With latest victory, JFK remains perfect on season


Six-month-old Sarah Grace Mansfield took in her first Kennedy softball game last Friday afternoon and, not surprisingly, it ended in a Knights’ victory. 

Sarah’s father is Keith Mansfield, Kennedy’s head coach, who has piled up wins by the truckload with the Knights over the past several seasons, and now envisions his new daughter as being a lucky charm for the remainder of the season.

But judging by the Knights’ 2017 resume so far, there is no need for lucky charms as the Knights continued their roll through the Bronx B division with a convincing 13-3 victory over Roosevelt at Seton Park.

Kennedy’s latest victory upped the Knights’ record to 8-0 on the season, giving them a combined 34-3 record over the past two-plus seasons. Talk about your powerhouse program.

“It’s a well-rounded team,” Mansfield said. “We have five senior leaders on the team — Kim Zapata, Skye Muniz, Gianna Rodriguez, Sophia Paulino and Nathalie Leon — and these girls are smart. Every day we talk about three things: discipline, having each other’s back and hustle. Discipline is about knowing the game and knowing the rules. 

“These girls are all very smart. They have good grades and they’re all good students, and they are a team that knows the game.”

Do they ever. A quick perusal of Kennedy’s 2017 schedule reveals just how dominating the Knights have been this season. Scores like 26-0, 28-6, 27-0, 20-0 and 24-3 jump right out at you. Those are football scores, not softball outcomes. 

So it came as little surprise when the Knights polished off Roosevelt with relative ease last Friday.

But that ease is a slight concern for Mansfield as he feels his team hasn’t really been tested much by its opponents this season.   

“Monroe was a test, they were a decent team,” Mansfield said. “But every team is missing something and we’re pretty well rounded. So we’re going to try and schedule a scrimmage with an A team to get us ready for the playoffs. We’re trying to schedule Bronx Science. They’re a very good team.”

Kennedy also has the added benefit of having that solid group of senior leaders on a team looking to make its second trip to the city championship game in three seasons.   

“I’m riding my five seniors, they are my core,” Mansfield said. “It’s like the Yankees core when they had (Derek) Jeter, (Jorge) Posada, Mariano (Rivera), Bernie (Williams) and (Andy) Pettitte. This is it. This is their senior year.”

The Knights also have something else their opponents don’t have — Stacy Hernandez. The stellar junior pitcher has been her usual dominating self again this season after a superlative sophomore season last year. Against Roosevelt, Hernandez allowed just one hit and one earned run while knocking in four herself. 

Both Zapata and Leon added three RBIs apiece in the victory.

“We think we’re pretty good, but I understand there are other good teams out there,” Hernandez said. “We’re not unbeatable, although we haven’t lost yet.”

Kennedy has three games on its docket this week and a chance to sew up the Bronx B title with a few wins. And with Hernandez on the mound for the Knights — and Zapata, Leon, Muniz and the rest of Kennedy’s core at the top of their game — the sky’s the limit for the Knights.

“Stacy is everything. She can hit, she can field, and she is our top pitcher,” Mansfield said. “Everything is kind of riding on Stacy’s back. If Stacy plays well, this team can go to the city championship.”