RED DEVILS 6, CLIPPERS 0
As the softball regular season draws to an end, so do the high school playing careers of seniors. The fortunate among them have the playoffs to look forward to. For others, such as Southold/Greenport’s two seniors, catcher Erin Creedon and third baseman Alexis Reed, it means the end to a memorable chapter in their lives.
Creedon and Reed both acknowledged that a sense of an impending conclusion hit them on Monday before their penultimate game. It was the Senior Day ceremony before the Suffolk County League VIII game at Center Moriches High School that suddenly made it all seem imminent.
Center Moriches coach Rich Roberts, addressing the fans, introduced his five seniors — Victoria Halboron, Kristen Miglionico, Colleen Nohilly, Salena Robbs and Jordan Walther, all of whom started — and thanked them for their service to the program. The ceremony tugged at emotions.
“Seeing that senior stuff freaked me out a little,” Reed said after playoff-bound Center Moriches (10-8, 10-6 Conference IV) concluded its regular season in style with a 6-0 shutout of Southold/Greenport.
The Clippers (1-14, 1-14) still have one remaining game, Tuesday at home against Pierson/Bridgehampton. But the end is coming.
“It’s sad,” Creedon said. “Softball has been like a family for me, and we’ve had a lot of experiences together.”
Creedon and Reed are the team’s two captains. Southold/Greenport coach Lori Marra described the two of them as reliable, responsible team leaders who have helped make her job easier.
“They’re my assistant coaches,” she said. “They’ve been a blessing in a lot of ways. They’ve stepped it up this season. They had to take a different role than they had in the past.”
Roberts, who is in his 11th year as the Center Moriches coach, knows full well the value of senior leadership. “My experience is seniors can make or break you,” he said. “It doesn’t matter [what] their talent level [is]. Kids look up to kids who have been around. If they’re doing the right thing, then your team will do the right thing. If they’re not doing the right thing, I’ve seen teams’ seasons get flushed because they don’t care.”
Senior Day was a smash hit for Center Moriches in every way. Kiley Nolan, supported by errorless defense, struck out eight batters for the seven-hit shutout. She didn’t issue any walks. The Red Devils received two hits apiece from Chiaura Smith, Walther, Nohilly, Miglionico and Robbs. Halboron had two runs batted in from a pair of groundouts.
Center Moriches scored two runs each in the second, third and fourth innings.
It was a good tuneup for the playoffs for Class B Center Moriches, which lost to Babylon in county finals the past two years.
Kim Bracken and Reed provided Southold/Greenport with two hits each.
While it hasn’t been a winning season for Southold/Greenport, the Clippers can take comfort in that they should be in a better situation next year, with almost the entire team returning. “Hopefully next year when we’re starting out, we’re not going to start with that, ‘We’re young. We’re going to grow,’ ” said Marra, who is in her first year as the team’s coach. “Hopefully we did that this season. Hopefully we take whatever we did here and just kind of build on that and keep building.”
Reed said the season has been a good learning experience for everyone on the team. “I learned a lot from the underclassmen,” she said. “They helped me grow as a player. They helped me see that sometimes I get down on myself. They have such a positive outlook all the time. That sort of opened my eyes through preseason that maybe I should start having a positive outlook, and that’s really helped me a lot.”
“I want this program to succeed when we’re not here, and I think we put a good foundation down for them to succeed,” she said of her younger teammates. “They’re growing now. Game after game, play after play, they’re becoming better players, and I’m really proud of that.”
Senior Day festivities are nothing new to Roberts. “It’s bittersweet,” he said. “You say goodbye to kids you’ve been coaching for a long time. You kind of have the opportunity to see them mature and grow. It’s good to see them go off to college and do their thing. It’s like going to a graduation.”