By Gavin Menu
An emotional rollercoaster ended with a slam Tuesday night for the Lady Whalers softball team. A grand slam, that is.
With a first-place League VIII showdown between Pierson-Bridgehampton and Babylon looming large yesterday afternoon, one thing had already become perfectly clear over the last week.
The Lady Whalers are the class of Class C in Suffolk County.
Pierson easily defeated Stony Brook, 12-0, at home on Friday, capping a festive day in which the team honored local emergency response personnel. Then on Tuesday, the Lady Whalers knocked off Port Jefferson, 8-4, in dramatic fashion after junior shortstop Kasey Gilbride hit two homeruns, the second a grand slam in the top of the eighth inning that gave Pierson a four-run lead.
Sophomore ace Sam Duchemin shut down the Lady Royals in the bottom of the eighth inning and Pierson improved to 8-5 heading into last night’s home against Babylon (9-4), which occurred too late for press time.
A win over Babylon would have moved the Lady Whalers into a tie for first place in League VIII with just two regular season games remaining before the Class C playoffs begin on May 22.
Pierson will host Southold/Greenport on Monday, May 13 at 4:30 p.m. before wrapping up the regular season on the road May 15 at McGann-Mercy. If Babylon won last night, it would need to lose one its last two games for Pierson to have a chance at sharing the league title.
But before any of that could be settled, the Lady Whalers celebrated on the bus ride home from Port Jeff on Tuesday. Playing without starting second baseman Sabrina Baum, who missed the game because of illness, the Lady Whalers struggled defensively but had enough pop in their bats to make up for it.
Gilbride and Duchemin both went 3-for-4 at the plate and Emma Romeo went 2-for-5. Romeo, Lottie Evans and Erica Selyukova all came home on Gilbride’s late-inning grand-slam heroics.
“My heart was in my throat the last three innings,” head coach Melissa Edwards said late on Tuesday as the team made its way back to Sag Harbor. “It was awesome, it was insane. Their field is in a big ditch and Kasey cleared the whole field. The ball probably went 230 feet.”
Edwards wore her heart on her sleeve at last Friday’s appreciation day, where the team honored the Sag Harbor Police Department and volunteers from the Sag Harbor Fire Department and Ambulance Corps, with chiefs from each department throwing out a first pitch. Edwards experienced their work first-hand when her father, Charles Edwards, passed away following a car crash in Sag Harbor last year.
“At the end of the day, if it had to happen, I’m glad it happened in Sag Harbor,” Edwards said about her father’s accident. “It was really nice to just take a step back and honor them. And a lot of our girls, their parents are these people.”
Many of the first responders stayed for the game, which Pierson dominated from start to finish to officially clinch a spot in the postseason, and enjoyed food provided by the team and boxes of Cracker Jacks that were passed out by players during the game.
“Our jerseys had my father’s name on the sleeve because I personally wanted to thank the community for all they did for me last season,” Edwards said. “It was a tragic event in my life, but the love I received and my family received was something I will never forget. This community pulls together when times are hard and they kept me up.”