Honor Sankey felt the ball hit her glove and squeezed as hard as she possibly could. She wasn’t letting go. Even when she heard the cheers of her teammates and felt bodies piling on top of her in a post-celebration huddle, the Poly Prep senior couldn’t bring herself to let go of the ball. Sankey may never actually give it back.
The Blue Devils third baseman caught the final out of the day, securing a 5–4 Poly Prep victory over Fieldston in the New York State Association of Independent Schools softball championship at Manhattanville College on May 25.
“It’s the type of thing you can’t practice, you just hope, when the time comes in the game, you deliver,” Sankey said. “You do the instinctual thing, and that’s just to make a play on the ball. You get your glove around it and just squeeze really tight. It went in slow motion, and I’ll never forget it for as long as I live.”
Poly Prep (13–2) struggled early, scoring two runs in the second, before giving up the lead when Fieldston responded in the bottom of the inning.
The Blue Devils were unable to take advantage of a handful of Fieldston (16–3) errors and left the bases loaded in the fifth.
The Eagles, the three-time reigning state champs, padded the lead after Grace Dearden drilled a triple into center field in the sixth.
Poly Prep never panicked. There was only one thought – do your job.
“I actually didn’t tell them anything,” said Blue Devils coach Mildred Piscopo. “Honor was in the huddle, yelling that we weren’t going to lose. There was nothing more to say. They just had to believe in themselves, not to do much and get their one hit.”
Carly Corr and Morgan O’Mara recorded back-to-back hits, quickly putting the Blue Devils into scoring position.
Fieldston got one out, but Jane Molafronte brought the pair home with a ground ball and knotted the game at four. Molafronte got on base because Eagles third baseman West Duchovny couldn’t connect on the force out at first, but all the runner was thinking about was tagging up.
“It was a lot of adrenaline, because it was the last chance to really make it count,” Molafronte said. “At that point I wasn’t really worried about how I got on base, I was just trying to make it to the bag.”
Another Fieldston error two batters later allowed Molafronte to cross home and gave Poly Prep a lead it would never again surrender.
“What happened in the top of the seventh, was things just started going our way,” Sankey said. “The key is to capitalize when that happens, and we did.”
Fieldston tried to battle back in the bottom of the seventh, getting two runners on base, but Poly Prep’s defense stepped up, and Sankey highlighted that with her diving catch for the final out.
The title is the Blue Devils’ first since 2011 and is especially sweet after Poly Prep fell to Fieldston in the final last season. It wasn’t always pretty, but walking off the field, Poly Prep couldn’t help but feel good about the win.
“It means a ton,” said Piscopo. “It’s sort of getting that monkey off your back. Being able to win at this venue, it means a lot.”