Rick Hinrichs’ day was made at around 3 p.m. on Monday when he received the good news. The Mattituck softball coach learned that his all-league pitcher, junior Sara Perkins, will not need surgery on her left knee, which had been bothering her this winter.
No operation means the Tuckers (8-12 last season) may be in operation. Hinrichs said his team just got a lot better with that encouraging news.
Perkins has been practicing, taking pitching lessons and doing rehabilitation exercises. “She has pain,” said Hinrichs.
Mattituck has a plan with respect to how Perkins will be handled.
“The plan is just to pick and choose our games with her, don’t overpitch her,” Hinrichs said. “Let her get her strength back, and hopefully we can sneak in the playoffs that way, and she’ll be back at full strength for the playoffs. That’s what we’re hoping for on paper. Let’s see if it works.”
Hinrichs said Perkins will not pitch every game. He said he is contemplating giving her two or three innings of work in the team’s season-opening non-league game at Newfield on Saturday. After that, the team will have a week off.
When Perkins is not in the pitcher’s circle, who will be pitching for Mattituck this season?
“We got five kids who stepped up and said, ‘We’ll try to fill the void,’ ” said Hinrichs.
Those five are Melissa Siegfried, Alex Chowbay, Jackie Hinrichs (the coach’s daughter who tore a labrum in her shoulder two years ago), Kaitlin Perino and Lisa Angel.
Just how well these pitchers can do the job will go a long way toward determining how Mattituck fares.
Pitching aside, the Tuckers seem to be in a good situation, returning all but one of their starting players from last year. A case could be made that the team is stronger.
“They’re all a year older and another year more experienced,” said Rick Hinrichs.
The infield remains intact with catcher Courtney Ficner, first baseman Megan Conklin, second baseman Siegfried, shortstop Jackie Hinrichs and third baseman Perino. Siegfried and Hinrichs may switch positions. Conklin and Ficner were the team’s top hitters last year, both finishing with batting averages of around .480.
Two of last year’s three starting outfielders are back, center fielder Chowbay and left fielder Alexa Orlando. Chowbay was the Suffolk County League VII rookie of the year in 2011.
Rick Hinrichs said that for right field, he is looking at Perino’s younger sister, Samantha Perino, as well as Christina Fasolino and Jaclyn Jones.
Corinne Araneo, an outfielder, is also among the team’s 10 returning players.
Angel and first baseman/outfielder Sydney Goy may be bounced back and forth between the varsity and junior varsity teams, said Rick Hinrichs.
“Last year, I think, was a learning experience for everybody,” the second-year coach said. “Like I said, it’s a tough league. We had some really nice wins; we had some real devastating losses. We got crunched a couple of times.”
Class B Mattituck will face a couple of Class A teams in league play in Bayport-Blue Point and Mount Sinai.
What this year will bring for Mattituck is tough to say. A lot could depend on Perkins and her knee.
“It is what it is,” Rick Hinrichs said. “There’s nothing you can do about it, and you hope for the best.”