By Bill Landon
One year ago, the Mount Sinai softball team reached a new milestone, achieving a level of success the likes of which the Mustangs had never seen.
“This is the best softball team Mount Sinai has ever had,” head coach Tom Tilton said. “They won the conference, they won the league and they won the county championship — something that has never been done before.”
Looking to repeat last year’s success, the Mount Sinai softball team went undefeated in its conference for a second year in a row, finishing atop League VI with a 12-0 record, which earned the team the top seed in the Class A bracket.
After a first-round bye, the Mustangs picked off No. 4 Hampton Bays and took down No. 3 Islip, the only team that had beaten them in a nonleague contest earlier in the season, sending them to the loser bracket, only to play the Buccaneers again in the semifinal round. In back-to-back games, Mount Sinai beat Islip for the school’s second consecutive county title.
A year ago, it had never been done before. And this season, they did it again.
Mount Sinai’s roadblock last year was the Long Island championship, and this year it would be no different. The Mustangs faced Clarke at Hofstra University Friday afternoon, and fell 7-1 to end a remarkable season.
Mount Sinai fell behind 2-0 after one inning of play, and the Mustangs struggled to find a rhythm, making a pitching change in just the bottom of the second inning. Eighth-grader Kelsey Carr took over on the mound after Clarke loaded the bases, with the Mustangs trailing by three runs. It was an error-riddled inning, and Clarke capitalized on each mistake, scoring four unearned runs to jump out to a 6-0 lead.
The Mount Sinai bats were quiet over the next two innings, but would get the goose egg off the scoreboard in the top of the fifth.
With runners at first and second, senior third baseman and catcher Sabrina Burrus smacked a sacrifice fly to advance the runner at second to third. Sophomore catcher and third baseman Hailey La Giudice stepped into the batter’s box and battled the pitcher as the count grew full, and ripped the ball through the gap to right field, plating Carr.
With runners on first and second, sophomore Emma Wimmer drew a walk to load the bases, but the opportunity was squandered as the Mustangs went down swinging to end the inning. From there, the Mustangs bats went silent. The team was unable to mount another rally from there.
“We prepared to hit the faster pitching because we know what she brings,” Tilton said of Clarke’s pitcher. “There’s no two ways about it, but I didn’t anticipate making six errors in the first two innings. Today we were very nervous and we haven’t shown that all year. Today that killed us. You can’t give up five unearned runs to a pitcher like that and expect to win.”
Losing only two seniors to graduation, Tilton said he is optimistic about next season.
“We’re a very young team,” he said. “We’ll be back next year.”