Fontbonne Hall Academy Softball: Bonnies Win Opener for Coach James
By Jim Dolan
Fontbonne 6 Molloy 5
Like many Fontbonne fathers who coach their daughters, 64-year-old Allen James stayed on to coach softball at the school for many years after his daughter’s graduation. Known as “Mr. James” to his players, the Bonnies’ coaching fixture was missing at first base for the varsity’s home opener on April 3 at Dyker Park. Ill and in failing health, James succumbed to lung cancer this past Jan. 31.
To remember the team’s loss, the Bonnies wore commemorative T-shirts with James’ name and his favorite saying, “Next Fish,” a phrase he used in fielding practice when he hit balls to the outfield.
Members of the James family, including wife Barbara and daughters Jennifer, Christine and Laurie, attended a pregame memorial. As both teams stood on the foul line, holding the Fontbonne-colored blue-and-white balloons, head coach Frank Marinello told of James’ dedicated work with Fontbonne’s softball program over the past 20 years.
James’ daughter Jennifer Favoto, who previously played softball for Fontbonne, recited a touching poem, reminding those in attendance that everyone who passes on leaves something of themselves for others.
After the emotional ceremony, the Bonnies switched gears to play one of the league’s tougher opponents to open the season — last year’s CHSAA champs, the Stanners from Archbishop Molloy.
Drawing on the pregame inspiration, sophomore pitcher Nicollete Tripani tied the game for the Bonnies at 4-4 in the sixth inning with an RBI single, then won the game with a bases-loaded single to left in the seventh inning for the final score of 6-5.
Maintaining that this was a “big game for us to have for Mr. James,” Tripani also got the win, striking out seven Stanners while allowing only two hits.
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