By E.J. Yennie
The Pierson/Bridgehampton Lady Whalers softball team came into their first non-league game Tuesday with high expectations after several scrimmages last week left them eager to play. Coach Melissa Edwards expressed her conviction they were ready to start the season.
Facing East Hampton’s Lady Bonackers — last year’s League VI champs — was a tall order, however, with the Lady Whalers falling 4-1.
Alexa Lantiere, led off for the Lady Whalers in the top of the first with a base hit, followed by a walk by Kaci Koehne. But despite a stolen base by Koehne, Pierson was unable to score as the Bonacker defense shut them down, leaving two on.
East Hampton took quick advantage of two field errors and quickly put two runs across the plate. Pierson’s Kasey Gilbride held the Bonackers to two with a tag out at third base to end the inning.
East Hampton’s pitcher, Sam Mathews, retired three Pierson batters in a row in the top of the second. But East Hampton was unable to take advantage in their offensive turn due to a tough Pierson defense; Koehne nabbing a pop fly and a line drive, and Pierson pitcher, Melanie Stafford striking a batter out, leaving East Hampton scoreless in the second inning.
The Whalers came alive in their half of the fourth with Koehne doubling to centerfield. Stafford quickly followed with another base hit. Samantha James singled advancing Stafford to second and sent Koehne home for Pierson’s first run of the season. Rebecca Speckenbach waited out the pitcher for a walk to first, loading the bases. But with two outs, East Hampton’s Matthews quickly ended the inning, and Whalers scoring hopes, with a strike out.
Stafford struck out the first East Hampton batter of the fourth inning. She gave up a base to Kathryn Hess. East Hampton took quick advantage of the opportunity, Hess stealing second. Deryn Hahn singled, advanced and scored on a base hit, making it 4-1.
Pierson struggled to get players on base for the next few innings. It became a fielder’s game, with both defenses not allowing anyone past first.
By the bottom of the sixth, East Hampton was poised to score again with runners on first and second. With one out, Koehne caught another pop fly to eliminate one runner. Alexa Lantiere at short stop snagged a line drive to end the inning.
East Hampton’s pitcher made short work of the seventh inning. Samanth James was thrown out on a bunt, followed by a strike out to Catherine Musnicki and Emma Romeo popped out.
“We played well defensively,” said Lantiere. “I started slapping the ball this year and it has made a difference. I was two for three at the bat — it is easier for me to be up first.”
Over all, East Hampton pitcher Sam Mathews allowed one unearned run, four hits and two walks with seven strikeouts over seven innings. Pierson’s Stafford pitched the entire game, allowing four runs.
“I’m proud of what we did as a team and happy with myself,” said Stafford.
Although the final score four to one left a few spectators disappointed, the players and coach were ready to move on.
Coach Edwards was pleased with the defense.
“Our infield is doing well. We were missing a key player, Nina Hemby, but Lindsay Warne handled the outfield,” said Edwards. “She was a second baseman last year, so it was her first time in the field.”
“We did better than in our prior scrimmages,” said Koehne. “We played more as a team. It was a good eye opener.”
The Ladies will scrimmage away this Saturday against East Islip.
This year the Lady Whalers will be playing home games at the softball field behind Pierson High School. Next week brings them to the home field for the first time against two teams. Tuesday they face Ross/Shelter Island, followed by Southold/Greenport on Wednesday. They finish up their week on the road in Stony Brook.