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Softball

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By Desirée Keegan

The fireworks came a day late for a group of Suffolk senior softball players.

A thriller ensued in a battle between some of Long Island’s best 65 and older softball players. Down 7-6 in the bottom of the ninth inning, Tim Rocklein smacked a pitch to right field with runners on first and second with no outs, and Ed Carney hit a sacrifice fly to score Dave Argenzio in a walk-off, 8-7 thriller as Suffolk edged Nassau in the first-ever Super Seniors All-Star game July 5.

“It got closer and closer, and why get a lead early when you can get the lead and go home?” head coach Paul Killian said, laughing. “I was losing so much sleep afraid that, A, it was going to rain, and, B, it wouldn’t’ turn out right. I couldn’t be happier with the way it ended.”

Rocklein’s game-tying single served as a bit of redemption. The Islip Terrace resident had made back-to-back errors in a four-run second inning for Nassau.

“It’s really wonderful how the team came through at the end,” said Rocklein, a former student of Killian’s at St. John the Baptist Diocesan High School in West Islip. “It was a team effort. We all won.”

The Suffolk offensive onslaught was contagious. Down 6-1 heading into the bottom of the seventh, base hits by John Carmichael and Carney set up an RBI-single for Louis Re. Later in the inning, Mike Cavanagh hit an in-the-park bases-clearing home run to pull Suffolk within one, 6-5.

“We were just hoping to be competitive,” Cavanagh said. “I flew out the first two times, so it felt great to come through with a hit.”

Rocklein said he saw the hit a bit differently.

“You could feel everyone’s spirits go from 20 to 190,” he said, grinning from ear to ear. “It’s an emotional game. We didn’t give up. We were all there for each other, and in the end, we prevailed.”

Assistant coach Victor Scalone, of Sound Beach, said he was impressed by his team, especially considering the Nassau team had three more full league teams to choose from when assembling its All-Star roster. Suffolk pulled off three double plays, with middle infielder Fred Taal helping turn two of them to John Petraglia at first. Catcher Tony Laino, who led off the bottom of the ninth with a single, helped complete the other, which ended a Nassau scoring threat. Tom Gomez went the distance on the mound, also collecting two hits.

“We’re all older players, and we just wanted to look respectable in this game,” Scalone said. “We’ll be talking about this for a long time.”

The assistant coach pointed to the home run by Cavanagh as having ignited the team. Killian, a Holbrook resident, said he’s in awe of what the sport can do for him and his players.

“I feel like I’m 16 again,” he said. “The fireworks were a day delayed, but they’re here.”

Mustangs pitcher tosses complete game shutout, smacks RBI single in 5-0 win over Carey in fourth straight try for school's first crown

By Desirée Keegan

Emma Wimmer had been on the Long Island championship stage before, but this time, she wound up with a better result.

Wimmer whiffed eight batters in a complete game shutout, 5-0 win against Carey for Mount Sinai’s first Long Island Class A championship crown. The Mustangs had been to the big dance the last three seasons, but it seems the fourth time’s a charm.

“It feels nice to get the burden off our back,” said Wimmer, who pitched in relief in Mount Sinai’s 7-0 loss to MacArthur in the LIC last year. “We wanted to get a jump early — keep putting the ball in play — and stay strong defensively.”

“It feels nice to get the burden off our back. We wanted to get a jump early — keep putting the ball in play — and stay strong defensively.”

— Emma Wimmer

Wimmer did both. The starting pitcher struck out her first two batters in the bottom of the first before giving up one of just four hits Carey could muster in the game. In the top of the second, the senior’s RBI single to left center scored the first run of the game. Sam Valenti lifted a sacrifice fly to double Mount Sinai’s lead on the next at-bat. Junior Ilexa Skulnick scored on the play.

The plan was to pitch to contact and keep the ball on the ground, according to Wimmer, but her stuff was sharp, and the swings and misses were plentiful.

“I wanted to see how they were hitting, and if they were behind I would’ve thrown more changeups, but the fastballs worked today, and I mixed it up toward the end trying to keep them off-balance,” she said. “It’s such a nice feeling — getting outs, doing it for yourself. And it felt even better standing on that mound in the seventh inning finishing it out.”

An RBI single by Skulnick following a run-scoring error extended Mount Sinai’s lead to 4-0 in the top of the third. Junior Julia Golino went 3-for-4 and drove in senior shortstop Lové Drumgole for the final run in the top of the seventh with a sharp single up the middle.

Skulnick said this year the team approached the Long Island final with a different mindset.

“We needed to believe,” she said. “So, when you’re at bat, it’s ‘I can hit this ball, I will hit the next ball,’ and when you’re in the field and it’s coming to you it’s ‘I’ve got it,’ and I think that definitely worked for us.”

“We needed to believe. So, when you’re at bat, it’s ‘I can hit this ball, I will hit the next ball…'”

— Ilexa Skulnick

She chipped in solid defense, playing a ball on a hop for a force out at second — just missing a double play — in the bottom of the fourth inning and snagged a line drive for the next out, but she pointed to Wimmer as the catalyst behind the shutout.

“It’s amazing watching her hit her spots,” Skulnick said. “But we all felt loose, wanted to stay loose.”

Drumgole, who went 2-for-3 with a walk, a run scored and a stolen base, grabbed an infield popup to retire the side in order that inning. The senior said the Mustangs hitting is contagious, but revealed she did hide how she was really feeling.

“I was nervous, but I couldn’t show that,” she said, adding that a broken glove in the seventh amplified her worry despite still making her last two catches for outs. “I had to pretend that I was 100 percent confident. But everyone remains a threat for us, especially on offense.”

Finally getting over the hump, Mount Sinai (23-4) will face the winner of Our Lady of Mercy/Iroquois at Moreau Recreational Park in Saratoga County in the state semifinals June 9 at 11:30 a.m.

Wimmer was beaming thinking of the Mustangs making their first trip upstate.

“For the longest time, I thought, ‘What is states?’” she said. “It’s crazy now to think we’re finally going to get to experience it.”

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Mount Sinai scores two wins over Sayville in double-elimination series to win fourth county title

The Mustangs have been on a mission since letting a four-run lead slip away in a second-round playoff loss to Sayville.

While the path the Mount Sinai softball team took this season may have been different from previous years, the outcome was the same. With a 10-3 win against Sayville Tuesday, May 29, the Mustangs earned their fourth straight Class A title with another chance for the Mustangs to grab the elusive Long Island crown.

Mount Sinai’s softball team hoists up its fourth straight Suffolk County championship plaque. Photo by Desirée Keegan

Mount Sinai (22-4) faces Nassau champ Carey (15-7) at 3:30 p.m. Friday, June 1 at Hofstra University.

“This is what I’ve been working for since my freshman year — a four-peat,” short stop Lové Drumgole said. “I was looking to keep everyone’s energy up because I knew we could do it, and I needed to make sure everyone believed in themselves as much as I did.”

It’s hard not to love the senior with love in her name.

She went 4-for-5 with two runs, two RBIs and two stolen bases and accounted for two of the Mustangs’ outs in the bottom of the fourth, one in the fifth and threw out a Sayville runner at the plate to end the game.

“We had to keep the pedal to the metal,” Drumgole said. “I knew the title was ours. They had to take it from us, and I wasn’t  letting go.”

Starting pitcher Julia Golino said she felt like she redeemed herself after her seventh-inning showing in the May 23 8-7 loss that sent Mount Sinai into the double-elimination bracket.

Mount Sinai’s softball team has won three more Suffolk County titles since earning the program’s first in 2015. Photo by Desirée Keegan

“We knew we had to fight back, and we also knew we weren’t going to go down easy,” the junior said. “I wanted to show what I had, because I felt like I let the team down a little bit. This time I wasn’t going to give it up easy.”

Golino scattered 10 hits, allowed three runs with two strikeouts and one walk. She even made several catches on come-backers to help her own cause, like when Sayville threatened in the bottom of the sixth with the bases loaded and two outs. She’d made the first out of the inning, grabbing the ball as it passed her right ear before completing the play at first. A two-run double right after gave the Mustangs a scare of falling victim to the same late-game comeback, but Golino said she quickly shook it off.

“We have big bats,” she said, smiling. “And we make amazing plays in the field.”

The dual threat right-hander also went 3-for-4 with a single, double and triple and two RBIs at the plate.

Mount Sinai’s softball team huddles around Julia Golino after Mount Sinai’s fourth straight Suffolk County championship win. Photo by Desirée Keegan

After Mount Sinai entered the losers bracket, the team beat East Islip, Kings Park and Miller Place to make it back to Sayville. The Mustangs edged the Golden Flashes 3-2 in the first double-elimination game a day prior to force the winner-take-all final.

Holly McNair went 2-for-4 with two RBIs and Ilexa Skulnick finished 3-for-4 with a double, but no one got the crowd going as much as Alaina Reilly. The freshman left fielder smashed a two-run home run in the top of the third to give the Mustangs a 7-1 lead. She said she hesitated for a moment, wondering if she’d really just knocked the ball that deep into right center.

“I felt so proud, and hearing them chant ‘She’s a freshman,’ it’s indescribable,” Reilly said. “We’ve worked really well together, and I’ve felt so welcomed this season — they really are just a great bunch of girls. We were so pumped because this was anyone’s game. Who cares what the stats say, it’s what you do in moments like this that make an impact.”

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Natalie Ardizzone smacks the ball into the outfield. Photo by Bill Landon
Right fielder Dani Badillo tracks down a fly ball in right. Photo by Bill Landon

By Bill Landon

The No. 4-seeded Smithtown West softball team found itself in a hole against No. 13 Lindenhurst that it started to climb out of before the May 15 Class AA playoff game was suspended due to weather.

“We made a couple of mistakes early on, and you can’t do that against a team like that,” said Smithtown West head coach Dave Miller. “Yeah, we’re the No. 4 seed and we won 14 games, but [Lindenhurst] hits the ball much harder than we do.”

The Bulls ended up in a 3-0 hole fast, with two of the runs being allowed on errors. In the top of the fourth inning, the deficit grew to 5-0 before Smithtown West started to rally.

Sophomore Keri Dufficy singled and got to second base on a sacrifice fly before stealing third. Sophomore third baseman Sarah Chapman’s bat spoke next with a drive to right field for a stand-up double that plated her team’s outfielder for the Bulls’ first run.

Third baseman Sarah Chapman throws the ball to first for an out. Photo by Bill Landon

In the bottom of the fifth with two outs, junior outfielder Kristin Horoszewski smacked the ball to right field and was able to stretch out a double. Junior second baseman and outfielder Natalie Ardizzone hit a long fly ball up center field that scored her teammate to trim Lindenhurst’s lead to three runs, 5-2.

Smithtown West’s defense helped retire the next three Lindenhurst batters before the wind picked up and the skies grew dark. A flash of lightening prompted a 30-minute delay, but as the storm picked up referees made the call to postpone the game.

“I think our pitch selection wasn’t as good as it should be — we have to be smart about that,” Miller said. “We’ve struggled with that the entire year. Hopefully we’ll finish this tomorrow, but we have to do the basics
correctly. Defensively we’ve been solid all year, but mistakes opened it up.”

Smithtown West is scheduled to retake the field Wednesday, May 16, and resume the game in the bottom of the sixth. If storms continue the game would once again be postponed to a later date.

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Mount Sinai falls in the Long Island championship game for a third straight season. Photo by Alex Petroski

It took 23 games, but the undefeated 2017 Mount Sinai Mustangs softball team finally met its match in the Long Island championship game. The Mustangs fell to MacArthur, 7-0, June 2 at St. Joseph’s College for its first loss of the season. Sophomore starting pitcher Julia Golino allowed five earned runs, 10 hits and two walks over 3.1 innings to blemish her was-perfect record.

Mount Sinai prays for a rally in the seventh. Photo by Alex Petroski

Mount Sinai’s powerful offense managed just four hits in the final after scoring at least six runs in 11 out of their last 12 games. For a third consecutive season, the Mustangs reached the high of a county championship, only to fall short of a Long Island crown.

MacArthur’s Jessica Budrewicz shut down Mount Sinai with a complete game shutout, seven strikeout performance. She allowed three Mustang hits in the first two innings, but just one more over the final five. Mount Sinai head coach Thomas Tilton applauded her performance in the circle.

“She’s good man — she moves it, she’s got a rise ball, a nice changeup, she hit her spots and she didn’t miss much,” he said. “   Tip your hat to her, she’s a good pitcher. That kid can throw.”

MacArthur celebrates defeating Mount Sinai in the Long Island championship game. Photo by Alex Petroski

The Generals put Golino in a hole early, scoring the first five runs on two-out hits. Golino couldn’t escape trouble in the fourth frame, and junior Emma Wimmer had to come into the game in relief to stop the bleeding. Even a 40-minute weather delay due to thunder and lightning couldn’t cool off Budrewicz and the MacArthur bats.

The Mustangs’ head coach reflected on the impact the team’s three seniors had on the season.

“They left a great mark, a great mark,” Tilton said of the departing group of 12th-graders who helped deliver the first three Suffolk County championships in program history during their tenure. “They’re the foundation of what we’ve built here and hopefully we can continue to do it.”

The Mustangs will be returning all but one starter in 2018, as left fielder Angela Bukofsky is the only regular graduating.

Hailey LaGuidice swings at a pitch. Photo by Alex Petroski

“It definitely means a lot — it’s great,” an emotional Bukofsky said after the game of the three county crowns she’ll be leaving behind at Mount Sinai. She said her teammates were what she will miss most about playing for the Mustangs. “We definitely deserve it. We worked really hard to get here. Going from a record that was about even in wins and losses to being 22-0 is just amazing.”

Though the loss stung in the present, Tilton said he still has a hopeful eye on the future.

“I think we’ve got a really strong team again next year — we’ll be back at it,” he said. Golino and fellow starting pitcher Wimmer dominated all season in 2017 for the Mustangs, and both will be back to try to get over the hump in 2018. Standout shortstop Lové Drumgole, who Tilton called “the real deal,” and one of the best players on the Island earlier in the playoffs, will also be returning for her senior season to give a run at a Long Island title another shot. “We won’t be quitting,” Tilton said. “I can tell you that.”

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The Mount Sinai softball team raises up its championship plaque following a 8-1 win over Westhampton-Beach. Photo by Alex Petroski

Before 2015, Mount Sinai’s softball team had never won a Suffolk Class A title. Now, the county crowns are coming in bunches.

The Mustangs completed their Suffolk schedule a perfect 22-0 with an 8-1 victory in the championship game against Westhampton Beach May 27 at Mount Sinai High School. Junior Emma Wimmer led the way with a complete game, eight-strikeout performance on the mound and went 2-for-3 with four RBIs at the plate — including a three-run homerun in the fifth.

Emma Wimmer throws a pitch. Photo by Alex Petroski

“Couldn’t happen to a better kid,” head coach Thomas Tilton said of Wimmer’s big day. He praised his starter and sophomore pitcher Julia Golino for their season-long dominance in the circle. “We have a two-headed dinosaur here — we have a kid that’s 12-0 and another kid that’s 10-0. So on any given day, either one of them can go, and they do their job.”

Golino served as a catalyst for the offense against Westhampton, chipping in three doubles and scoring two runs in the blowout win. She’s been one of many underclassmen to step up for the Mustangs throughout the course of the 2017 season, and given her age, could be a sign that the three straight championships might only be the beginning.

“I think being younger helped us,” Golino said. “We’ve gained experience through this, and we’re only going to grow through the years.”

Wimmer, who will also be back to make a run at four straight county titles in 2018, expressed a similar sentiment.

“It’s good because you get to work with them throughout all the years, and everyone’s just progressively getting better,” she said. “We’re all growing up together basically.”

Julia Golino hits one of her three doubles. Photo by Alex Petroski

Before Wimmer’s big swing in the fifth, Mount Sinai led 4-1 thanks to two sacrifice flies from tenth graders — one by Holly McNair in the third and another by Ilexa Skulnick before Wimmer’s homer in the fifth — and several baserunners taking the extra base on fly outs and wild pitches. Following the semifinal win, Tilton repeatedly used the word “gritty” to describe his team, and the same toughness and willingness to grind out at-bats characterized the performance Saturday before Wimmer blew the game open.

“We were hitting it hard, they just weren’t falling in,” Tilton said. “It was just a matter of time. They were playing us deep and we were just trying to hit the ball in front of them.”

Westhampton made Wimmer work early on the mound. The first two batters reached on a single and a walk to start the game, but two strikeouts with runners on second and third eliminated the threat in the top of the first. A double and a single to start the third inning got Westhampton on the board first, but Wimmer settled in, allowing only one more baserunner over the final four innings. She retired 14 of the last 15 batters she faced.

Emma Wimmer’s teammates congratulate her after a three-run homer. Photo by Alex Petroski

The hurler said she couldn’t remember a better all-around game in her career, and called it “awesome” to come up with the clutch performance in a county final.

“It was a great feeling, I was so happy,” Wimmer said, reflecting on what went through her mind as the homer sailed over the centerfield fence. “It definitely let some of the pressure off. Having more runs helps when I pitch because you get that insurance.”

Mount Sinai will face McArthur in the Long Island championship June 2 at St. Joseph’s College in Patchogue at 3:30 p.m.

The Mustangs celebrate their third straight county title. Photo by Alex Petroski

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Lové Drumgole greets her teammates following her big home run. Photo by Alex Petroski

The Mount Sinai softball team is on to the Suffolk County Class A championship thanks to a stellar pitching performance by an underclassmen, and a little dose of Lové.

Sophomore starting pitcher Julia Golino shut down Westhampton Beach in a complete game performance in the semifinals May 23, and junior shortstop Lové Drumgole provided the bulk of the offense with a second-inning grand slam to help the Mustangs secure a 7-4 win at home. Mount Sinai will face the winner of the May 26 matchup between Westhampton Beach and Sayville for the right to wear the Suffolk County crown. The Mustangs, who went 18-0 during the regular season, have still yet to lose a game in 2017.

Lové Drumgole rounds the bases after her grand slam. Photo by Alex Petroski

If Mount Sinai were to lose to the winner of the May 26 matchup during the May 27 final, which starts at 10 a.m., the teams will play a final elimination game at a time and date to be decided.

“They’ve been battle tested,” head coach Thomas Tilton said of his team. “You’re talking about a team that was 65-3 over the last three years. They’ve been behind, they’ve been in front — they just lean on one another. Everyday there’s a different hero, and that’s the way they play. It’s a team, that’s all I can say. They’re gritty and they don’t give up.”

Tilton spoke highly of his sophomore starter, who held Westhampton to one run through six innings before surrendering a walk and two hits sandwiched around a two-run error. It created some tense moments for the Mustangs in the final frame, though they held on for the victory.

“She’s a warrior,” Tilton said of Golino. “She got a little tired in the end; she was getting caught on her hip a little bit, but our defense is usually better than that. We stress fundamentals, especially on defense, and we got away from it a little bit, but they collected themselves.”

Drumgole came to the plate in the second inning with the bases loaded and no outs and a run already in during the frame to put the Mustangs ahead 2-1.

“That felt great,” Drumgole said of the grand slam home run which put her team ahead 6-1. “It was an outside pitch and I just hit it where it was pitched.”

Julia Golino tosses a pitch. Photo by Alex Petroski

When asked if the four-run-producing swing relieved some of the pressure the team might have been feeling in a tight playoff game, Drumgole downplayed the significance and said her approach never changes based on the score.

“She’s for real — that’s one of the best players on the island, by far,” the head coach said of his star shortstop and leadoff hitter. “She does it all. She’s one of the cornerstones of the team, so they all look up to her.”

Drumgole and team captain and senior left fielder Angela Bukofsky praised the “youngin” Golino for her toughness in the performance, repeatedly using the word “amazing.”

Golino said she gained confidence after Drumgole’s big swing.

“I think it gave us an advantage, coming out strong, and I think it made us able to stay strong throughout the game and determined — you can’t let up,” she said.

Mount Sinai had chances to put the game further out of reach, but left the bases loaded in the third inning, and left runners on second and third in the fourth. In the fifth inning, with runners on first and third, a line drive to shortstop was turned into a 6-3-2 triple play with Drumgole getting cut down trying to score by Westhampton’s first baseman. Golino recorded the final out of the game with the tying run in the on deck circle.

This version updates the dates and times of the championship games as per Section XI, as changes in the brackets occurred.

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By Bill Landon

Tori Hussey sent Smithtown East into the next round.

Her one-out grand slam in the bottom of the fifth inning broke a 2-2 tie on the way to the No. 6 Bulls’ 7-4 Class AA first-round win over No. 11 Half Hollow Hills West May 15.

“I heard my first base coach saying ‘get out, get out’ and then after that, I heard everyone cheering and then I saw it,” Hussey said. “I knew it was a changeup, and I had to be ready for anything at that point.”

Half Hollow Hills West struck first when pitcher Jillian Weinstein smacked a two run home run over the left field fence in the top of the third. With one out and runners at the corners, the Colts threatened to extend their lead in the top of the fourth when an infield line drive sailed toward Smithtown East’s short stop, but Kyra Dalli snatched it and fired the ball to first before the runner could get back for a double play that ended the inning.

The Bulls battled back in the bottom of the fifth inning — with runners on first and third — when Samantha Swenson stepped into the batter’s box. She jumped on the first pitch and found the gap to bring home Lauren Schiraldi and make it a one-run game.

“I remember them being a good team the last time we played them — they definitely got better as the season went on and that showed,” Swenson said. “But we played our game, we got ahead of them and we won.”

Courtney Hohenberger’s bat spoke next when she ripped a single into the outfield, scoring Dalli from third to tie the game with no outs. After an out, Taylor Bigliani was up next, and showed patience at the plate. She let pitches outside the zone pass her by to draw a walk and load the bases. Hussey had a full count before slamming the ball out of the park, driving home Swenson, Hohenberger and Bigliani for a 6-2 lead.

Swenson added another base hit, sending Schiraldi over to third, and Hohenberger belted the ball deep to bring home Schiraldi.

“Our defense was shaky at the end, but we stuck together, made a few great plays,” Hohenberger said. “[In the seventh inning] I just knew we had to get the outs.”

Starting pitcher Ashley DeGiorgio got into trouble, loading the bases with no outs in the top of the seventh, and sending head coach Glenn Roper to the mound. He decided to stay with his starter, who limited Half Hollow Hills West to two runs before retiring the side.

“They had their best hitter at the plate and what was going through my mind is ‘do I change the pitcher or not?’ It’s a tough decision,” Roper said. “It’s a tough spot to put a kid into that situation with bases loaded and nobody out.”

DeDiorgio struck out four in the complete game win. Swenson went 3-for-4 with a run and an RBI.

Smithtown East will hit the road May 17 to take on No. 3 Deer Park with first pitch scheduled for 4 p.m.

Commack's Danielle Gambino and Michelle Principe blast the ball for the Cougars in their 12-0 win over Northport April 22. Photo by Bill Landon

By Bill Landon

The Commack softball team was hard for Northport to catch up to April 22, after the Cougars went through the batting order twice in the fifth inning, scoring 12 runs en route to a 12-0 nonleague road win.

Commack’s Emily Fox tosses a pitch. Photo by Bill Landon

Danielle Gambino went 4-for-4 with a grand slam and six RBIs and Gianna Venuti went 4-for-5 with two doubles and a triple to lead Commack (3-1) in Suffolk II. Michelle Principe also homered for Commack.

Already up 3-0 at the top of the fifth inning, Commack senior starting pitcher Emily Fox retired the side in order, and her team got to work on offense, which is were Principe started things off by cracking a shot over the left field fence for a leadoff homerun. The ball cleared the adjacent Long Island Rail Road property fence. According to Commack head coach Harold Cooley III, it was the longest home run he’d seen at the Northport field.

“As soon as I hit it, I knew it was definitely gone,” Principe said. “And then, when we hit, we followed through. When we had runners in scoring position, we scored most of them.”

Junior Ariana Arato’s bat spoke next on a stand-up double with no outs, and on missed catch on a pitch, she moved to third. Fox drew a walk, and was replaced by pinch runner Melanie Koster. The sophomore stole second with Gambino at the plate, and the junior ripped a base-clearing triple for a six-run lead.

Up to bat next was junior Stephanie Afonso, who hit a sac fly to bring Koster home, triggering a Northport pitching change. Senior Mimi Cusack took over at the mound.

Northport’s Sophia DeFalco gets the out at first. Photo by Bill Landon

“We started the game off a little slow,” Cooley III said. “The one thing that we’ve tried to execute from the beginning of the year is to make sure we get hits when we have runners in scoring position. We left a few out there at the beginning of the game, but we made adjustments as the game went on and adjusted well to a new pitcher.”

Commack junior Brianna Panzarella smacked in infield ball that rolled toward left field, but safely made it to first on a Northport error. Panzarella didn’t stay long, and stole second without a throw. Venuti singled, , and junior Sabrina Sussman drilled a pitch through the gap to plate Panzzerella with one out. Sussman stole second, and senior Kelly McKenna knocked the ball into shallow right field to score for an 8-0 advantage.

With still only one out, junior Casey Brown kept the inning going for Commack with a single, and Fox, made it to first on a Northport error to load the bases. Koster came in to run for Fox, and Gambino jumped on a pitch that she blasted over the right fielder’s head. The ball rolled to the fence as she rounded second, and got the green light from Cooley, as she made her way around third and crossed home plate for an inside-the-park grand slam.

Commack’s Gianna Venuti underhands the ball to the second baseman for the out. Photo by Bill Landon

“When I got to second and I saw he was waving me on, that’s when I knew,” Gambino said of her productive at-bat. “We’re a very strong team and we came out strong. This was one of our best games, so I’m very proud of my team.”

Because of the mercy rule of being up 12 runs by the sixth inning, the game was called with a 12-0 score. Despite the scoring drought, Northport head coach Janet Richter said she saw some bright spots.

“I was pleased with Danielle Petrunti, our senior second basemen and our first basemen Sophia DeFalco, but we made too many errors,” Richter said. “We worked the pitch count — we were able to get on base — so offensively I think we have room to grow and our infield was very tight today.”

With the win Commack improves to 9-3 and will get right back to work March 24 at home against Patchogue-Medford at 4:15 p.m. With the loss, Northport drops to 1-9, and will hit the road to take on Central Islip March 24 at 4:30 p.m.

“We had some monster shots today,” Cooley III said. “It’s the difference between having a pitcher that’s on and having hitters that are on. Sometimes, the hitters can make a run, and that’s what happened today.”

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Kristina Maggiacomo lays off an outside pitch. Photo by Bill Landon

By Bill Landon

The Ward Melville softball team raked in another win.

With a 2-1 victory over Half Hollow Hills East April 20, the Patriots are pushing for a new program-best record in over 10 years.

Katie Emig throws the runner out at first. Photo by Bill Landon

The team jumped out to a 5-0 start earlier in the season, tying its record from last year, but had hit a rough patch, with a five-game losing streak that ended with a 2-0 defeat at the hands of Sachem North April 18.

Now, at 6-6, the team has eclipsed it’s win record from last year.

“Sachem, they’re a good team,” sophomore pitcher Kristina Maggiacomo said after the loss. “We could’ve come back and we could’ve won.”

That streak snap could’ve come sooner, but Ward Melville gave up two runs that were setup by three errors in the sixth inning.

Maggiacomo, the starting pitcher in both contests, was able to keep the Sachem hitters off-balance most of the way, with an effort from the mound that was well beyond her years.

“I don’t think age matters, but we’re getting better and better,” she said, adding that her curveball worked best.

She had another stellar performance in the win April 20. Maggiacomo struck out seven and walked none in the four-hit contest.

Katie Emig, the only senior on the squad, said the connection the Patriots have is what matters most.

Megan O’Brien lays down a bunt. Photo by Bill Landon

“We’re all very close, and it’s about the team,” Emig said. “It’s all about how much effort you put into it — how much we try and the trust that we all have in each other.”

In the win over Hills East, Emily Bellow smacked an RBI-single in the bottom of the fourth inning to break a 1-1 tie. Bellow went 2-for-3 in the win.

“I came here three years ago, and I said we’re going to change the dynamic to have an expectation to win every game,” Ward Melville head coach Joseph Burger said. “When you’re changing a culture sometimes there are bumps and bruises along the way, but I’m proud of them — they’re coming along, they’re fighting and they battled hard.”

For Burger, that mentality and culture is changing, and is evident with the new program record.

“This is a talented group,” He said. “The most important thing to do is to keep their heads up high, look at the positive things they’re doing. This team hasn’t been in this position for 10 plus years, so we’ve just got to keep pushing.”

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