By Benito Vila
The word “twitterpated” wonderfully describes the eager promise of spring; it’s a sudden, enjoyable excitement brought on by feeling free of winter and seeing brand new possibilities. With being twitterpated though there comes an awkwardness that makes the simple impossible and the difficult unimaginable.
And so it was this week as the Pierson baseball Whalers and softball Lady Whalers opened their pre-seasons, optimism and befuddlement sharing one moment with the next. That jittery start behind them, all the teams are now intent on settling into a groove, scrimmages complete for the most part, a set of non-league games scheduled for Saturday and league openers scheduled for Tuesday.
JV baseball opens the non-league action Saturday hosting Southampton in Mashashimuet Park at 10 a.m. Varsity and JV softball are also in the park, each playing Rocky Point at noon. Meanwhile, varsity baseball is away in Southampton Saturday, first pitch there is set for 11 a.m.
League VIII play opens for all the Pierson teams Tuesday against Mercy, the softball teams and JV baseball in the park and varsity baseball away. The softball games are scheduled for 4 p.m. and the baseball games for 4:30 p.m. The baseball teams switch sites on Wednesday, their match-ups with Mercy continuing, the varsity home at 4:30 p.m. and the JV away at the same time.
Too Long Innings
Varsity baseball opened their season in the park last Friday afternoon, finding their fielding giving way to long innings and their hitting falling prone to short at-bats while scrimmaging Southampton. That unbalanced baseball continued again Saturday morning in East Hampton, the Bonackers making the most of extra at-bats and the Whalers letting opportunities get away.
It was at the end of the Saturday’s play, when sophomore pitcher Gavin Kudlak completed a clean and scoreless inning and junior Kyle McGowin drove home the day’s first earned run that last week’s high hopes showed merit. After the scrimmage, Pierson varsity baseball coach Sean Crowley told his team, “We ended on a good note and now we know what we need to work on.”
The positives in the two scrimmages was the work put in by all the prospective Whaler pitchers: T.J. Arreguin, Casey Crowley, Tyler Gilbride, Brandon Kruel, Gavin Kudlak, Joe Mascali, Kyle McGowin and Ryan Miller. Crowley, Gilbride and McGowin also showed poise behind the plate and in the batter’s box, Crowley, notably, finding his way on base four out of six times.
The failure to roll up routine plays on pop ups, slow rollers and force-outs prolonged the Whalers’ time in the field in both scrimmages, early season inconsistency too often taking hold. At the same time, Whaler baserunning broke down several scoring chances and kept the offense from sustaining any pressure on the opposition.
Experienced in the jitters of the pre-season, Coach Crowley seemed unfazed on Tuesday, encouraging his squad after practice, pointing out, “We’ve worked on the things we fell short on this weekend and now we get on the field again tomorrow [hosting Hampton Bays in a scrimmage yesterday] and Saturday [in a non-league contest at Southampton]. We have what we need to win and there’s nothing keeping us from making those our games.”
More Work Together
Lady Whaler varsity coach Melissa Edwards saw her squads’ on-field strengths and weaknesses for the first time in scrimmages against Centereach and Longwood on Saturday. In breaking down the action, she described both, noting, “We were relaxed and just played. We put some kids on base and moved them around. We have speed on the basepaths and that was amazing to see. But, we need to finish. We need to score the runners; we left too many on base on Saturday.”
Tuesday’s non-league opener in East Hampton saw the Lady Bonackers make off with a 9-0 win, two home runs powering their attack. Meanwhile, the Lady Whalers were kept off the basepaths for the most part, totaling just two hits as a team. Coach Edwards said afterwards, “We’ll be working on our offense the rest of the week. Our bats have to come alive if we want any chance of winning the league.”
Coach Edwards also plans on “working with our pitchers and catchers. They need to learn one another a bit better, and hone their skills whether it be pitching or catching.” She remains sure of her team adding, “I know all these kids have it in them. They can all do big things.” When asked whom she has relied on to lead the team, Coach Edwards said, “Sam Federico always steps up and Megan Pintauro has a great persona and the ability to fire everyone up. Lindsay Warne has also stepped it up through her playing ability.”
Inside the JVs
Saturday’s JV baseball game with Southampton will be a re-match of last Friday’s scrimmage that ended in a 5-5 tie. In that contest, Whaler pitchers Donald Doran, Hunter Leyser and Sean Romeo saw their first action of the spring; a Jake Weingartner single scored a pair and a Sean Romeo RBI single kept the game close.
JV baseball coach Henry Meyer likes that his team is “improving everyday on the fundamentals and getting to know what’s going on inside the lines. What we need to keep doing is sustaining our focus for all seven innings in games and all two hours in practice.”
JV softball coach Kathy Amicucci summed up her team’s scrimmages by saying, “We fielded pretty well. We were a little hesitant at the plate and we need to work on our baserunning which we’ve had some trouble doing since we only have 12 on the team.” That lack of practice didn’t slow her girls down Tuesday in East Hampton, Jessica Warne, Kerianne FitzPatrick and Chelsea Freleng all successfully stealing bases.
But that ability to move ahead on the basepaths wasn’t enough Tuesday, one eight-run inning in the field allowing the Lady Bonackers to put the game away, 13-2. Coach Amicucci felt her team “played well in the beginning and the end, but not so much in the middle”. She praised the pitching and composure of Lindsay Duran who “kept her head the whole game, despite what was going on around her. She never looked frustrated or showed emotion. She just kept on pitching, which is what we needed her to do.”