Taylor Pirones first thought was of major concern after her Fordham University softball teammate and starting pitcher Jen Mineau got hurt in the fifth inning against Alabama, ranked third in the country.
What happened next was unexpected.
The first thought was Oh God, is Jen alright? What happened? said Pirone, a freshman and Ursuline graduate. Then Coach Orchard called my name and told me I was going in. I was pretty shocked, even though I had been out in the bullpen warming up all game.
Pirone entered the game with the bases loaded and one out against the Southeastern Conference and national power, and Fordham trailing by a run. Not only did Pirone escape the jam, she would earn the win as Fordham rallied to an 8-5 victory.
Pirone went the final two and two-thirds innings, striking out three and allowing two hits. She would also retire Alabama first baseman and former Yorktown great Cassie Reilly-Boccia, in the sixth inning. Reilly-Boccia led Yorktown to the 2007 and 2008 Section 1 Class AA softball championships and has been a four-year starter for the Crimson Tide.
A four-year varsity starting pitcher at Ursuline, Pirone said she has received a few starts, but has acclimated herself to being more a reliever this year. This allowed her to focus immediately.
It was pretty nerve-wracking to be called on in a one-run game against Alabama, said Pirone, who pitched Ursuline to two Section 1 Class AA finals. My teammates were cracking jokes behind me as I was throwing my few warm-up pitches. They were pretty loose behind me so that allowed me to stay loose, as well.
Pirone came in a retired the first batter on a line out, then registered a strikeout, with the help of catcher Gabby Leuty, to end the inning. What happened after is something Pirone will always remember.
It was a swinging foul tip that Gabby held on to in order for us to get out of the inning, Pirone said. It was the biggest adrenaline rush. It was so unbelievable because the whole stadium erupted in cheers as soon as the ball hit Gabbys glove. Fordham began defense of its Atlantic 10 softball championship this week fresh off the win over Alabama.
To beat a nationally-ranked opponent, like Alabama, at home was a huge boost we needed coming into the postseason, Pirone said.
Click here to sign up for Daily Voice's free daily emails and news alerts.