Shining at the plate

Sara Perkins handled some relief duty for Mattituck against Mount Sinai.

As the Mount Sinai Mustangs began hitting their stride at the plate, scoring 17 runs in consecutive games last week, their cleanup hitter, Sarah Shine, dipped into a funk.

Overanxious at the plate, Shine started grounding out on balls she could have been driving. So, before Tuesday’s game at home against Mattituck, Mount Sinai Coach Allison Maire slid Shine down a spot in the order.

The result was a spectacular afternoon for Shine, one of only three seniors for Mount Sinai. Shine batted 3 for 4 with five runs batted in and two doubles in an 11-1 Mount Sinai win.

“She showed me today,” said Maire, who notched her 99th career coaching victory. “I’ll take it. Four or five spot, it doesn’t matter.”

The Mustangs won their fifth straight game, feasting on League VIII in the crossover part of the schedule. Over their five-game win streak, the Mustangs (6-5 overall, 6-4 League VII) have outscored their competition, 58-4, and haven’t given more than one run in any game.

For a team accustomed to overpowering much of its competition, the 2010 season hasn’t been quite as easy. The Mustangs came into the season with a brand new roster from a year ago, a team filled with young players new to the varsity. They opened the season with three straight losses, two of which were league games. They lost only once in league in the previous two years combined.

While the Mustangs expected to take some lumps at the beginning of the season, they’re now reaping the benefits of their hard work. Maire said the players coming together off the field has helped translate into better play on it.

“Once they started doing the team thing, they went to a team dinner and did things together, they’re really starting to pick it up,” she said.

Eighth grader Holly Drasser earned the win against the Tuckers by pitching a complete game, giving up one run on six hits. She struck out 11 without a walk.

It was the second varsity win for the lefty Drasser. Her first came April 21 in a five-inning no-hitter against Southold/Greenport.

“She throws a lot of different pitches and they are getting stronger as she keeps going,” Maire said.

Drasser has rotated pitching duties with freshman Michelle Piergiorgi. Both girls have different styles of pitching, Maire said.

“They’re different, but they both know how to throw it and get it done,” Maire said. “Now that the defense behind them is getting more solid it’s a lot easier.”

The Mustangs played an error-free game against the Tuckers. Mattituck, meanwhile, made a few miscues in the field that allowed the Mustangs to blow the game open. Danielle Grim started for the Tuckers (2-9, 1-8) and pitched into the third inning before Sara Perkins came in to pitch the rest of the way.

The Mustangs struck for three runs in the first inning, capped by a two-run double to left-center by Shine. The Mustangs scored six runs in the third inning, aided by a pair of Mattituck errors.

Shine singled home the first run to make it 4-1 Mount Sinai. Lindsay Putkowski followed with runners on the corners. She grounded back to Grim, who threw for the out at first. Gianna Gulli raced home from third on the throw to score Mount Sinai’s fifth run. The ball bounced away from the catcher as Shine reached third base. She scampered home, but the catcher recovered in time to tag her out.

Mount Sinai scored two more runs on bases-loaded walks. Lilly McCullough was the top hitter for Mattituck. She was 3 for 3 in the leadoff spot.

Jackie Hinrichs drove in the Tuckers’ lone run in the second inning with a double to right field.

Sophomore Jordan Fiore had a big day at the plate for Mount Sinai, going 2 for 4 with an RBI and three runs. She also showed off her arm behind the plate, gunning down two runners at second on steals. “She’s very, very consistent,” Maire said.

Fiore can play nearly anywhere on the diamond, including pitcher. Her prime position, though, remains catcher. “She literally does it all,” Maire said.

Fiore had big shoes to fill at catcher after Jill Donnelly graduated. Donnelly was a four-time all-county catcher who now plays at Towson (Md.).

“Since I’ve started coaching, this is my seventh year, I’ve had one good catcher after another,” Maire said.

Tomorrow the Mustangs will host Hampton Bays, the only team in League VII they’ve yet to face. From there they’ll play each team in the league one more time.

“I think some of the teams will be surprised when they see us again,” Maire said. “That’s the goal anyway.”

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