Softball: McGann-Mercy rallies in seventh, overtakes Clippers

GARRET MEADE PHOTO | Ali Hulse swung for two hits and two runs batted in for Bishop McGann-Mercy in its comeback win over Southold/Greenport.
GARRET MEADE PHOTO | Ali Hulse swung for two hits and two runs batted in for Bishop McGann-Mercy in its comeback win over Southold/Greenport.


For Southold/Greenport, an away game against Bishop McGann-Mercy has been something to look forward to. Stotzky Memorial Park, McGann-Mercy’s softball home in Riverhead, is one of the nicer venues on Southold/Greenport’s schedule.

For the Clippers, though, Stotzky Memorial Park is fast becoming a house of horrors.

McGann-Mercy, which trailed by as many as seven runs, turned in a four-run rally in the bottom of the seventh inning to triumph, 9-8, on Tuesday.

Ali Hulse’s bunt single brought in Victoria Pace for the tying run, and Shannon Willmott followed her home on the play as a result of a throwing error for the come-from-behind victory. It was McGann-Mercy’s first and only lead of the game.

“I can’t remember a time when we had a game like this in a while,” said Willmott.

Willmott was immediately reminded by a reporter of the last time these teams played at Stotzky, almost a year ago to the day. In last year’s game, two errors sandwiched around a Karlin McIntyre double in the bottom of the seventh enabled the Monarchs to salvage a thrilling 2-1 triumph.

Miscues (including six errors) by Southold/Greenport also contributed to this latest collapse.

GARRET MEADE PHOTO | Irene Raptopoulos of Southold/Greenport watching the single she slapped to start the game.
GARRET MEADE PHOTO | Irene Raptopoulos of Southold/Greenport watching the single she slapped to start the game.

Claire Sullivan started the winning rally for the Monarchs (3-1 overall, 3-1 League VIII) when she was hit by a pitch before later scoring on a groundout by Cassie Densieski. Katie Nolan, who had bounced a single through the infield, scored herself on a single by Pace, slicing Southold/Greenport’s lead to 8-7. After a Willmott single, Michaela Zebrowski turned in what might have been the at-bat of the game. Zebrowski fouled off six pitches from Courtney O’Sullivan before striking out. The third strike was dropped, however, and as a result of two errors on the play, the rally stayed alive as Hulse stepped up to the plate with one out.

Willmott said she liked games ending this way. “It keeps everyone in suspense,” she said. “It keeps everyone on their toes, and no one’s getting bored.”

Of course, the Clippers might have had a different opinion.

“I always tell the girls, ‘Don’t get comfortable’ ” with a lead, Southold/Greenport coach Lori Marra said. “I don’t think they did here. I can’t even put it on that. I think that both teams were making really great plays.”

The game started so promisingly for Southold/Greenport (0-2, 0-2), which put up six runs in the first inning and led, 7-0, after two.

“I think once it hit really everyone hard that we were losing 7 to 0, it finally kicked in and we did what we had to do,” said Willmott.

McGann-Mercy pulled itself back in the game. Jackie Zaweski singled in McGann-Mercy’s first run in the third. Then the Monarchs followed that with a four-run burst in the fourth. They undoubtedly got a shot of confidence that inning as Pace, Willmott (two-run double), Zabrowski (run-scoring single) and Hulse (run-scoring single) strung together four straight hits to bring in those runs.

“That inning gave us a lot of confidence,” McGann-Mercy coach Frank Baker said, “and at the bottom of the seventh inning, I called them all together and said to them: ‘We can win the game. All you’ve got to do is put the bat on the ball and be strong. Swing harder.’ ”

When Southold/Greenport was clinging to a 7-5 lead, one could sense a momentum shift. Willmott said, “I kind of noticed that the other team’s confidence was slowly shattering.”

McGann-Mercy’s leadoff batter, Willmott, had a three-hit game as did Pace. Willmott scored three runs. Altogether, the Monarchs totaled 16 hits.

Kim Bracken went 4 for 4 and drove in three runs — all on infield singles — for Southold/Greenport. She also scored a run and stole a base.

“I’m disappointed,” Southold/Greenport first baseman Nicole Busso said, “but I think that we were very equally matched teams, and I honestly can’t wait to play them again because I know that it will be a good game no matter what.”

McGann-Mercy had been involved in only one-sided games before this. The Monarchs had beaten The Stony Brook School, 26-4, and Port Jefferson, 30-7, in addition to suffering a 15-0 loss to Babylon. Pulling out a win in a close game brought value.

Baker said he felt good about his team’s chances in the bottom of the seventh.

“I felt very strongly that they were going to do something because they had to do it, and it was just a matter of putting the bat on the ball and hustling on bases,” he said. “Under pressure, they seem to get stronger.”

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