03/19/15 5:00pm
03/19/2015 5:00 PM
Southold/Greenport catcher Rosemary Volinski is one of the veterans among a turnout of about 36 players. (Credit: Garret Meade)

Southold/Greenport catcher Rosemary Volinski is one of the veterans among a turnout of about 36 players. (Credit: Garret Meade)

PREVIEW

Quantity can lead to quality in high school softball. The more players a coach has to choose from, the better a team’s chances for winning. Large numbers can produce a big number in the win column.

Numbers are what coach Lori Marra saw when she walked into the Southold High School gym last week for Southold/Greenport’s first practice. Over 30 players had gathered. The turnout surprised Marra and some of the players themselves.

Where did all these players come from? (more…)

03/27/14 9:10pm
03/27/2014 9:10 PM
Lisa Angell came within one out of a perfect game. The Mattituck junior delivered a career-high nine strikeouts in her one-hit shutout of Stony Brook. (Credit: Garret Meade)

Lisa Angell came within one out of a perfect game. The Mattituck junior delivered nine strikeouts, matching her career high, in her one-hit shutout of Stony Brook. (Credit: Garret Meade)

TUCKERS 24, BEARS 0 (5 INNINGS)

On a brutally cold day that was far from perfect, Lisa Angell came agonizingly close to perfection.

The Mattituck pitcher was on the verge of tossing a perfect game on Thursday. All that stood between Angel and perfection was Stony Brook’s Sydney Dunn. (more…)

03/20/14 3:00pm
03/20/2014 3:00 PM

Utility player Jessica Rizzo is one of Southold/Greenport’s four returning seniors. (Credit: Garret Meade, file)

Lori Marra hears her players talking, and she likes what she’s hearing.

“They’re talking about winning games,” the Southold/Greenport high school softball coach said. “That is something that we had to get to the point where now we know we can win.”  (more…)

03/07/14 8:04pm
03/07/2014 8:04 PM
One of Mattituck's new players, Julia Orlando, catching a popup to second base during Friday's practice. (Credit: Garret Meade)

One of Mattituck’s new players, Julia Orlando, catching a popup to second base during Friday’s practice. (Credit: Garret Meade)

The Mattituck High School softball field was populated by a lot of new faces, a lot of young faces. And, in the case of at least one player, a muddied face.

That muddied face belonged to Caralee Stevens, the third baseman who toiled in an especially muddy patch along the base path leading to home plate. One could tell that Stevens had a workout just by glancing at her attire. After Friday’s practice, the junior looked as if she had completed football practice, with mud on her face, her shirt and her sweatpants.

“Yeah, it was a little muddy out today,” she said.

But Stevens wasn’t complaining and neither were her teammates, including first baseman Ashley Perkins, who was caked in mud herself.

Coach Kelly Pickering said it’s a good sign that her players aren’t afraid to hit the ground (in this case, hard, frozen ground on a bitterly cold afternoon) and get dirty. As young as the Tuckers are, work ethic is as important as ever for them.

Having lost nine of their 11 players from last year’s team to graduation, Mattituck is undergoing a major rebuilding job. Aside from two returning starters, pitcher Lisa Angell and center fielder Val Hommel, only two other Tuckers have ever worn a varsity uniform before. Stevens played a couple of varsity games last year and Rachel Voegel, a catcher, was pulled up for the playoffs.

Hommel is the team’s only senior. At the other end of the spectrum is Perkins, a seventh-grader, and Ashley Chew, an eighth-grade shortstop.

“We’re a younger team this year,” Voegel, a sophomore, said. “We’re just trying to build back up. A lot of seniors left last year, so it’s about rebuilding.”

Pickering said it helped knowing a year in advance that this youth movement was coming. Former junior varsity players must now adjust to the challenges of the varsity game.

“It’s a big jump from J.V. to varsity, so we’ll how it goes,” said Voegel.

Pickering said: “There’s a lot that’s got to go into this. It’s understanding plays, understanding the level of play that they’re now playing at and rising up to.”

Aside from Angell and Stevens, the team has five other juniors: second baseman Julia Orlando, outfielder Constantina Leodis, outfielder Alyssa Parks, infielder/outfielder Marisa Sannino and outfielder Alyssa Scartozzi. Two sophomores, Katerina Hatzinikolaou and Allie Becker, are vying for outfield positions.

Last year, with a senior-loaded team, Mattituck petitioned its way into the playoffs. The Tuckers lost to Center Moriches and Hampton Bays in the double-elimination Suffolk County Class B Tournament, finishing with a 6-13 record.

This time around, however, the approach is different.

“I think my expectations have to be a little bit different,” Pickering said. “Last year I came in knowing the potential that we had. I knew that we had a good shot at playoffs. I’m not going to say playoffs are out of reach for us, but we’re going to have to work even more than we did last year, and it’s getting the kids to realize the prize at the end when we get there.”

“We’re rebuilding, so it’s good for the program,” she continued. “We’ll start them young. They’ll get the experience, and by the time some of them are juniors and seniors we should be pretty strong, hopefully.”

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05/13/13 7:31pm
05/13/2013 7:31 PM
GARRET MEADE PHOTO | Mattituck's Melissa Siegfried follows the path of her drive to center field. Mattituck bats produced 12 hits against Southampton.

GARRET MEADE PHOTO | Mattituck’s Melissa Siegfried follows the path of her drive to center field. Mattituck bats produced 12 hits against Southampton.

TUCKERS 7, MARINERS 1

Along with the bats, the balls, the gloves and the batting helmets, the word was spread to bring one more item for what was probably the Mattituck softball team’s final home game of the year: tissues.

The Tuckers have seven seniors, all regular starters, many with deep roots in the program. Emotions and tears were expected to be flowing for Monday’s pregame Senior Day ceremony.

“It was kind of like an emotional day, the whole day,” one of those seniors, catcher Brittany Tumulty, said. “Everyone’s, you know, not dreading coming here, but didn’t want to put an end to something.”

With that in mind, Mattituck coach Kelly Pickering figured it would be wise to make the ceremony as brief as possible.

“I’m very lucky that it wasn’t a crying-fest before, which was why I kept our little ceremony very brief,” she explained. “We kept it short and sweet just to get them through it. I didn’t want them too emotional before the game.”

As it was, the Tuckers did quite well, keeping control of their emotions as they received flowers and hugs from Pickering.

“Everyone thought we were going to cry and get upset,” senior third baseman Alexa Orlando said. “We held it together.”

Then they did quite well keeping control of the game. Sara Perkins registered 12 strikeouts en route to tossing a four-hitter in a 7-1 defeat of Southampton. The senior right-hander allowed three walks.

Two other Mattituck seniors, Orlando and Courtney Ficner, drove in two runs each. Orlando went 3 for 4, scored two runs and stole a base. Ficner had a steal to go with her two hits for Mattituck (6-10, 6-9 League VII), which scored five runs over its final three innings at bat.

GARRET MEADE PHOTO | One of Mattituck's seven seniors, catcher Brittany Tumulty, hugs coach Kelly Pickering during a pregame Senior Day ceremony.

GARRET MEADE PHOTO | One of Mattituck’s seven seniors, catcher Brittany Tumulty, hugs coach Kelly Pickering during a pregame Senior Day ceremony.

With one regular-season game left on Wednesday at Bayport-Blue Point, Mattituck hasn’t abandoned hope for a playoff berth. Pickering said she would like to petition for a playoff spot.

Mattituck’s entire starting infield of first baseman Ficner, second baseman Cassie Pelan, shortstop Melissa Siegfried and Orlando will be graduating along with Perkins, Tumulty and right fielder Jackie Jones. They have been described as a close group, as has the entire team.

Asked what she will remember most about her seniors, Pickering replied tongue in cheek, “How much they drove me crazy.”

On a more serious note, she said, “I will miss them tremendously.”

The seven seniors will have fond memories of their final home regular-season game. It was one of the team’s most well-played games of the season. Mattituck outhit Southampton, 12-4, and did not make an error.

A run-scoring single by Caroline Rumph in the first inning spotted Southampton a 1-0 lead.

Orlando poked a two-out, two-run single to right field in the second to put Mattituck ahead, 2-1.

That was the first of three two-run innings for Mattituck. In the fourth, Ficner looped a two-out, two-run single to right. Siegfried and Orlando singled in the sixth before they both later scored on the same play from a throwing error.

In between those two innings was Val Hommel’s run-scoring double in the fifth.

Chloe Schmidt had two hits for Southampton (3-13, 3-12), which suffered its fifth loss in a row and sixth setback in seven games.

“We did not hit,” said Southampton coach Virginia McGovern.

Asked if her team’s four hits were on the low side, she answered: “No. Unfortunately, that’s pretty much the average. We can’t put three or four hits together to get runs in. We squandered some opportunities with the baserunners in scoring position.”

Southampton went 8-9 last year, missing the playoffs by one game. The Mariners lost nine players (including eight starters) from that team, have had to endure injuries, and have also had to do without a junior varsity team this season.

“We were without some key people all season,” said McGovern.

Mattituck could find itself in the same position next year, facing a rebuilding project. This season, however, has been “definitely a step moving forward in every way,” said Pickering.

Ficner, who along with Perkins are the team’s only four-year varsity players, said: “We never really gave up on our team even though we didn’t really win a lot of games in the past years. We all just came back and wanted to play. We all played as a team. … We stuck by each other.”

And they put up a brave face Monday as they watched their days as Tuckers start to wind down.

“Everyone thought they were going to bawl their eyes out but everyone managed to hold themselves together because we still have Wednesday,” Tumulty said. “That should be a real waterworks show.”

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05/02/13 6:53pm
05/02/2013 6:53 PM
GARRET MEADE PHOTO | Southold/Greenport's Jessica Rizzo was tagged out at home plate by Mattituck catcher Brittany Tumulty for the game's final out.

GARRET MEADE PHOTO | Southold/Greenport’s Jessica Rizzo was tagged out at home plate by Mattituck catcher Brittany Tumulty for the game’s final out.

TUCKERS 1, CLIPPERS 0

Before the North Fork’s two high school softball teams, Southold/Greenport and Mattituck, played their only game against each other this year on Thursday, Mattituck catcher Brittany Tumulty suggested a name for the game. “The North Fork championship game,” she dubbed it.

The fictitious title goes to the Tuckers, by the slimmest of margins.

Mattituck shortstop Melissa Siegfried threw Southold/Greenport’s Jessica Rizzo out at home plate for the final out of the game, preserving a 1-0 triumph for the Tuckers at Mattituck High School.

“I just saw the flash of red going home, and everyone was screaming,” said Siegfried.

In winning, Mattituck (4-8, 4-7 League VII) kept alive its slim playoff chances. The Tuckers would need to win their remaining five regular-season games in order to reach the postseason.

The League VII/League VIII crossover game’s only run, from the first inning, stood up on a day when hits were hard to come by. An infield single by Siegfried, followed by walks to Tumulty and Courtney Ficner, loaded the bases for Sara Perkins, who delivered a sacrifice fly for the score.

Then the pitchers clamped down. Perkins had a one-hitter going for much of the game before Southold/Greenport came up with two hits in the seventh. Rizzo chopped an infield single that had the effect of a bunt, beating Perkins’ throw to first base. Rizzo went on to steal second base. One out later, Alexandra Small bounced a single up the middle and Southold/Greenport coach Lori Marra sent Rizzo home on the play.

“I had to go for it,” Marra said. “Honestly, [hits] were so hard to come by, I didn’t know if we were going to get another opportunity so, hey, I don’t regret it.”

Siegfried collected the ball and fired an accurate throw to Tumulty, who blocked the plate and tagged Rizzo out to end it.

“I just tried my hardest,” Rizzo said. “It was pretty close.”

Perkins, coming off a no-hitter against The Stony Brook School two days earlier, was sharp again. She allowed three hits and recorded nine strikeouts, two shy of her season-high. And then there was the statistic that the Tuckers had to love: no walks.

“I think she pitched great today,” Marra said. “Clearly, we weren’t hitting off her much, so that says a lot for itself because we have been improving so much with our hitting.”

Perkins retired the first 10 batters before finally conceding a hit when Kim Bracken whacked a double past left fielder Lisa Angell.

Mattituck scratched out four hits against pitchers Sarah Tuthill and Courtney O’Sullivan. In addition to Siegfried, Cassie Pelan, Perkins and Val Hommel also singled for the Tuckers.

“We had some shots,” Mattituck coach Kelly Pickering said. “We were hitting the ball hard. Unfortunately for us, but fortunately for them, they were in the spots that they needed to be in. We definitely drove some balls deep. The bats were working, it was just unfortunately to everybody.”

Because Southold/Greenport (3-8, 3-8 League VIII) was playing the third of four games in four days, Marra opted to start Tuthill, a sophomore, and give O’Sullivan, the team’s No. 1 pitcher, some rest. Tuthill pitched the first three innings before O’Sullivan, a senior, relieved her, giving up only one hit over three innings. O’Sullivan had tossed a five-hit shutout the day before in a 6-0 win over Port Jefferson.

Speaking about the game against Mattituck, Rizzo said: “It was a tight, close game. We figured it was going to be close.”

Adding spice to the game was the familiarity among the players from the two neighboring teams.

“We wanted to win so badly because we heard the chatter from them and they heard the chatter from us,” said Siegfried.

Siegfried said it was probably Mattituck’s most exciting game of the season. Perhaps it was a little too close and a little too exciting for Pickering’s liking, but the coach had to like how Siegfried played, especially in the clutch.

“Like everybody else, she goes through ups and downs, but she’s one of the more consistent offensive and defensive players that we have,” Pickering said. “She’s definitely reliable. If I need her to bunt, she’ll lay one down. Whatever you need, you’re going to get out of her.”

After the game, after all of her teammates had left the field, Siegfried recounted the thrilling ending, and what it meant to the Tuckers.

“It was intense,” the heroine with the walk-off assist said. “We proved to ourselves that we can hang in there.”

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GARRET MEADE PHOTO | Mattituck shortstop Melissa Siegfried snagging the ball before throwing home for the game-ending out.

GARRET MEADE PHOTO | Mattituck shortstop Melissa Siegfried snagging the ball before throwing home for the game-ending out.

04/29/13 7:35pm
04/29/2013 7:35 PM
GARRET MEADE PHOTO | Mattituck senior Sara Perkins pitched her first career no-hitter in the same game in which she slugged her first career home run.

GARRET MEADE PHOTO | Mattituck senior Sara Perkins pitched her first career no-hitter in the same game in which she slugged her first career home run.

TUCKERS 22, BEARS 0 (5 INNINGS)

Mattituck pitcher Sara Perkins picked up an error in the second inning, but it worked out for her in the end. She gained a no-hitter.

Perkins tossed her first career no-hitter on Monday ­— and came so close to a perfect game — when the visiting Tuckers beat The Stony Brook School, 22-0, in a League VII/League VIII crossover game that was stopped after five innings because of the mercy rule. The senior right-hander, who also hit her first career home run in the game, recorded seven strikeouts and did not issue a walk. She induced three flyouts and five groundouts.

“I can’t remember [a game in which] I pitched much better,” she said.

Perkins was thisclose to being perfect.

The only Stony Brook base runner came in the second inning when Linnea Piazza drove the ball between Perkins’ legs and through the infield. Although some saw it as a hit, it was ruled an error, keeping Perkins’ no-hitter intact.

There were no other serious threats to the no-hit bid as Perkins retired the next 10 Bears in order.

“She looked really good today, really great, like no walks,” Mattituck left fielder Lisa Angell said. “She had great stats today.”

Perkins said the thought of whether or not she had pitched a no-hitter didn’t occur to her until after Nicole Willoughby grounded out to first baseman Courtney Ficner for the game’s final out.

Perkins said: “At the end of the game, the thought kind of crossed my mind, and I guess it all came down to, I was thinking: ‘Was that an error or a hit? I think it was an error. It went through my legs,’ so I was kind of hoping it was an error.”

Mattituck coach Kelly Pickering, who did not know the last time the Tuckers pitched a no-hitter, said there was no question that the ball Piazza hit produced an error and not a hit.

What made the game undoubtedly extra special for Perkins was her home run, a three-run blast over the short fence in right field during a devastating third-inning rally. Melissa Siegfried, Brittany Tumulty and Ficner opened the inning with successive singles before Perkins stepped into the batter’s box with two runners on base. A glance at the short porch in right field may have put a thought into her head.

“I saw that fence,” she said. “I was like: ‘Hmmm. It’s kind of close.’ ”

The homer underscored Perkins’ ability to hit, as well as pitch.

“She spends a lot of time in the cage,” Pickering said. “She got off to a slow start [this season], and she’s come around and probably has been one of my more consistent hitters throughout the season.”

The only run Mattituck (3-8, 3-7 League VII) needed in the game between the two last-place teams in their leagues was scored by Siegfried on an errant throw in the first inning.

Mattituck didn’t register its first hit until the third inning, but then more than made up for it. The Tuckers made 18 plate appearances that inning, scoring 14 runs on eight hits, five walks and three errors for a 15-0 lead. The long rally also featured a three-run double by Angell.

Angell and Perkins had four runs batted in each for the game. Siegfried went 3 for 3, scored five times, drove in a run, doubled, stole two bases and walked twice.

Altogether, the Tuckers totaled 11 hits, took 15 walks (four by Ficner) and stole nine bases (three by Cassie Pelan) as they snapped a four-game losing streak. Eight of the nine Mattituck batters managed at least one hit. The win had to be good for their psyche.

“It’s huge for us because we’ve been not playing as well as we should be the past couple of games,” Perkins said. “We’ve been losing ones we should win, so the fact that we were able to come out on top today really helped us a lot.”

Pickering said: “We were in a little bit of a slump. We lost some games we should have won. You know, this was one that we needed.”

It was the ninth straight loss for Stony Brook (1-11, 0-11 League VIII).

In order to qualify for the playoffs, Mattituck would have to win out the remaining six games on its schedule, no easy task, to be sure.

“That would be a tall order, not impossible, but it’s going to be a lot of work,” said Pickering.

After the game, Perkins’ father, Rich, flipped the home-run ball to his daughter. A souvenir. The latest addition to her trophy case has a neat story to go with it.

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GARRET MEADE PHOTO | Stony Brook's Hannah Abrahamsen covered third base, but Mattituck's Melissa Siegfried was safe on the play.

GARRET MEADE PHOTO | Stony Brook’s Hannah Abrahamsen covered third base, but Mattituck’s Melissa Siegfried was safe on the play.

04/05/13 6:58pm
04/05/2013 6:58 PM
GARRET MEADE PHOTO | Shoreham-Wading River's all-time strikeout leader, Chelsea Hawks, recently tied her school record for strikeouts in a game (20). She fired 15 strikeouts against Mattituck on Friday.

GARRET MEADE PHOTO | Shoreham-Wading River’s all-time strikeout leader, Chelsea Hawks, recently tied her school record for strikeouts in a game (20). She fired 15 strikeouts against Mattituck on Friday.

WILDCATS 2, TUCKERS 0

Chelsea Hawks has only one letter “k” in her name, but she had 20 Ks after her name the other day.

Shoreham-Wading River’s softball coach, Christina Shiffman, said she can tell early in a game if Hawks, her standout pitcher, is on or not. There was no question that she was on Wednesday. Hawks mowed down one Bayport-Blue Point batter after another before finishing with 20 strikeouts and a 5-1 victory. That equaled the school mark of 20 strikeouts in a game she set last year against Mount Sinai. It’s a remarkable achievement, especially considering there are only 21 outs in a seven-inning high school game.

Hawks said she didn’t realize she had that many strikeouts until after the game when assistant coach Ed Price told her. She also learned that she had become Shoreham-Wading River’s all-time strikeouts leader, passing Keri Bettenhauser.

On Friday, Hawks pretty much picked up where she left off two days earlier, The senior recorded 15 strikeouts in a 2-0 win over visiting Mattituck in a double two-hitter. Her former teammate, Sara Perkins, pitched for the Tuckers.

With her tally from Friday’s game, Hawks (3-1) has 533 career strikeouts. She has registered 48 strikeouts in the last 19 innings.

“Every time we watch Chelsea pitch, she does a great job,” Shoreham-Wading River coach Christina Shiffman said. “It’s fun to just watch her break some records and really make her mark here at the school. She just keeps getting better and better. That’s great for us.”

GARRET MEADE PHOTO | Brittany Tumulty of Mattituck making contact on a pitch from Shoreham-Wading River's Chelsea Hawks.

GARRET MEADE PHOTO | Brittany Tumulty of Mattituck making contact on a pitch from Shoreham-Wading River’s Chelsea Hawks.

The right-hander, who is headed to Molloy College, struck out every Mattituck batter she faced at least once and five multiple times. She did not allow a walk. Hawks caught the Tuckers looking at called third strikes on four occasions and fanned six straight batters during one stretch.

“It was warm out,” Hawks explained. “It’s always a good day when it’s warm.”

Perkins, a senior right-hander, did not allow an earned run, struck out seven and walked none. She called it her best outing in a while, crediting catcher Brittany Tumulty for framing pitches for called strikes. “My curveball was working very well,” she said.

Perkins didn’t seem fazed, either, after Shoreham-Wading River’s first batter, Caitlin Mirabell, socked a hard-hit ball that struck the inside of her right thigh, near her knee, in the first inning.

Asked to assess Perkins’ pitching, Mattituck coach Kelly Pickering said, “Spot on, probably the best I’ve seen her pitch so far.”

When they were youngsters, Hawks and Perkins both played for the Long Island Sharks travel team, and their softball paths have crossed more than once ever since. On Friday, they ended up in a pitchers’ duel.

Hawks had something, though, that Perkins didn’t. She had an errorless defense behind her. Mattituck made five errors, and that made the difference.

Both of Shoreham-Wading River’s runs in the fifth inning were unearned. Erin Whelan, who started things off by reaching base on a misplayed fly ball in the outfield, later scored on a dropped fly. Then, with two outs, Brittany Mahen clocked a double to right-center field, scoring Mirabell to make it 2-0 for the Wildcats (3-1, 3-0 League VII).

“When you have two strong pitchers, it really becomes who is going to make the least mistakes and who’s going to put the ball in play,” Shiffman said. “We were able to do that, not as much as I would have liked, but we got the job done.”

Mattituck (1-3, 1-2) was missing two regular starters, shortstop Melissa Siegfried and center fielder Alex Chowbay. Val Hommel was moved from left field to shortstop, which she had never played before. She responded by supplying the Tuckers with both of their well-struck hits. Hommel clubbed a double to the left-field fence in the second inning and ripped a single past the third baseman in the fifth.

Afterward, Pickering could not help but rue the errors that proved so costly. “That is killing me right now,” she said.

At the same time, the Tuckers could be encouraged by their ability to give Shoreham-Wading River a competitive game.

“I was a little concerned today,” Perkins said. “I didn’t know what to expect. I knew they have a lot of girls who play travel [ball]. They’re all experienced and stuff. With girls out of position, I was a little concerned, but everyone came out and played their hardest. Unfortunately, we didn’t come out on top, but everyone’s happy with the way we played because we honestly did not expect to run with them seven innings.”

What could be expected, though, was the difficulty Hawks posed.

“Her focus and determination are really the two things I think she has every single time she steps on the field,” Shiffman said. “You can’t be totally on every single day, but her determination to get the job done keeps us in every single game.”

Hawks throws a rise ball, a curveball and a few screwballs. She didn’t have a rise ball last year, but it has become her go-to pitch while the curveball remains her favorite.

“This season we just want to go as far as we can, play as hard as we can, and just leave it all out there,” she said. “I worked hard all winter, and I’ve been waiting for this for a while now.”

Keep counting the strikeouts.

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04/02/13 6:48pm
04/02/2013 6:48 PM
GARRET MEADE PHOTO | Mattituck's Alexa Orlando laying down a bunt before the ball could reach Center Moriches catcher Megan Ricci.

GARRET MEADE PHOTO | Mattituck’s Alexa Orlando laying down a bunt before the ball could reach Center Moriches catcher Megan Ricci.

RED DEVILS 7, TUCKERS 1

Nobody had to tell the Center Moriches Red Devils that they weren’t in Florida any more. The bitterly cold weather on Tuesday was an ample reminder.

When the Center Moriches softball team returned from a spring-training trip to Florida on Saturday, they didn’t bring Florida temperatures back with them, but they did bring the benefits that come with having seven scrimmages in four days in conditions that aren’t close to frigid. Thanks to the Florida trip, Center Moriches not only had a good opportunity for team bonding, but was also able to accelerate its progress.

Referring to the seven scrimmages, Center Moriches coach Rich Roberts said: “That’s 20 at-bats for girls. You’re not going to get that in the cold weather up here.”

So, Center Moriches enjoyed something of a head start on Mattituck, which has had to contend with New York weather.

The difference between the teams was seen Tuesday when Mattituck dropped its Suffolk County League VII opener, 7-1, at Center Moriches High School.

Morgan Maier drove in three runs and Kiley Nolan tossed a three-hitter for Center Moriches (2-0 overall and in League VII). But it was errorless defense, most notably the fine play of senior shortstop Cheyenne Raimondi, that Roberts liked best. Raimondi had two putouts and two assists, one of which was a neat grab on the short hop of a ground ball by Alex Chowbay that drew some ooohs and ahhhs in the fifth inning.

GARRET MEADE PHOTO | Mattituck shortstop Melissa Siegfried keeping focused on the ball.

GARRET MEADE PHOTO | Mattituck shortstop Melissa Siegfried keeping focused on the ball.

“I think she surprises other people, but she doesn’t surprise me any more,” Roberts said. “I’ve come to expect that from her, and I think she’s come to expect that from herself.”

Nolan had five strikeouts and issued two walks. The only hits she allowed were a pair of singles by Chowbay and another single by Brittany Tumulty.

“Kiley attacked the strike zone,” Roberts said. “She worked ahead of hitters. She limited the amount of base runners. Any time you limit base runners, you limit the amount of pressure on your defense, so it makes the game a lot easier. Obviously, that helps.”

The only runs Center Moriches needed came in the first inning. After Claire Brady scored on a wild pitch, Maier shot a two-run single past the second baseman, spotting Center Moriches a 3-0 lead.

The score remained that way until the fifth when Center Moriches capitalized on three Mattituck errors (the Tuckers’ only errors of the game) by scoring four runs.

“That was a rough inning,” said Chowbay.

Miscommunication in Mattituck’s outfield led to a dropped fly ball that allowed Brady, who had led off with a walk, to score her second run of the game. Tori Fahie (double off the left-field fence), Maier (groundout) and Erin Creen (single up the middle) also knocked in a run each during the rally.

“We were right in there … except for that one inning,” said Mattituck pitcher Sarah Perkins, who gave up three earned runs and seven hits over six innings. “It’s always the one bad inning.”

Nolan’s shutout bid was snapped in the seventh. Mattituck’s Courtney Ficner led off with a walk, stole second and third, and then came home on a sacrifice bunt by Perkins.

Mattituck was facing a good team in Center Moriches, which lost to Babylon in last year’s Suffolk Class B final.

“We’re aiming for the county championship this year,” said Raimondi. She added, “I think we’re all really focused and determined.”

That attitude, perhaps as much as the talent level, is what Roberts likes about his team.

“There’s a focus and determination to reach a goal,” he said. “When you have that, it’s something you can’t coach. When girls come out ready to play the game the right way all the time, it kind of makes my job easy.”

While the Tuckers still have work to do, there was a sense among them that the game was an improvement from their season opener, a 15-0 loss to Rocky Point last Wednesday.

“We’ll build on this,” Mattituck coach Kelly Pickering said. “It’s only going to get better from here on out.”

And warmer.

Asked after the game if the cold bothered her, Chowbay answered: “Of course. It was brutal. The wind was actually the biggest challenge. The ball was moving from center field all the way to right.”

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03/13/13 12:00pm
03/13/2013 12:00 PM
GARRET MEADE FILE PHOTO | Caitlin Grilli played shortstop last season for Southold/Greenport. Coach Lori Marra believes Grilli could play third base.

GARRET MEADE FILE PHOTO | Caitlin Grilli played shortstop last season for Southold/Greenport. Coach Lori Marra believes Grilli could play third base.

Two thousand and twelve was hardly a banner year for high school softball on the North Fork. Southold/Greenport and Mattituck combined for a meager two wins, one win apiece. The good thing about that for both teams, though, is there is pretty much only one direction for them to go: up.

“I do feel that way,” said Lori Marra, who is in her second year as Southold/Greenport’s coach. “I’m hoping that we can only go up.”

It helps the Clippers (1-15 last year) that they lost only two players to graduation. One of them was Alexis Reed, the team’s most valuable player who held the starting third base position for three years.

Who will play third this year remains a question. “I have some ideas about what we’re going to be doing with third base,” said Marra.

Caitlin Grilli, Jessica Rizzo and Skye Gillispie battled over the shortstop position last year. “I also have confidence that they can also play third, but Sarah Tuthill is definitely somebody that I’m thinking for third base,” said Marra. She noted that a couple of other players have expressed an interest in playing third base, too, because they know it’s an open position.

The other question marks are in the outfield.

“I think for us a big component is our outfield, just having girls who are solid out there who can read the ball and get the ball in fast,” said Marra.

Leah LaFreniere and Alexandra Small played in the outfield last year, but Marra said she is not sure if she will leave them there or pull them into the infield. Irene Raptopoulos and Willow Sutton are outfield possibilities, too.

Figuring out who will play where is like trying to solve a jigsaw puzzle.

“It is,” Marra agreed. “It’s just a matter of figuring out which player fits the pieces.”

The other change for Southold/Greenport will be behind the plate, with Wendy Peterson taking over at catcher. She will catch pitches from fellow senior Courtney O’Sullivan, who returns as the team’s No. 1 pitcher.

The Clippers are led by two four-year starters, first baseman Nicole Busso and second baseman Kim Bracken. They are both seniors.

Joining the team’s nine returning players are five newcomers. Among them are Brandi Gonzalez and Jamie Grigonis. Marra said their positions are undetermined.

“We’re just taking one piece of the game at a time and gradually putting it all together right now,” Marra said. “One of our biggest things is them having that confidence that they can compete with these other teams. Once they grasp that concept, I really do think that they have it in them, and that competitive drive can take over.”

GARRET MEADE FILE PHOTO | The state of pitcher Sara Perkins' left knee could be critical to Mattituck's success this year.

GARRET MEADE FILE PHOTO | The state of pitcher Sara Perkins’ left knee could be critical to Mattituck’s success this year.

The feeling that better days are ahead can be sensed at Mattituck’s practices. Kelly Pickering, who coached the Tuckers for two years before Rick Hinrichs took over from her for the past two years, is back in charge of the team. Mattituck, which went 8-27 during Pickering’s first two years, is looking to bounce back from a 1-16 season. Pickering said things are “definitely looking up. If Sara [Perkins] can remain healthy, that would be a big bonus for us.”

Indeed, the status of Perkins’ left knee is a great concern for the Tuckers. Mattituck’s No. 1 pitcher saw her 2012 season come to an end in mid-April because of knee trouble, one of a series of injuries that sabotaged the team’s season. The right-hander said her knee is fine now and she is looking forward to a full senior season.

A healthy Perkins would be a plus for a team that is light on numbers. Mattituck has only 11 players, and that includes junior left fielder Sam Perino, who has mononucleosis and hasn’t practiced yet.

At the same time, however, eight of those 11 players are seniors.

“All my bases are covered except my numbers,” said Pickering.

The projected lineup has Brittany Tumulty catching, Courtney Ficner playing first base, Cassie Pelan at second base, Melissa Siegfried at shortstop, Alexa Orlando at third base and Alex Chowbay in center field. The left field and right field positions are open. Pickering said it looks like Lisa Angell, the relief pitcher, will play left field, with Sydney Goy or Jackie Jones going to right field.

“They’ve looked pretty good,” Pickering said. “Melissa has grown, Alexa Orlando has grown.”

Chowbay, who transferred to the school last year when she first joined the team, “has been a great, great asset to the program,” Pickering said. “She’s going to be a good team leader, a field leader.”

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