TUCKERS 7, MARINERS 1
Along with the bats, the balls, the gloves and the batting helmets, the word was spread to bring one more item for what was probably the Mattituck softball team’s final home game of the year: tissues.
The Tuckers have seven seniors, all regular starters, many with deep roots in the program. Emotions and tears were expected to be flowing for Monday’s pregame Senior Day ceremony.
“It was kind of like an emotional day, the whole day,” one of those seniors, catcher Brittany Tumulty, said. “Everyone’s, you know, not dreading coming here, but didn’t want to put an end to something.”
With that in mind, Mattituck coach Kelly Pickering figured it would be wise to make the ceremony as brief as possible.
“I’m very lucky that it wasn’t a crying-fest before, which was why I kept our little ceremony very brief,” she explained. “We kept it short and sweet just to get them through it. I didn’t want them too emotional before the game.”
As it was, the Tuckers did quite well, keeping control of their emotions as they received flowers and hugs from Pickering.
“Everyone thought we were going to cry and get upset,” senior third baseman Alexa Orlando said. “We held it together.”
Then they did quite well keeping control of the game. Sara Perkins registered 12 strikeouts en route to tossing a four-hitter in a 7-1 defeat of Southampton. The senior right-hander allowed three walks.
Two other Mattituck seniors, Orlando and Courtney Ficner, drove in two runs each. Orlando went 3 for 4, scored two runs and stole a base. Ficner had a steal to go with her two hits for Mattituck (6-10, 6-9 League VII), which scored five runs over its final three innings at bat.
With one regular-season game left on Wednesday at Bayport-Blue Point, Mattituck hasn’t abandoned hope for a playoff berth. Pickering said she would like to petition for a playoff spot.
Mattituck’s entire starting infield of first baseman Ficner, second baseman Cassie Pelan, shortstop Melissa Siegfried and Orlando will be graduating along with Perkins, Tumulty and right fielder Jackie Jones. They have been described as a close group, as has the entire team.
Asked what she will remember most about her seniors, Pickering replied tongue in cheek, “How much they drove me crazy.”
On a more serious note, she said, “I will miss them tremendously.”
The seven seniors will have fond memories of their final home regular-season game. It was one of the team’s most well-played games of the season. Mattituck outhit Southampton, 12-4, and did not make an error.
A run-scoring single by Caroline Rumph in the first inning spotted Southampton a 1-0 lead.
Orlando poked a two-out, two-run single to right field in the second to put Mattituck ahead, 2-1.
That was the first of three two-run innings for Mattituck. In the fourth, Ficner looped a two-out, two-run single to right. Siegfried and Orlando singled in the sixth before they both later scored on the same play from a throwing error.
In between those two innings was Val Hommel’s run-scoring double in the fifth.
Chloe Schmidt had two hits for Southampton (3-13, 3-12), which suffered its fifth loss in a row and sixth setback in seven games.
“We did not hit,” said Southampton coach Virginia McGovern.
Asked if her team’s four hits were on the low side, she answered: “No. Unfortunately, that’s pretty much the average. We can’t put three or four hits together to get runs in. We squandered some opportunities with the baserunners in scoring position.”
Southampton went 8-9 last year, missing the playoffs by one game. The Mariners lost nine players (including eight starters) from that team, have had to endure injuries, and have also had to do without a junior varsity team this season.
“We were without some key people all season,” said McGovern.
Mattituck could find itself in the same position next year, facing a rebuilding project. This season, however, has been “definitely a step moving forward in every way,” said Pickering.
Ficner, who along with Perkins are the team’s only four-year varsity players, said: “We never really gave up on our team even though we didn’t really win a lot of games in the past years. We all just came back and wanted to play. We all played as a team. … We stuck by each other.”
And they put up a brave face Monday as they watched their days as Tuckers start to wind down.
“Everyone thought they were going to bawl their eyes out but everyone managed to hold themselves together because we still have Wednesday,” Tumulty said. “That should be a real waterworks show.”