the fence and we got that tonight. We talked about making adjustments from when we saw [Lokeinsky] nine days ago and struggled offensively [a 1-0 Cypress win], and I trusted them to make the adjustments and it looked like it worked out very well.”
CC 001 000 0 – 1 3 0
CB 020 005 X – 7 8 1
WP: Maloney (15-3); LP: Lokeinsky (16-5). Top performers: CC – Shannon Legacky 1-for-3, RBI; CB – Sarah Maloney 3-for-3, 2 2B, 2 RBI, Monika Garbedian 1-for-3, 3-run HR, Nikki Rotman 1-for-2, 2-run HR