Fifteen and zero are nice numbers. Put them together and add an exclamation mark and you have the Shelter Island JV softball team’s 2015 undefeated season.
Tuesday afternoon, behind the excellent pitching of Shawna Goody and Kelly Colligan’s 5 RBIs, the Island girls closed out their historic season, beating rivals Smithtown Christian 29-8 on the Knights’ home field.
The final game came just a day after the team had a great senior send-off and picture perfect last home game against the Ross School. The sun was warm, the grill was set up for post-game festivities and music was playing. Before the game, Coach Ian Kanarvogel praised the leadership of senior Julia Martin. “Julia is like a divining rod,” Coach K said. “She always finds the good in other people.”
Fans enjoyed the warm sun and chuckled as the Star Wars “Evil Empire” theme played while Ross got ready to head to the plate. The visitors showed some early gumption, taking advantage of a couple of walks from pitcher Lauren Gurney to load the bases before she struck the final two batters to strand three runners and get out of the inning without allowing a run.
In the home first, the Ross pitcher put up high, loopy pitches that the Islanders took advantage of with multiple base hits. Phoebe Starzee was back as her intimidating presence at the plate and Alexis Perlaki and Holly Ross each got nice hits and hustling to get on base.
Kenna McCarthy was the power hitter of the day, getting the first of two triples and an inside-the-park home run during this inning. The team went batted around nearly twice before the Cosmos’s gloves got busy and ended the inning with the Island girls with a healthy 13-0 lead.
Town Supervisor Jim Dougherty was in the stands, along with School Superintendent Leonard Skuggevik and PE director Todd Gulluscio.
In the top of the 2nd, Gurney showed good speed on her pitches, but struggled a bit with her location. Ross had several players on base due to walks and then demonstrated that they’ve learned a bit about running bases this season. They scored 4 runs to close the gap a little.
Julia Martin and Kenna McCarthy answered the Ross runs, each hitting triples in the bottom of the 2nd to drive in 4 more runs, stretching the lead to 17-4.
Sarah Lewis took over pitching duties from Gurney during the third inning, striking out two while allowing one run. With the Islanders back at the plate, Abby Kotula’s heads-up pinch running for catcher Melissa Frasco got that run back.
The top of 4th was quick. Back-to-back-to back excellent defensive plays made short work of Ross’s at bats. Kotula’s throw from third was scooped up by a great stretch from Emily Hyatt at first. Julia Martin’s backhand snagged a sharply hit Ross ball and she wheeled and beat the runner at first by a half-step. Hyatt charged a short hit, catching the looping ball and ending the inning.
As “Uptown Funk” serenaded the Islanders in the bottom of the 4th, they readied for more hits. Domily Gil had a strong base hit down the third base line to start the inning. Amira Lawrence’s RBI got Gil home, while Lily Garrison and Emily Strauss took advantage of a couple of Ross errors to get aboard. Nicolette
Frasco hit a strong ball out of the infield to drive in another run, and the score stood at 22-5.
Lewis buckled down in the 5th, grabbing a weak hit and tossing it to first for an out. She took charge with two strike-outs to end the game in a mercy ruling.
The jubilant team shook hands with the Ross athletes, then gathered for a field-side party. With the smells and sizzles of hot dogs and hamburgers grilling, Julia Martin donned a backwards helmet to shield her eyes while swinging at a softball-shaped piñata. As it broke open, beads, fruit, candy and trinkets spilled on the ground adding to the celebration of the final home game.
After the win, with Mardi Gras beads draped around her neck, a still emotional Martin had a message for the athletes on her team, “It has been an honor and privilege to play with these girls,” she said. “I will miss them more than anything in the world. Thank you!”
A pleased Coach K praised the team for its season-long focus on improving with each practice and game, as well as having fun. That potent mix of determination and spirit will serve them well when the team makes the jump to the varsity level next year.
Sunshine, wins and unbeatable (literally) memories — it doesn’t get better than that. Congratulations on a spectacular season, girls!