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Monday, May 5, 2014

Falcon's Nest Notes: Softball’s Back! Girls return to the field amid raindrops and smiles

The Flatbush Falcons "warm up" in the cold rain for their first game of the season
On a day that was more suited to playoff football than early season softball, the Flatbush Girls took a huge step bringing competitive softball back to the Yeshivah for the first time in years. For a while, it appeared as if this day would never come, with the regularly scheduled opener planned for Sunday with Westchester was cancelled with the field under water from the heavy rains this past Shabbat. Then it looked as though another deluge would wash out Tuesday’s game. But the girls were persistent. With freezing rain falling amid gusting winds, the girls arrived to Brooklyn’s Kaiser Park in the shadow of the Verazanno Bridge. With a very understanding umpire setting out the bases and delaying the start until the traffic-delayed opponents from North Shore would arrive, the girls warmed up (a distinct challenge under the chilly conditions) and prepared to get the season underway.
Sylvia Franco and Fatima Sharaby prepare for their first-ever Varsity Softball game
When the Stars from North Shore arrived, the weather gave a little reprieve, with the rain slowing to a trickle (but the chill air still remaining). The Falcons eagerly took the field behind Junior Pitcher Merle Cohen. And with the first pitch to Catcher Sarah Horowitz, Softball was back at Flatbush!

This marking the return of Girls Softball to the pantheon of teams housed in the Falcons Nest, it was not clear how the team would fare against teams that have been playing for many consecutive seasons. Playing at times like rookies and at times like seasoned vets, in just one inning of play Flatbush announced to the League that they will not be an “easy out.” Pitching for the first time in real game situations, Merle Cohen and the Flatbush defense yielded one run to the Stars while striking out two batters and watching Freshman Catcher Sarah Horowitz make a huge play at the plate to end the top half of the inning and hold North Shore to the lone single run. The bottom half of the inning showed that Flatbush would challenge offensively as well. With two outs, Sophomore Rose Mishaan - the only player on the Flatbush roster with MYHSAL softball experience (she played for Hillel last season before transferring to Flatbush in the Fall) – laced a single to left field. And with one mighty swing of the bat, Senior Allison Kassin drove the ball deep to the wide expanse of center field for a two-run home run and an early 1-run Flatbush lead!
Catcher Sarah Horowitz sets to receive the pitch
First-game jitters seemed to catch up with the Falcons defensively over the next three innings. After getting the North Shore lead-off hitter to look at strike three in the top of the second inning, defensive errors led to the Stars plating the tying run. And, as sharp as Cohen was in the first two innings, she faltered in the third as an inability to locate the ball for strikes led to a run of five walks wrapped around strikeout number four, resulting in two more runs for the visitors from Great Neck.

The Falcons got one run back in the bottom of the third as Allison Kassin got another big hit. After consecutive walks to Jen Maleh and Rose Mishaan, Kassin slapped a hard single to shortstop that scored Maleh from second, cutting the Flatbush deficit to one. But they gave the run right back, along with two more as North Shore hit a triple followed by three consecutive singles to plate three runs before Merle Cohen recorded her 5th strikeout of the game getting the batter to swing and miss to end the threat.
Rachel Tbeile stands at the plate
With the darkness growing, Flatbush would have one final chance to close the gap before the game would be official (league rules state a game can become official after the completion of four innings of play). The Falcons looked to take full advantage of the opportunity. Trailing by 4 runs, Fatima Sharaby opened the home half of the inning with a hard single to deep short. A single by Sarah Horowitz moved Sharaby up to second. That brought up Merle Cohen. With two on and one out, Cohen smacked a double that scored Sharaby, and left the Falcons down three runs with two runners in scoring position and the tying run coming to the plate in the person of Rachel Linfield.

It was at this point that the umpire, so understanding in doing everything in his power to help get this game in, was compelled to suspend game play due to darkness. When a date is agreed upon, the game will resume in the bottom of the fourth inning, with one out and runners on second and third and Flatbush trailing by a score of 7-4.
Merle Cohen delivers for one of her five strikeouts on the day
In the end, it was a banner day for Flatbush athletics. Girls Softball is back, even though the team still has no record over one month in to the season. But, with all the delays and the limited practices on the field, to see the girls compete was very satisfying. Even better were the attitudes of the student-athletes themselves. When asked of their first softball experience at Flatbush, Senior Ellen Haddad shared, “it was so much fun to be a part of the team; even though it was freezing cold, cheering on my teammates during the game made me feel a part of something exciting and fun.” Fatima Sharaby added, “It was so much fun to be out there! I could barely feel my fingers with the hail and the wind, but being out there on the field was just great. Now I know I really can play, and will be happy to have my parents come to our next game!” The Falcons now know they can compete in this league, and the rest of the MYHSAL now know it as well.

Nest Notes:
The season opener for Girls Softball had been scheduled for Sunday, 4/27, but poor field conditions led to the game’s postponement. The girls did get their first complete game in when they traveled to Long Beach, Long Island on Sunday, 5/4, to take on top-rated SKA. Playing without starting pitcher Merle Cohen and her back-up Rose Mishaan, the girls looked to Victoria Gindi to pick up the slack. Having never pitched in competition before, Gindi rose to the challenge and pitched the entire game. While she walked many, after a difficult 9-run first inning, she and her Falcon teammates settled down, yielding only 6 more runs the rest of the way and even recording her first career strikeout! Allison Kassin was strong in the 15-3 loss, going 2-3 with a triple. Rachel Tbeile and Naomi Terzi showed that their work in practice was well worth it as both made stellar plays in the field. Terzi also had one of the Flatbush RBI’s, along with Jen Maleh and Renee Sutton. The team looks to record its first victory on Wednesday, 5/7, as they travel to Central for a 6:30 pm start.
Victoria Gindi delivers a pitch in Long Beach as shoprtstop Alison Kassin looks on
The game started on Tuesday at Kaiser Park marks the first time a Girls Softball team has taken the field representing the Yeshivah of Flatbush in over 10 years. The last team to represent the school had a player on the roster by the name of Rozan Mizrahi, now the Head Coach for these Falcon girls! Chazak U’Baruch to Coach Mizrahi and all the members of the 2014 Flatbush Girls Softball team!