Had Classical senior Angela Erelli made the catch during a Rams’ softball practice, you still would have called it “great.”
But when you make a lunging, twisting, fully extended, back-to-the-plate grab in the bottom of the seventh of a state tournament game with victory on the line – the play makes the all-time leap from great to unforgettable.
Classical coach Chris Warren said he will be talking about Angela Erelli’s game-saving catch – which will be forever known as The Catch – until at least the year 2020 and likely beyond.
“Unbelievable play by Ang,” said Warren just moments after the team had enveloped Erelli in an unfettered midfield celebration following the 6-5 victory over Newton South. “She made a transition from the outfield to the infield this season and to make that play late in the game with everything riding on it – wow!”
The 2020 reference actually refers back to a Classical-Newton South game from seven years ago. “We played a 14-inning state tournament game with Newton South and Ashia Holcolmbe got up off the bench and made a pinch-hit, game-winning RBI and I told this team on the bus, ‘Who will I be talking about in 2020 after this game?’ – and it’s Angela Erelli making that game-saving catch.”
Warren said a lot of players stepped up in the game against Newton South and made big contributions. “[Winning pitcher] Ivy Martin, Frankie Galeazzi, Gabby Kenniston [three hits, two RBI], Sam Earp making a big play to get an out at the plate, but that one play by Angela Erelli will stick out forever.”
Erelli was asked what her thoughts were when the ball was hit in her direction, the game was hanging in the balance, and right fielder Gabby Kenniston was charging in fast from her position.
“I honestly don’t even think I was thinking during that play,” said Erelli. “And honestly if it were hit to me again, I don’t think I would catch it. I really don’t. I thought it was going to go over my head. I don’t know how I caught it.”
Erelli said she had an intuition that she would be called upon to make a fielding play in that situation.
“I knew she was going to hit it to me, because the batters in that part of the order had all been hitting it to my side. So I was ready for it to come to me.”
Newton South coach Dave Salett, like everyone else watching the game, thought Minh-An Quinn’s blooper had a game-winning hit written all over it.
“From where I was standing, I thought the ball dropped in, but then I saw them all cheering and I knew they caught it,” said Salett. “Both teams showed that they wanted to win this game. There were some great plays all around, and obviously it ends on a great play and what better way to end it.”
Earlier in the seventh inning senior third baseman Sam Earp set the stage for Erelli’s heroics by throwing a strike to catcher Bobbie Dee Regan to nail the tying run at home plate.
“Sam made a great play – that was huge,” said Erelli. “Gabby Kenniston had a lot of really great hits. I think we really did great as a team today. I have a lot of faith in my team so I knew we could win it.”
Erelli was a second baseman in the Wyoma Little League and Lynn Babe Ruth Softball. She was an outfielder for her whole career at Classical before Warren moved her to second base this season, shifting Earp to third.
Playing what could have been the last game of her high school career, Erelli knew what was on the line in the bottom of the seventh inning with runners on second and third and Classical clinging to a one-run lead.
“Because I’m a senior, I really did not want it to be my last game,” said Erelli. “So I’m really glad that I saved the game and we get to keep playing.”
Classical plays No. 1 seed Concord-Carlisle today in a state tournament quarterfinal round game.