The sun was the only constant between two early season games for the Shelter Island girls’ junior varsity softball team. The March 30 game against the Babylon Panthers was played on a warm and comfortable day. The Monday, April 1 match up versus the Pierson Whalers was cold and breezy.
The Panthers took an insurmountable lead, while the Whalers left the Island after five innings, when the home team kept accumulating runs, getting out to a 12-run advantage and ending the game early.
Coach Taylor Anderson has taken over the reins of the softball program from Jackie Brewer, who retired last year. Ms. Brewer was at the Panthers’ game on Saturday, offering encouragement and advice from the bench.
Coach Anderson’s mother, Joyce Brown, who coached softball at Sachem for years, was also on hand to give pointers to the athletes. Ms. Brewer’s dog Gunny was another guest star, making the team laugh as he scooted beneath a fence into the neighboring yard to retrieve foul balls.
“We are taking the first several games to figure out who works best at what position,” Coach Anderson said. “We’re still working on fundamentals — getting your glove in the dirt, things like that. The team’s very positive and excited.”
The Babylon softball program is always strong, so Coach Anderson was pleased her team hung in for the full seven innings. A nice double play in the first showed that the Islanders weren’t intimidated. Pitcher Dayla Reyes stayed calm and focused, shaking off the pressure.
The Panthers extended their lead by a few runs every inning, but in the bottom of the sixth, Angelina Corbett-Rice fought off the tough pitching, allowing Valeria Reyes to steal home. Isabelle Topliff hustled to second base, taking advantage of a moment of indecision on the Panthers’ part. Corbett-Rice scored to keep the team’s hopes alive, and keeping scorekeepers Jennifer Lupo and Maria Carbahal on their toes.
Katie Gulluscio and Kathy Ramos, who had held down right field and third base respectively during the first part of the game, cheered on their teammates. Babylon won the game 17-3, but Coach Anderson praised the team for keeping a positive attitude.
Against Pierson, Valeria Reyes was in the pitching circle and struck out six batters. In the first inning, Jaime Lenzer scored. Lily Page, who had been hit by a pitch, converted that painful encounter into another run just a few minutes later, as fleet-footed Myla Dougherty outran a throw to first, allowing Page to hustle home. In the second inning, Lydia Shepherd got two RBIs, as Lenzer scored her second run of the game, along with Topliff. Jane Richards’ at bat allowed Bella Springer to score, which stretched the lead to 9-1. In the fourth inning, Sophie Clark replaced Lenzer in right field, and Izzy Fonseca took over center from Page.
By the bottom of the fifth inning, the score stood at 12-4. If the team could score 4 more runs, they could end the game early. V. Reyes walked, then Bella Springer came to the plate. She took a powerful swing and hit the team’s first home run of the season — and Springer’s first of her high school career.
Shepherd and Richards each quickly got on base, and then Fonseca’s lively bat drove in two more runs, giving her four RBIs on the day, and giving the team a 16-4 lead, ending the game.
The joyful team surrounded their coach, got a few words of praise, and then several of the multi-talented students ditched their cleats and hustled to play rehearsal.
The next home game is scheduled for 4:30 p.m. on April 10 against Hampton Bays. Check the weather to see if you need blankets or sunscreen and come see our athletes in action!