By MIKE SMITH
When the Tuckahoe-Bronxville softball team escaped with an 8-7 win over Yonkers-Monetssori on May 27, it was a bittersweet moment for Tiger coach John McGrath. His team had just pulled off a first-round playoff win, but the skipper knew his squad’s season was effectively over at that point.
With a semifinal-round mat-chup with Valhalla looming two days later, McGrath knew that he wouldn’t have his full squad on hand for the next game as the game conflicted with Tuckahoe’s prom.
On May 29, his team–minus most of its key contributors and with a number of JV call-ups–fell to a powerful Valhalla squad 19-2 at Haindl Field.
According to McGrath, Tuckahoe’s prom wasn’t initially a conflict for the Tigers’ playoff hopes, but bad weather pushed the games back
to prom day.
“I knew it was going to be Thursday, but I didn’t want to say anything to the girls,” McGrath said. “When I told them, obviously they were very upset.”
McGrath said the news was especially hard on his lone senior starter, shortstop Laura Fitzpatrick.
“It was tough for her,” he said. “Knowing that she had just played her last varsity game.”
Although Tuckahoe did field a squad to take on the Vikings, McGrath conceded that it would have taken more than a few good hops to overtake the reigning section champs.
“I had my daughter [ace pitcher Cassie McGrath] and the JV players,” he said. “Even with a full squad, it would have been tough for us to beat a team like Valhalla.”
But despite the sour end to the season, McGrath said the Tigers were able to accomplish a lot this spring. Struggling to replace six seniors from last year’s team, the Tigers clicked early to finish with a 17-win season that saw them grab the top seed in the Class C playoffs.
“If you told me we were going to win 17 games this season, I would have been satisfied with that,” he said. “Actually, I’m so much more than satisfied with the year our girls had.”
The Tigers should be a force again in 2015, losing just one senior starter to graduation. McGrath feels the continued maturation of his daughter will play a big part in the team’s success moving forward.
“She keeps working hard,” he said of his freshman hurler. “And she will continue to reach that next level.”
McGrath was also impressed by the way his JV players handled the daunting task of taking on Valhalla, a team that went on to capture the Class C crown on May 31.
“The thing I saw was that these girls never looked overmatched,” he said. “They were able to play on that level.”