Because of injuries and player absences, writing out lineup cards has been something of an adventure this season for Mattituck High School’s softball coach, Rick Hinrichs. Hinrichs waited until virtually the last minute to complete his lineup card on Monday — as he was walking toward home plate for the pregame conference with the umpires and Southampton Mariners Coach Virginia McGovern.
The big question was whether or not Sara Perkins, the Tuckers’ No. 1 pitcher, would be listed in the lineup at her natural position. That had been determined only minutes earlier. After Rich Perkins, Sara’s father and the team’s assistant coach, asked her how she was feeling and she replied positively, he said: “Fine. You’re starting.”
Perkins, who did not pitch in Mattituck’s previous five games because of bursitis under her right shoulder blade, not only pitched, but she made a triumphant return to the pitching circle. The sophomore right-hander registered 10 strikeouts in an 11-6 win at Southampton High School. She went the distance, giving up eight hits and three walks.
“I think I did pretty good considering I haven’t pitched a whole game in a while,” Perkins said. “It just felt back to normal.”
Mattituck improved to 7-9, 5-9 in Suffolk County League VII. Southampton dropped to 4-10, 4-10.
The Tuckers have seen how injuries can throw a monkey wrench into the works. At various times they have been without the services of catcher Courtney Ficner, shortstop Jackie Hinrichs and center fielder Alex Chowbay. “Right up the middle,” said Rick Hinrichs.
On Monday the Tuckers were without three regular starters — Chowbay, Hinrichs and left fielder Lilly McCullough — and yet they did just fine.
For one thing, Perkins pitched about as well, if not better, than anyone could have expected, considering her time away from the position.
“Sara looked like her old self to me,” Rick Hinrichs said. “As the game progressed, you could see her throwing harder and becoming more confident and her control was there.”
So was Mattituck’s hitting. The Tuckers cranked out 11 hits, took advantage of seven Southampton errors, and looked in control from the fourth inning on. After Southampton scored a run in each of the first two innings, Mattituck plated 10 straight runs for a 10-2 lead by the sixth.
Mattituck scored its first four runs on two at-bats in the fourth. With the bases loaded, Jessica Boomer looped a double to shallow left field, scoring two runs. Two more runs followed when the next batter, Mallaigh Nolan, poked a single into right field.
The Tuckers mounted another four-run rally in the fifth. Megan Conklin put her new bat to good use by clubbing a run-scoring double, Boomer delivered a sacrifice fly, and Alexa Orlando singled home two runs.
In the sixth, Melissa Siegfried singled in a run before later hustling home on an error, making it 10-2.
“We were all hitting the ball well, which hasn’t always been happening,” Boomer said, “so it was nice for it to all come together today.”
Southampton’s starting shortstop, Caroline Rumph, injured her left ankle while sliding into second base in the fifth. She did not apply any pressure on her ankle as she was helped off the field. McGovern said it might be a sprain. “She kind of jammed it,” said McGovern, who noted that the bags are magnetic and should move when a certain amount of pressure is exerted on them. “For some reason that one didn’t give.”
Perkins, who had played in the field during the period when she wasn’t pitching, said the bursitis had primarily bothered her while she pitched. But not on Monday.
“It felt a lot better [today] than it has felt the past couple of weeks,” she said, “so, I think it’s finally starting to dwindle down.”
The Tuckers were undoubtedly happy to have Perkins firing strikes again into catcher Brittany Tumulty’s glove. That includes Boomer, who had been handling much of the pitching in Mattituck’s previous five games.
“I like it, it’s just a lot of stress, so I have a better appreciation of Sara,” she said.
McGovern said Perkins was “steady. The most important thing is she gets it over and she’s accurate. She did a nice job of changing speeds and keeping the ball off the plate when she was ahead [in] the count.”
Now, with Perkins pitching again, it should simplify Rick Hinrichs’ lineup writing a little.