Cassie Reilly-Boccia experienced what would be considered a dream for many softball players in her freshman year playing for Alabama. The Yorktown graduate and her Alabama teammates advanced to the College World Series semifinals. Even though Alabama lost to eventual champ Florida, on John Jay graduate Ali Gardiners walk-off grand slam, Reilly-Boccia was looking forward to the College World Series becoming an annual rite for the Crimson Tide.
Last year though, Alabama was upset in regionals by Hawaii, leaving the Crimson Tide with an empty feeling. But that was then. Alabama, which is ranked second in the country, has returned to the College World Series in Oklahoma City and will open against seventh-ranked California Thursday at 1 p.m. The game is being televised on ESPN2. A win would send Alabama against the winner of No. 11 Baylor-Oklahoma State tomorrow, 7 p.m. on ESPN.
When you grow up watching softball and then your dreams come true, you really cant explain how it feels to be at the top of your sport, Reilly-Boccia said. Not making it last year fueled the team this year. It motivated us and it showed on the first day of practice this year when all the girls on the team passed the conditioning test.
Reilly-Boccia helped lead Yorktown to consecutive Section 1 Class AA titles in 2007-08, is the starting first baseman. She is hitting .313 with 10 home runs, tied for third, and 43 RBI. Reilly-Boccia has a .590 slugging percentage and .411 on-base average. Alabama was pushed to the brink in the super regional, rallying from a loss in the first-game to Stanford to take the final two games, including a 1-0 win in the third game.
The first game was probably the worst game we played all season, said Reilly-Boccia of the 5-2 loss to Stanford. We wanted to play another game right away. We knew if we played our softball we would be successful. Reilly-Boccia said she knows California will be a tough obstacle. The Golden Bears had to play a decisive third game to overcome Kentucky in the super regional.
California also plays in the PAC 10, which has always been the premier softball conference. California is a highly-respectable team and they are having a really great year, Reilly-Boccia continued. It feels good to know that we are going into the World Series peaking at the right time. We just want to stick to our game plan, which means play our game.
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