For a game that was supposed to be stress free, Elinet Santana sure felt the weight of the world on her bat when she had a full count with two outs and the winning run on third in the bottom of the final inning of the Boston City League Softball All-Star Classic.
After belting a shot to right field that deflected off the fielder’s glove and out of play, the Madison Park senior shortstop easily rounded third and was on her way home when she pulled up, realizing the hit was called a ground rule double.
Her North squad failed to send her home and the game ended in an 11-11 tie.
“It was a lot of pressure,” she said. “It was a 3-2 count and my team was counting on me. Everything was on me. Everyone was like ‘Eli, Eli, Eli.’ When it hit her glove I thought I could make it home, at least to third. I was like ‘Yes’ and then my coach told me I had to go back to second.
“I was like ‘Are you kidding me?’ I was disappointed but it’s for fun. I at least made the All-Star team. I love my team, I love my coach. I had a great time. I met new people, new friends. It was my first time being an All-Star.”
Despite being paced by Boston Latin Academy sophomore pitcher Sydney McGrath’s 11 strikeouts, the South squad let the North back in the game twice.
“Our pitcher pitched well enough for us to win but we shot ourselves in the foot a couple times,” South coach Rocco Zizza of Boston Latin Academy said. “[McGrath] is a tough kid. She tries as hard as she can every time out there.
“Our kids have not played on Astroturf before so we had a couple mistakes. The ball is quicker.”
After scoring five runs in the fourth inning to go up 8-3, the North battled back in the bottom of the inning to trail 8-7 going into the fifth.
Then after South took an 11-7 lead in the sixth, South tied the game in the bottom of the sixth to go into the decisive seventh, which turned out to be not so decisive.
“The ball hit the glove and rolled out, that shouldn’t have been called out of play but it’s okay,” North coach Gladys Perez-Byrd of Madison Park said. “This is a fun game to play. There’s no pressure and we didn’t worry. We just went out and had fun and played.”
Zizza was named the South coach last year too but he couldn’t coach the game because it conflicted with his team’s state tournament game.
“It’s fun getting kids from other schools,” he said. “It’s pretty neat to see how the kids get along right away.”
Before the game, which was sponsored by the Boston Scholar Athlete Program and the Boston Centers for Youth and Families, the BSA and BCYF handed out awards, including the Most Improved Award to Jussara Pontes of the Burke.
The Academic Excellence Award went to Cindy Cruz of Hyde Park and Danielle Lydon of Boston Latin Academy won the Determination Award.
BCYF gave its Sportsmanship Award to Brenda Calderon of the Burke and Tiara Dunbar of West Roxbury.