By Jesse Rosenthal
The Lady Whalers are on fire. Following a 13-0 home field domination of Center Moriches on Tuesday, Coach Melissa Edwards and her able squad delivered a 10-8 loss to visiting Mount Sinai on Wednesday.
Melanie Stafford pitched a one-hit, no-walk shutout gem against Center Moriches. Her teammates didn’t skimp on the run support. Kaci Koehne went 4-4 in the cleanup position, Natalie Abbene hit 3-4, and Casey Gilbride was a homerun away from the cycle with a double, a triple and two RBIs.
In Wednesday’s game, lively bats, heads-up defense and solid pitching from Stafford in pressure situations gave the Lady Whalers the edge.
Two quick runs scored in the bottom of the first to give Pierson an early lead, and an early display of defensive prowess set the tone for what was to follow. Following a single to shallow center field and a well-laid bunt to advance the runner for Mount Sinai, CF Natalie Abbene made an outstanding sliding stop on a short fly ball to hold the runners at first and second. Heads up defense from Casey Gilbride at third gave Pierson their third out of the inning.
Following a quick three-up, three-down bottom of the second due to solid pitching from Mount Sinai’s Holly Drasser, the Mustangs were able to put some runs on the board in the top of the third. With one down on strikes, Stafford walked one and gave up a double to deep center field over the head of Natalie Abbene. Abbene played the ball well, however, holding the runners at second and third. With both runners in scoring position, Mount Sinai was able to take their first and only lead of the game on one stolen base and two singles to left field.
The bottom of the third marked the turning point, as Mount Sinai watched their last lead of the game crumble beneath the weight of strong bats from Pierson. A walk and an error at second base found two on for cleanup hitter Kaci Koehne who capitalized, hitting a long fly ball over the head of Mount Sinai’s centerfielder, and sliding into third for 2 RBI triple. An error at third, a hard hit line drive off the glove of the pitcher from Catherine Musnicki and a double to center field off the bat of Nina Hemby were enough to score two more making it 6-3.
After a line drive to center field and stolen base from Mount Sinai’s Kelsey Lubin, a hard hit ground ball up the middle made it 6-4.
In the bottom of the fourth, after a well-laid bunt, Natalie Abbene was able to score on a ground ball through the gap from Casey Gilbride.
The top of five saw one run score for Mount Sinai, but not for lack of the smart defense and solid hustle of the Lady Whalers. With runners on second and third, a single to center field found both runners charging home. One run scored but a hard throw from Natalie Abbene, followed by a quick cutoff from Koehne at shortstop and a perfect tag by Musnicki behind the plate got the second runner cold. With two out, Lindsey Warne made one of her two standout defensive plays of the day, running down an almost out of reach infield blooper to end the inning and preserve a 7-5 lead.
One run scored in the top of the sixth by the Mustangs cut the Lady Whalers lead to 7-6. The bottom half of the inning saw three runs scored for Pierson on two singles, and error and a wild pitch. The game was not a runaway, but solid defense and good clutch pitching led to a win for Pierson.
Two Mustang runs in the top of the seventh on two singles and a double turned up the heat for Stafford on the mound. With both runners in scoring position, Stafford was able to strike one batter out and retire the last on a ground ball back to the mound, leaving the Mustangs with two on base and giving the Lady Whaler’s their fourth win in five games.
Coach Melissa Edwards is pleased. “We are doing well all around,” she said. “The bats are finally coming to life and we are playing as a team, completely.”
Next up are two games away. The first at Hampton Bays on Friday, April 16, followed by a visit to Bayport-Blue Pt on Wednesday, April 21.