Shelter Island School’s junior varsity softball team’s season, nearly three-quarters of the way through, has been one of extremes.
Wins are often by 10 runs or more; the same with losses. But on April 19, a windy, gray, spitting-rain day, Islip and the Islanders battled through several scoreless innings before the bats of the Blue and Gray were able overcome the Buccaneers’ able gloves.
The evenly matched teams fetured good, fast pitching, some strong hitting and nice work in the field that kept runners wary.
The bottom of the fifth inning brought up the top of the Islander’s batting order, with Emma Martinez Madjisova, Sarah Lewis and Dayla Reyes getting on base. Although Martinez Madjisova was thrown out at second on a fielder’s choice, Lewis and Reyes completed a double steal, setting up power hitter Phoebe Starzee. She blasted a home run to center with teammates and fans loudly cheering as all three rounded the bases.
But the game was not over. Pitcher Lewis worked with catcher Bianca Evangelista to strike out several batters. Katie Doyle held down third until Lydia Shepherd relieved her in the sixth. One run scored, pushing the score to 3-1.
As the game went on players put on more layers against the cold. Isabelle Topliff looked like a Smurf in center field, her blue hoodie tied tightly to protect her chin and cheeks.
Jane Richards and Lily Page traded positions in right field, huddling with teammates on the bench to get warm.
After Islip went three up and three down in the seventh to finish the game, the exuberant team gathered around a grinning Coach Jackie Brewer.
“This was our most competitive game yet,” Coach Brewer told her team. “That was awesome. I’m so proud and I hope you are proud of yourselves.”
The sun broke through even as the last of the showers held on. A rainbow over the field was the perfect cap to the day.
The Hauppauge Eagles visited the following day. It was bright and sunny, although still quite chilly, with a brisk breeze. In another closely matched contest, the game went into extra innings, a first for the home team.
The Eagles were up 2-0 by the second inning, but the Islanders answered back with pitcher Lauren Gurney hitting a triple and catcher Bella Springer earning an RBI as Gurney slid home to get the Islanders on the board.
In the third Dayla Reyes snagged a nice pop fly, a quick strike out and Caitlin Binder ended the inning with a heads up catch at second base on a pop-up that was tailing in the wind.
The Eagle’s pitcher was tough, but the Blue and Gray players were able to read her off-speed pitches, with Starzee zipping a single past third to bringing home Lewis to even the score at 2.
Emily Strauss at third base and Izzy Fonseca in left field had to be alert as the hard hitting Eagles threatened with nearly every at-bat. In the fifth, Valeria Reyes beat a throw to first for a hit. Injured by a hit-by-pitch on her hands, Reyes had to leave the game, with speedy Angelina Corbett-Rice taking her place on first base.
A double play in the sixth resulted from a throw to first and a heads-up throw home Keeping the score knotted at 2.
Going into extra innings, Kathy Ramos went to right field, backing up Martinez Madjisova as she grabbed a line drive by the first batter in the eighth. But the power hitters were lined up and a couple of communication errors allowed the Eagles to grab a 4-2 lead and hold on for the win.
Coaches Brewer and Kelly are pleased with the squad’s efforts to date. With so many athletes it’s sometimes difficult to get everyone significant time in a game, but the warming weather has allowed more time on the field and everyone is advancing nicely.
The next home games are against Smithtown Christian on Friday, April 27 at 4 p.m. and 11 a.m. on Saturday, April 28 against East Islip. The final home game will honor the seniors on the team and will be against Mount Sinai on May 10 at 4:30 p.m.