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Melissa Marchese proved herself in sports, was set to graduate June 28

Shoreham-Wading River senior forward Melissa Marchese battles in the paint Feb. 11. Photo by Bill Landon

A community that has become much too familiar to tragedy was left reeling June 14 as Melissa Marchese, 18, a Shoreham resident and senior at the high school passed from her injuries received in a car crash the day before.

Shoreham-Wading River senior Melissa Marchese During an April 22 Softball game. Photo by Bill Landon

Suffolk County police confirmed her death Saturday,  June 15.

Marchese’s father Charlie Marchese posted a lengthy eulogy on his Facebook page. He called his daughter “… brilliant, she was magnetic,” and said she fought long enough in order for doctors to donate her organs, something she had always wished to do.

“She would light up the room with her smile and make everybody burst with laughter,” Marchese’s father wrote. “Melissa was a remarkable athlete. Fierce, determined, and focused. Just try to slide into her at home plate or try to battle her for a rebound. She did not lose. She was a born leader in all facets of her life. Whether barking instructions on the softball field or leading her friends in a dance or a song, everyone would follow her. She did not lose.”

Marchese was in the backseat of a car turning left onto Route 25A from Miller Avenue June 13. The high school was having its senior honoring ceremony. Another vehicle, driven by Ridge resident Michael Troiano, 34, went through a red light and struck Marchese’s vehicle. The two other students in Marchese’s car, Evan Flannery, 17, and Caroline Tyburski, 18, both of Shoreham, were transported to St. Charles Hospital in Port Jefferson with non-life-threatening injuries. Marchese was airlifted to Stony Brook University Hospital, where she died a day later.

The Shoreham-Wading River school district released statements Friday and Saturday.

Melissa Marchese battles Mount Sinai senior Gabby Sartori for a loose ball under the boards Jan. 22. Photo by Bill Landon

“We extend our deepest condolences to the individual’s family and friends, and we continue to keep all those involved and impacted by this tragedy in our thoughts during this very difficult time,” the district wrote on its website.

Marchese was well known in the district for her work on the basketball court and the softball field.

Adam Lievre, Marchese’s basketball coach, said he would watch Marchese move around the court and be awed at her tenacity. It was that tenacity, he said, that had her fighting death until the time they could donate her organs.

“She was willing to throw her body anywhere and everywhere to get every rebound,” he said. “I’ve never coached a kid who wanted rebounds so badly, and she went after every ball with this relentless effort. It was contagious when the other kids saw how hard she worked, was an example she led on the court.”

He remembered two cases of her caring personality. One was on the court where she saw eighth-grader GraceAnn Leonard get knocked over, and she “sprinted” over to help her up. The other was in the locker room after the team’s heartbreaking playoff 42-41 loss against Sayville Feb. 12. 

“She was sitting right in front of me in tears, so emotional about losing but so thankful, she said how thankful she was to be a part of the team and how great it was,” Lievre said.

Marchese was known as a standout softball player in SWR, having been recognized as All-League in the Scholar-Athlete Team in March and was committed to the University of Hartford for softball.

Once it became known of Marchese’s hospitalization, a GoFundMe page was started, and within a day raised nearly $20,000. By Tuesday, June 17, the site had raised over $60,000.

“Our thoughts and prayers go out to Melissa and the Marchese family,” Joseph Dwyer, the GoFundMe organizer, wrote to the page. “Thank you all for your generous donations during this time of unthinkable sadness and utter despair. God Bless.”

The school district canceled senior finals June 14 and made mental health staff available. The district also invited students to the high school library Saturday for staff to support them.

Melissa Marchese. Photo from SWR School District

Shoreham has become well known for tragedies of this kind. In 2014 the community grieved for Tom Cutinella, who died due to a head injury on the football field. In 2018, the community wrapped hundreds of red ribbons on flagpoles to memorialize Andrew McMorris, who was killed by a drunk driver while out on a hike with his Boy Scout troop. 

The Andrew McMorris and Tom Cutinella memorial foundations both shared their condolences on their Facebook pages.

“No one should ever have to go through this,” a post to the Tom Cutinella Memorial Foundation Facebook page read.

Marchese’s wake will be held at Branch Funeral Home, located at 551 Route 25A in Miller Place, on June 20 from 7 to 9 p.m. and June 21 from 2 to 5 p.m. and at 7 to 9 p.m. Marchese’s funeral procession will leave the funeral home at approximately 9:30 a.m. on June 22. A Mass will be celebrated at 11 a.m. at St. Mark’s R.C. Church, located at 105 Randall Road in Shoreham.

This article has been updated to reflect the name of the eighth-grader who Marchese helped up.

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Smithtown East’s softball team broke out to a two-run lead in the top of the first inning and West Islip answered back in the bottom of the inning in a Suffolk Class AA quarterfinal round May 22, but from there the Bulls bats went silent. West Islip crept ahead scoring a run in the third, fourth and sixth inning to win the game 5-2. In double elimination play the Bulls, the No. 5 seed, went to the loser bracket where they hosted No. 11 seed Lindenhurst the following day in a must win game to stay alive in the postseason.

The Bulls won out against Lindenhurst, and will face Bellport May 25 to see if they will move on in the bracket May 25 with start at 2 p.m.

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It’s been a long time since the Patriots softball team has made the playoffs and it all came down to the last game of the regular season at home against Sachem East on senior day.. It would take extra innings to decide the game but Ward Melville punched their ticket to make the postseason on a passed ball in the bottom of the ninth, winning the game, 8-7.

According to head coach Joseph Burger, the Patriots last postseason appearance was back in 2002. Ward Melville senior Kristina Maggiacomo went the distance for the win, pitching nine complete innings striking out six. Maggiacomo had two RBI’s on two hits and eighth-grader Alicea Pepitone drove in two runs on three hits.

At 8-8 in Suffolk league I, the Patriots will be a low seed and have their work cut out for them as there are four out-bracket games May 18 with the opening round of the playoffs Monday, May 20.

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Smithtown East managed a one-run lead after the opening inning, but the North Babylon bats came alive in the top of the second, scoring three and from there the Bulls’ bats went silent. North Babylon plated two in the top of the fifth as Smithtown East scored a run in the bottom of the second, but it was too little too late as the Bull’s fell 6-3 in a home game May 14.

The bright spot for the Bulls was Sammi Swenson, who ripped a homer over the centerfield fence driving in a run. With the win North Babylon stays atop the League III leaderboard with West Islip in second place and at 11-4 the Bulls are third, two games back.

Smithtown East plays its final game of the regular season May 16 where they’ll host Newfield before they ready their bats for postseason play. Game time is set for 4 p.m.

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Port Jeff sophomore Evelyn Walker from behind the plate in a Royal’s 13-1 victory over visiting Southold/Greenport May 6. Photo by Bill Landon

By Bill Landon

After trailing by a run in the opening inning, Port Jefferson’s softball team had to be patient at the plate and let the game come to them in a league VI matchup notching a 13-1 victory over visiting Southold/Greenport May 6. It was a must win game for the Royals, who must also win the final game of the regular season to make the playoffs.

Port Jeff’s Abby Rolfe, the freshman pitcher, was the spark for the Royals going four for four at the plate, scoring three times with three RBIs, as well as winning from the circle. The victory propels the Royals to 6-7 in league and will lead them to face Mattituck for their final game of the regular season at home May 8.  First pitch is at 4:15 p.m.

 

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By Bill Landon

Miller Place’s softball team was down in runs for most of the game at Shoreham-Wading River Wildcats April 22, but the team rallied in the top of the seventh,scoring four unanswered runs to tie the game against SWR at 11-11 to force extra innings. 

It was Wildcats freshman Lindsay Cahill’s bat that decided the game in the bottom of the ninth, driving home senior Katlynn McGivney to win the game, 12-11, in a League V matchup against their crosstown rival.

Sophomore pitcher Genna Baudo was credited with the win as the Wildcats improve to 3-6 in league. The loss drops the Panthers to 6-3 with seven games left to play before the postseason. The Wildcats will need to win four games out of their remaining schedule to extend their season.

The crosstown rivals will take on two of the South Fork teams April 25, with visiting Miller Place taking the field against East Hampton for a 10 a.m. start. The Wildcats will host Westhampton with first pitch also at 10 a.m.

 

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Comsewogue junior Kayla Goncalves takes a pitch at the plate against visiting West Islip April 16. Photo by Bill Landon

Comsewogue’s girls softball team stayed within striking distance through six innings of play, trailing West Islip by one run through the first five. But the Lions’ bats came alive in the top of the 7th, scoring four unanswered runs to put the game away 8-2. The Warriors scored both of their runs in the bottom of the first but struggled offensively the rest of the way in a League III matchup at home April 16.

The loss drops the Warriors to 2-5 in the league and 2-6 overall at the midway point of the season, with ten games remaining before post-season play begins. Comsewogue is back in action April 23 when they’ll take their bats on the road to face Huntington at 11 a.m.

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By Bill Landon

It shouldn’t surprise anyone when the Mount Sinai Mustangs girls softball team, who made it to the final four last season in the Class A state championship round, trounced visiting John Glenn, 14-1, halting play after just five innings.

Mount Sinai senior Holly McNair, a standout in the Mustangs’ Long Island championship basketball team, went three for four and drove in three runs. Senior Ilexa Skulnick plated two runners and senior pitcher Julia Golino went the distance allowing one run along with 12 strikeouts. The Mustangs have allowed only two runs through three games in this early season letting their bats do the talking by putting up 56 runs.

The Mustangs retake the field when they travel to take on crosstown rival Miller Place April 4. 1st pitch is set for 4 p.m.

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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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