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Shelter Island JV girls showing poise and power

BEVERLEA WALZ PHOTO Phoebe Starzee takes the pitch to right field in the JV girls softball team’s win over Smithtown Christian.

Phoebe Starzee takes the pitch to right field in the JV girls softball team’s win over Smithtown Christian.

Shelter Island continued its winning ways under a sunny sky on Tuesday.

The Ross Cosmos have improved, but so have the younger players on Shelter Island who handled much of the heavy lifting in the win. Coach Ian Kanarvogel singled out 7th graders Abby Kotula and Emma Gallagher for both their hitting and fielding.

Kotula grabbed a grounder and shot it across the infield for an out, while Gallagher nabbed the very next ball and got it to Emily Hyatt at first to close out the fourth inning. Amira Lawrence and Alexis Perlaki also got their first solid hits of the season. With all players contributing, Shelter Island outscored Ross 18-4 and racked up its eighth straight victory in as many games.

A week before, on April 22, the skies were gray, the wind was rising and thunderstorms were approaching as the Island and Smithtown Christian JV softball teams, both undefeated, took the unsettled weather in stride, ready for the showdown.

The Island was coming off a great game against Wyandanch, where Julia Labrozzi hit for the cycle during a 32-2 blow-out behind the pitching of Shawna Goody.

Lauren Gurney started pitching for the Island, with Kelly Colligan behind the plate. Smithtown’s leadoff hitter slapped the ball into center where Margaret Michalak caught it for the first out. After a couple of batters walked, Gurney got a strikeout, and there were two away. Unfortunately, she struggled with control, and the patient Smithtown batters loaded the bases and then scored three runs. But the Island girls buckled down and Kenna McCarthy tagged a runner at third.

Shelter Island came to bat, determined to get on the board. Phoebe Starzee’s walk and McCarthy’s single translated into a 2-3 score as Michalak drove the two runners home, but the Knights’ defense quickly closed out the inning.

During the top of the second, the Smithtown first base coach was energetically encouraging his players, “Hannah, dimples, you can do it.” After Hyatt caught a pop-up at first and McCarthy tagged a runner at third, he continued his encouragement, “One hit, one run.” Just like in the first, with two outs, Smithtown got their scoring legs rolling. With bases loaded, the Island coaches added their voices, “Play at first or second.” “Passed ball, play’s at home.” Smithtown added two runs to pull ahead 5-2, but Colligan got the last out at the plate to end the inning, and as it turned out, ended the Knights scoring for the day.

The Islanders were just getting warmed up. Hyatt slid home on a passed ball, and Sarah Lewis and Labrozzi soon followed suit, tying the score at 5-5. Gurney found herself “in a pickle” between bases, and unfortunately twisted her tricky knee and was sidelined for the rest of the game. A combination of walks and hits put the Blue and Gray ahead 7-5 before a miscommunication with pinch runner Gallagher ended the inning.

Lewis took the mound for the injured Gurney and made short work of the side. A strike out, throw-out at first and a great snag by Labrozzi in left field quickly sent the Knights back to the field. In the bottom of the third, the Island added a run to inch up to 8-5. The top of the fourth was similar to the third for Smithtown. Shortstop Starzee snagged a grounder and easily beat the runner at first. A pop-up and a strike-out later and the Knights were done — three up, three down.

The bottom of the fourth was a field day for the Islanders. With the Smithtown pitcher tiring, several players got to base on balls and then the bats got to work. Ten runs were scored, pushing the score to 19-5.

An efficient half-inning later, the last SC batter went down swinging.

As the team gathered equipment under the threatening sky, Coach K was happy. “Our younger girls are really holding their own against the opposition’s older players,” he said. “They learn something new every game.”

With upper classwomen acting as mentors, this team of 20 young women continues to get stronger and smarter. After missing a couple of games at the start of the season, senior Olivia Garrison is back, bringing her positive attitude and athleticism to the team. Alexis Perlaki, in her last season of high school sports, has a strong arm and is always a threat at the plate.

After a 12-2 win against Knox on April 23, the team entered its third and marathon week of four games with a spotless 6-0 record. Their next home game is May 4. Come on down and see them in action!