On April 2 the Shelter Island softball team played the visiting Smithtown Christian Knights.
It was cloudy and cool and the chill increased throughout the game, with sweatshirt hoods pulled over heads and hand warmers shared among teammates. It was the most competitive game of the season to date, a back-and-forth game with neither team willing to concede.
The Knights’ pitcher used a slow-pitch style. Used to a faster, flatter throw, the higher, arching pitch threw the Islander’s timing off, as they anticipated a faster moving ball.
At the end of the first inning, the Knights were up 4-0. During the second frame, the Islander’s defense came alive. In quick succession, third base player Jane Richards stepped on the bag to retire a runner and Valeria Reyes caught a sizzler to center field. Angie Corbett-Rice calmly fielded a grounder, getting a runner out at second base.
Then the Islanders started to get into the scoring column. Isabelle Topliff was walked and with some smart steals, moved her way around the bases, sliding home on a passed ball to score the first run for the home team.
The third inning was scoreless for both teams. Dayla Reyes pitched efficiently.
After walking the first batter, she found her groove, bringing some heat, brushing a batter back from the plate, then striking her out, the first of her four strike outs on the game. The next two hitters couldn’t get good wood on the ball, blooping the ball into the infield for easy outs.
Starting catcher Bella Springer has done a great job of stopping the ball and protecting the plate. In the fourth. Katie Gulluscio was in right field and made a hustling play to keep the ball in front of her and hold a long shot to a double. In the fourth the Knights stretched their lead to 6-1.
Undaunted, the home team went to work. Izzy Fonseca and Myla Dougherty are swinging the bat well. Designated hitter Jaime Lenzer got on base, to load the bases and then 2 runs scored to make it to 6-3. In the fifth, the home team added another run.
Unfortunately, the Knights revved up their hitting in the sixth, stretching their lead to 12-4. Springer challenged the team: “Come on guys, get loud.”
The players complied, with eight players taking the trip to the plate and doing some smart base running. Lily Page’s good eye and patience in the batter’s box caused the pitcher to walk her, forcing a run home. By the end of the inning the Islanders had gained 3 runs.
In the final inning, Lydia Shepherd got two players out with heads-up play at third, holding the Knights to a single run.
In the bottom of the seventh, the team faced a score of 13-7, but they were at the top of the order. Shepherd’s sacrifice allowed D. Reyes to score. Sophie Clark got on base and distracted the fielders as she stole second, allowing Springer to try to steal home. She didn’t get in under the tag, but the courageous running was great to see.
At the end of the game, Smithtown Christian had a 13-8 win, but the Islanders were unfazed. In the huddle after the game, a player commented,
“We lost but it was fun.” Another concurred, adding, “We kind of always have fun.”
Following the game, Assistant Coach Joyce Brown confirmed the athletes’ observations. “This is an awesome group of young women,” she said.
“Everyone is positive, willing to listen and learn.” Sports is about more than just wins and losses, she added, and “they get it.”
The softball team’s season was front-loaded with home games, and are about to head into a long road trip. Their next home game isn’t until after spring break, on April 29, when they will face Wyandanch at 4:30 p.m.