By Bill Landon
The Bulls were raging, and Taylor Bigliani was leading the way.
The Smithtown East softball team may have found itself behind early, but a fifth-inning rush by the Bulls, which bled into the sixth, triggered the mercy rule for a 17-5 win over West Babylon April 8.
After the Eagles ripped a solo shot home run over the fence in the opening inning, Bigliani, a first baseman, smacked a two-run double that put the Bulls out front for good.
Smithtown East was swinging throughout the next two innings, but West Babylon’s defense was up to task, making play after play to hold off the threats. Smithtown East center fielder Kyra Dalli eventually drilled the ball to right center, driving in outfielder Rebecca Fields with a stand-up double as the Bulls pulled ahead 3-1.
“They had a tough defense, but we got the hits we needed today,” said Dalli, the leadoff hitter who went 5-for-5 on the day. “We were able to work through it.”
With runners at the corners, Smithtown East right fielder Samantha Swenson ripped a shot deep for a two-run double that plated Dalli and short stop Ashley DeGiorgio. Bigliani’s bat cracked next with another stand-up double that scored Swenson from second base for a 6-1 advantage.
West Babylon responded with a triple and a two-run single to close the gap, 6-3, in the top of the fifth inning, but DeGiorgio was able to apply the tag on a runner trying to steal second, to close out the inning. The Eagles would come no closer.
After Fields singled and DeGiorgio found the gap, a fly ball by Dalli dropped in to load the bases with one out.
Swenson cracked a single to right field, scoring Field for a four-run lead, 7-3.
“West Babylon is a good team, but we were good offensively and we hit the ball when we needed to,” Swenson said. “And our coaches give us a lot of confidence.”
After a passed ball on a full count, Smithtown East took a five run-lead. With the bases still loaded and now two outs, Bigliani stepped into the batter’s box. She jumped on a pitch and hit a rocket to straight away center, over the fielder’s head for a bases clearing double and an 11-3 advantage.
“We never gave up, we kept hitting the ball so hard and we had a lot of energy throughout the entire game,” Bigliani said. “I didn’t expect this. I thought we’d be in a very close game, but we jumped on them right away and I’m proud of my team for that.”
West Babylon threatened in the top of the sixth when the team loaded the bases with two outs. On a Smithtown East fielding error, two runners made their way home, but Smithtown East pitcher Marina Amicizia shut the door with the final strikeout of the game.
“We don’t usually play them, so they were kind of a mystery for us,” Amicizia said. “Our team came out there strong and we were ready for anything. We were able to score runs when we had runners in scoring position, so we were very clutch out there.”
Smithtown East, again doing its best work with two outs, got another opportunity in the bottom of the sixth after West Babylon turned a double play. The Bulls’ bats never missed a beat, and after a Savannah Coffelt double, Dalli drove one through the right field gap to plate Coffelt for a 12-5 lead.
“We treat every team the same — we didn’t come in here cocky, but we hit the ball well, we adjusted well,” Coffelt said. “[West Babylon’s pitcher] was a little slower than other pitchers, and we’re not used to that, so I think we adjusted to that nicely.”
Swenson hit the ball over the center fielder’s head, scoring Dalli, and catcher Courtney Hohenberger found the gap to score Swenson for a 14-5 advantage. Again, Bigliani stepped into the batter’s box and belted the ball deep for a stand-up double that scored Hohenberger. Bigliani finished with seven RBIs on the day. Smithtown East third basemen Tori Hussey was up next, and her single drove in Bigliani, before Andrea Lichas knocked the ball through the gap to bring home Hussey for the run that triggered the mercy rule.
“We have a lot of girls that can really hit — they have very fast bats, so we needed to be patient and let the ball get to us because their pitcher wasn’t overpowering,” Smithtown East head coach Glenn Roper said. “My infield played really well, my pitcher did a really good job keeping them off balance, so I’m happy with how we played all around. We got timely hitting when we needed it, we made the plays when we had to and just tried to keep it simple and let the game come to us.”