A softball team can’t be in a more dire situation than the one the EHT 12U Tornadoes found themselves in during the Babe Ruth World Series semifinals against JPRD West (Louisiana) on Thursday morning. The Tornadoes trailed Louisiana — the No. 1 seed of the four remaining teams in the knockout rounds and a team that had allowed exactly zero runs entering Thursday’s game — 7-1 heading into the final inning.

Coaches John and Mariealena D’Agostino, and Dave Del Re, just kept telling the girls not to give up, to keep fighting, that anything can happen. Sure, it sounded like coach speak — until the hits and runs began to pile up.

EHT stormed back to tie the game, 7-7, then went ahead 8-7 on a hit by Gianna Gonzalez. Still, the Tornadoes weren’t out of the woods yet. Louisiana loaded the bases with nobody out in its final at-bat, putting the potential tying and winning runs in scoring position. Miraculously, EHT wiggled out of the jam with two pop-outs and a flyout to seal an 8-7 victory. The No. 4 Tornadoes advance to the championship series, where they’ll take on Buffalo (W.Va.), the No. 2 seed, on Friday. All games in the championship series are scheduled for Friday, with Game 1 at 11 a.m., Game 2 at 1 p.m. and the if necessary Game 3 at 3 p.m., all in Jenson Beach, Fla.

“We couldn’t believe it. It was heart-pounding,” said Monica Amadio, mom of catcher Allison Amadio. “We were literally praying on every pitch, screaming, it was a crazy comeback. It was an incredible comeback.”

Allison caught the first pop-up of the inning behind the plate, then Gonzalez made a tremendous catch in left field for the second out and nearly doubled up the runner at third. The game ended with Isabella D’Agostino corralling a pop-up at shortstop to send the Tornadoes into the finals.

“For that pop-up, I was praying, ‘dear Lord, please help me catch this.’ And that kind of started a chain reaction on our team,” Amadio said. “I didn’t really do well hitting, but my teammates picked me up. (After the final out) I saw coach John come running out of the dugout screaming, then I started jumping around and yelling.”

“We were all really nervous,” said Ashlyn Warker. “I hurt my elbow a few weeks before this tournament, so I was in the dugout with Mary Del Re and our coaches, and we were all just standing there watching, going crazy and hoping we would win. When the bases were loaded, we were all really nervous and I was like, ‘I don’t know what we’re going to do to get out of this.’ But things started to happen and we started to get outs, and I thought we could win it. We’re all so excited.”

Center fielder Michaela Schlemo said she could barely watch that final pop-up to short.

“I was really nervous. I was just hoping we would catch everything and get three outs,” she said. “Everyone just started hugging Bella because she got the last out, and we were all screaming and jumping.”

“That was pretty exciting. That last inning was crazy. When it was 7-1 — we didn’t play great up to that point. They were a great team, but we didn’t play great either. It wasn’t looking good, but that was one of the most incredible comebacks I’ve ever seen, given the level of competition and the team we were playing. And, typically, we’re not a great hitting team. That’s not our strength overall. Then, they get the bases loaded and I didn’t know what was going to happen. But we battled through. It really was incredible. I’m losing my voice right now, and I don’t scream that much,” John D’Agostino said. “Against a team that hadn’t given up a run the whole tournament going into that game, we just said the game wasn’t over and to keep fighting until the last out, and we’ll see what happens. Obviously, it wasn’t looking good. I’m so incredibly proud of these girls. We’ve worked all summer to be in that spot and get to this point, and to come back and keep fighting — we were down 7-2 with two outs in the last inning. It makes us really proud of them as coaches. They had a really good pitcher, but we just kept hitting line drive after line drive into the gaps. It was incredible.”

“It was 7-1 going into our last at-bat, and we were still down by five with two outs. A girl would get on, drive another girl in, get in scoring position, then another girl would come up and get another single until we got it to 7-7. Gianna Gonzalez hit the go-ahead run in to put us up 8-7. It was unbelievable,” added Dave Del Re. “Gianna had a great catch, Shelby Barnes had a great hit, Elianna Meola came in and pitched great in the last inning. They had bases loaded with no outs, and we just told them to take it one pitch at a time. We’ve been saying since we started, ‘if you want to be the best, you have to beat the best.’ And that team was one of the best teams we’ve ever faced.”

Del Re said the team has been inspired by all the support they are getting from the Jersey Shore through text messages and Facebook posts.

“We have a great fan base at home cheering us on. We get text messages every morning, and the girls put up a video on our Facebook page to our fans, just showing them how much energy we have and how we feed off (the support),” he said. “We love everybody at home cheering us on and keeping us in mind while these girls do this special thing.”

Allison Amadio said that in terms of getting ready for tomorrow, the players are invoking the passion of another assistant coach Ray Murdock, who wasn’t able to make the trip to Florida because of work commitments.

“We’re going to dominate,” she said. “That’s what our coach who couldn’t be here says, to dominate. He tells us that before every game to get us ready.”

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