By Benito Vila
In the film Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, its stars, Paul Newman and Robert Redford, are pursued by a relentless posse, and in trying to distance themselves, ask, “Who are those guys?” Lady Whaler softball coach Melissa Edwards, in trying to get closer to her team, has been asking the same question.
The Lady Whalers mauled the Lady Mariners last Thursday 14-2 in Mashashimuet Park, a somewhat unexpected outcome given how both teams had been playing against common opponents. Then on Friday, back in the park, the same Lady Whalers went out and lost 9-1 to a Center Moriches squad they had beaten 10-2 earlier in the season.
On Tuesday, Coach Edwards was still flummoxed by the up and down of her team’s performance. “They were so pumped after the game Thursday and then they had no gas on Friday. It was like two different teams, like Jekyll and Hyde.”
Â “It’s not the first time this has happened this season, and it’s hard to know which team is going to show up when we go play. I thought Thursday’s win would be a good lead-in in getting back to the League VIII schedule but it wasn’t.”
After describing some of the struggles her girls had in the field and at bat on Friday, Coach Edwards added, “We need to be more consistent every time we take the field and we need to beat the teams we play from hereon in if we’re going to go anywhere.”
The Lady Whalers go into their last week of games 6-6 in conference play, needing two wins to secure a berth in the county’s Class C tournament. This week’s schedule has the team traveling to Southold/Greenport tomorrow for a 4:30 p.m. start and then to Mercy on Saturday for a 2 p.m. start.
The ladies are home in the park Tuesday, hosting first-place Hampton Bays at 4:30 p.m. Their final game is at Port Jefferson next Friday.
A Seven-run Second
Senior captain Sam Federico stepped into the pitching circle last Thursday, giving freshman Melanie Stafford some relief from her role there, and threw a complete game two-hitter, striking out six and walking two. Federico also pounded a home run to cap a seven-run second inning that put Pierson up 8-0, and allowed the team to cruise to the 14-2 final.
Coach Edwards described it as “a beautiful victory. Everyone did their part to make it happen.” The Lady Whalers were first on the board, Natalie Abbene starting the home half with a single and then coming into score on an infield error.
A walk to Megan Pintauro started the Pierson rally in the second, Abby Gawronski following with a single and Alicia Tagliasacchi with a walk. A walk to Abbene brought a run in and put the pressure on the Lady Mariners, who booted the next ball and then saw the game get away when Kaci Koehne singled and Federico homered.
Pintauro came into score again in the third, singling and then coming in on a ground out. Danielle Schiavoni doubled to open the fifth and Katie Osiecki made the score 10-1 with an RBI single. A Lady Mariner run closed the gap some in the sixth but the Lady Whalers pulled away again in the home half, two walks and two errors and a Koehne double capping the scoring.
A Different Team
Before Friday’s re-match with Center Moriches, Coach Edwards said she talked to her team about “how important it was to clinch their playoff spot right away, against a key rival, but it was like a different group of girls, like the weekend had started already.”
That level of distraction was evident in the field from the start, Stafford striking out a pair, but seeing three errors, a walk and two hits turn into four runs. Pierson’s powerhouse hitting that had been reliable the night before was also missing, the Lady Whalers failing to put anything together until the seventh and scoring just one in that final frame.
By then, the game was all but over, the Lady Devils making the most of an error and a single to add a run in the fifth and a walk and a single to tack on another in the sixth. Two Pierson errors and two long hits helped Center Moriches score three in the top of the seventh and put the game out of reach.
Stafford struck out 13 Lady Devils while scattering nine hits and working around nine errors. On Tuesday, she good-naturedly said, “I did OK, but we didn’t do so well as a team and that’s what matters most.”