WHALERS 12, CLIPPERS 0 (6 INNINGS)
It was time for a new beginning, whether it be the first day of spring, the start of the high school softball season or the birth of a varsity coaching career.
Tuesday was opening day for both Pierson/Bridgehampton and Southold/Greenport. While it proved to be a nice start for Pierson/Bridgehampton, at least Southold/Greenport got a look at what it needs to work on.
Melanie Stafford and Samantha Duchemin combined for a three-hitter as Pierson/Bridgehampton put a damper on Lori Marra’s debut as Southold/Greenport’s new coach. The Whalers beat the Clippers, 12-0, in a League VIII game at Pierson High School that was stopped because of the mercy rule in the sixth inning.
Afterward, Marra sounded anything but discouraged, though.
“I really think we did a lot of things well today,” she said. “It’s still early, and we’re going to keep going. We’re still getting to know each other, and I think it’s not a bad start even though we didn’t start out with a win.”
Southold/Greenport third baseman Alexis Reed’s name was written on the lineup card in the cleanup spot, but she was a late scratch and did not play. Marra said Reed had tweaked a knee during pregame warmups, so she decided to sit the senior as a precautionary measure.
“We didn’t want to push anything,” Marra said. “It’s early.”
A freshman, Caitlin Grilli, started at third, making her varsity debut.
Pierson/Bridgehampton lost eight players and six starters from its Suffolk County Class C finalist team of last year, but one wouldn’t have guessed it by the way the Whalers played. They had some good things to point to in just about every facet of the game.
“I’m super excited about the season,” said Stafford, an all-conference player who was the League VIII pitcher of the year in 2011. “I’m happy with the way the game went.”
What was there for her not to be happy about?
Stafford, who has a scholarship to play for Springfield College (Mass.), turned in a nice outing. The a senior right-hander threw seven srtrikeouts, allowed two hits and walked one over four innings before being relieved by Duchemin.
The Whalers showed that they can hit, too. Their 16-hit attack was spearheaded by their Nos. 2, 3 and 4 batters: Sariah Cafiero (3 for 5, five runs scored), Kasey Gilbride (3 for 4, three runs, three runs batted in, two doubles, walk, stolen base) and Stafford (4 for 4, two runs, two RBI, walk, stolen base).
“We have some bats on this team,” said Stafford.
Right fielder Julia Schiavoni celebrated her 17th birthday with a run-scoring single. After the game, the Whalers marked the occasion with cupcakes for the birthday girl and her teammates.
The Whalers even survived Southold/Greenport’s most serious threat in the sixth when the Clippers loaded the bases with none out. Kayleigh Commins reached base on a fielding error, Nicole Busso drove a hard single off Duchemin’s glove and Jessica Rizzo reached base on a fielder’s choice. But Duchemin, a freshman, got out of the jam thanks to an infield fly-rule call, a fielder’s choice and a three-pitch strikeout.
Pierson/Bridgehampton coach Melissa Edwards had to like what she saw, especially since Stafford, Cafiero and Catherine Musnicki are her only returning starters.
“I really didn’t know what to expect,” Edwards said. “Southold, in the past, we’ve always done well against them, but I have a completely different team from last year. But they came out and were on fire. They did what was expected, put the bat on the ball and were able to make the plays in the field.”
Aside from Busso, who had two singles, the only other Southold/Greenport player with a hit was Erin Creedon.
Stafford labored through a 27-pitch first inning, but was economical the rest of the way, finishing with 60 pitches, 41 for strikes.
Gilbride slugged a run-scoring double to make it 1-0 in the first.
Three more runs of separation followed in the third when Bridget Canavan, Musnicki and Schiavoni each picked up an RBI, respectively, through a bases-loaded walk, a fielder’s choice and a single.
Three-run rallies followed in both the fourth and fifth innings, and the rout was on.
Busso, however, indicated that the final score was somewhat misleading and not a true reflection of how the Clippers had played.
“The thing I hate about softball is how the score can be so judgmental, and the fact that the score can put a team down so much,” she said. “I honestly don’t think we had that bad of a game, but the score shows otherwise.”