As well as Monday’s non-league softball game started for the Mattituck Tuckers, there was a point when things could have fallen apart for them. They could have panicked. They could have folded.
That was when they pulled together.
After taking a 4-0 lead by the top of the fifth inning, the Tuckers saw that four-run margin sliced to one run by the end of the inning by the Southold/Greenport Clippers.
“Yogi Berra was right when he said 90 percent of the game is mental. … It’s such a mental game that the kids have to pull for each other,” Mattituck Coach Rick Hinrichs said. “They have to keep a positive attitude. Once that goes, everything falls apart. I give them a lot of credit. They fell apart a little bit. They had their own meeting. They tried to suck it up. If you start backbiting a little bit, it’s over.”
But the Tuckers kept their cool, mounted four-run rallies in the sixth and seventh innings to protect their lead, and left Southold High School as 12-6 winners.
“We learned how to pick our teammates up,” Mattituck catcher Courtney Ficner said. “We learned how to come together when we get down on ourselves, but we have to work on that more.”
Ficner had a three-hit day while Kaitlin Perino, Jessica Boomer and Jackie Hinrichs drove in two runs apiece for Mattituck (3-5 overall, 1-5 in Suffolk County League VII), which will face Southold/Greenport (2-5, 2-3 League VIII) in a crossover game on Wednesday in Mattituck. Lilly McCullough scored three of Mattituck’s runs.
Only two of the six runs that Southold/Greenport scored against Mattituck pitcher Sara Perkins were earned. Perkins gave up eight hits, no walks, and struck out two for the complete-game win.
Meanwhile, wind gusts played tricks on fielders and were one reason why the game had almost as many errors (15) as hits (18). A number of fly balls — fair and foul — were dropped.
“The ball, it had a nice tail to it,” said Southold/Greenport third baseman Alexis Reed, who had two hits. “You think it would be one place, and then it would be the total opposite.”
Mattituck had seven hits in the sixth and seventh innings alone to help pad its lead.
McCullough, Ficner, Perkins and Boomer all singled in the sixth. Perkins chopped a single past the third baseman to bring in a run, making it 5-3. Then Boomer delivered a single to center field that scored two more runs, with yet another following on the same play, the result of an error.
In the seventh, Jackie Hinrichs stroked a two-run single and two other runs scored when an outfielder couldn’t hold onto a fly ball hit by Perkins.
The Tuckers needed those runs, too, because their fielding went south. They made nine errors in the final three innings.
“It seemed that once they got a couple of girls on, they got a key base hit to score,” Southold/Greenport Coach Cindy Sepenoski said of the Tuckers. “They really did their job hitting when they needed to. That’s what we need to work on, getting the key hit. I mean, we’ll get the bases loaded and we’ll watch two girls get out and leave three girls on. We’re struggling with that.”
It was Mattituck, though, that left the bases loaded in the first and third innings after scoring the game’s first three runs.
For Southold/Greenport, the performance was a letdown, coming off an encouraging showing in a 9-5 loss last Thursday to the Port Jefferson Royals, the defending Suffolk Class C champions.
Regardless, Reed said the Clippers have made definite improvement since their winless season of last year.
“We’re building,” she said. “We can only hope to go up. We have the makings to be a great team. We’re going to get there.”