Pitcher thrown off by prom invitation

A creative sign -- and not from her catcher -- greeted Ramapo (Franklin Lakes, N.J.) pitcher Melanie Psota before the sixth inning of a game earlier this month. Courtesy of Frank Incantalupo

The sixth inning of a scoreless softball game between Ramapo (Franklin Lakes, N.J.) and Ridgewood (N.J.) was just about to start on April 5 when Ramapo junior Anthony Sclafani gathered his nerves, stood up, held tightly to his signs and started calling the pitcher’s name during her warm-up.

Sophomore starter Melanie Psota was focused on her pitches and didn’t hear the “Hey, Melanie” calls from the opposing team’s stands.

Eventually, a loud “Melanie” call by Sclafani made its way to the circle, and she paused to look at her friend holding up two signs. One poster said, “Melanie, will you be my prom” and the other, smaller poster next to it said, “date?”

After reading the signs, Psota smiled, nodded yes, and gave Sclafani a thumbs up, which some fans rewarded with a round of applause.

Relieved, Sclafani sat back down to watch the game and cheer on Psota and her team.

“That was risky,” a Ridgewood male fan nearby commented to Sclafani.

“I know,” Sclafani said.

He was so nervous before the game, he didn’t even realize he was sitting in the opposing team’s stands.

Perhaps that fan had a premonition, because Ridgewood’s batters rallied and scored three runs that inning. After being held to three singles through the first five innings, Ridgewood batters connected with the ball right away and took advantage of some fielding errors.

“Ridgewood had some timely and well-placed hits that inning,” Psota said after the 3-1 loss. “We were able to come back with one run in the bottom of that inning with hits from Alyssa Incantalupo and Caitlyn Hickey, but fell short.”

“I think for the most part we played pretty solid defense,” Ramapo head coach Leslie Stephen said in an interview with NorthJerseySports.com. “Ridgewood put the ball in play and forced us to make some plays, and we did pretty well. Unfortunately we made some mistakes, but that is what you are going to get with a young team sometimes.”

Sclafani left the game before the seventh because he hadn’t been feeling well that day anyway. He texted Psota later that night to confirm, “You said yes right?” She replied, “Yea, sorry that was so awkward.”

The two have been friends since they met on the Ramapo fencing team in the fall. Sclafani said he knew he wanted to ask Psota to prom for about a month and he wanted it to be clever. He learned that she played softball and said he thought this strategy would be cute.

“I was thinking I’d do it while she was warming up,” Sclafani said. “I thought it would be the best time … but apparently it wasn’t because afterwards they lost. I felt bad because maybe she was kind of in the zone and I sort of messed with that a little bit.”

After the game, Psota’s teammates were excited about her invitation to the May 3 dance and joked around with her, saying, "Melanie's going to prom!"

Just a few words of advice for anyone thinking of stealing Sclafani’s strategy. It’s not a bad idea, kind of cute, actually, but both the pitcher and her prom date said it might be better to wait until after the game. Or, if you do it during the game, make sure your prospective date’s team is winning -- by a lot.