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Shelter Island softball girls on a run-scoring binge

BEVERLEA WALZ PHOTO Lauren Gurney sliding into home in the girls JV softball game against Stony Brook Tuesday.
Lauren Gurney sliding into home in the girls JV softball game against Stony Brook Tuesday.

The Shelter Island girls JV softball team has started with a bang, outscoring their opponents by a combined total of 43-9 in the first two games. The season opener at the Knox School’s home field on April 13 was a 17-4 resounding win, and the next day the Stony Brook Bears headed to the ferry after a 26-5 defeat.

Coach Ian Kanarvogel has a squad ranging from 7th graders to seniors. The enthusiastic crew is well seasoned from years of Little League games. Coaches Greg Martin, Dave Gurney and Brian Gallagher have nurtured the love of the game since the girls were in elementary school.

Considering that practices had started when there was still snow on the ground, the almost-warm afternoon for the home opener on April 14 felt like a treat. The hometown fans were treated to rock-steady pitching by Shawna Goody and efficient defense. In contrast, Stony Brook pitchers struggled with lack of control and one after the other of Islanders reached base with walks and forced in runs. The first inning was all the Island needed, racking up 10 runs before Stony Brook scored at the top of the second.

Early in the game Coach K had an experienced infield, with junior Kelly Colligan behind the plate, classmate Kenna McCarthy on first, senior Julia Martin at second, freshman Phoebe Starzee at shortstop and junior Margaret Michalak at third. Sophomore Julia Labrozzi was in right field, speedy 7th grader Lauren Gurney in center and freshman Sarah Lewis in left field.

The fourth inning featured solid defense, starting with Stony Brook going 3 up and 3 down. Lauren Gurney caught a fly ball in center field for the first out on the first batter. Starzee scooped up the ball at shortstop and fired it to McCarthy for the next out. Martin calmly tracked a grounder and tossed it to McCarthy to end the Bears’ scoring chances.

In the bottom of the fourth, Gurney started the offense on the right foot, reaching with a base on balls, then quickly stole second, third and finally home on an overthrow to push the score to 17-1. Labrozzi’s solid hit in the fourth inning took an odd hop in the outfield, allowing her to stretch a double into a triple and bringing Goody and pinch-runner Emma Gallagher home.

In the fifth inning Coach K began to substitute in some of his younger players, allowing them to get important game experience. While some miscommunication and bobbles allowed the Bears to add four runs in the last two innings, the determined squad buckled down on defense. Lily Garrison’s pop-up catch and heads-up throw to Abby Kotula at third sealed the win with a double play to end the game.

The next four weeks feature three or four games each, with the season ending in mid-May. The next home game is April 16 at 4 p.m. against the Ross Cosmos. Come down and cheer on the Girls of Spring!