TUCKERS 1, CLIPPERS 0
Before the North Fork’s two high school softball teams, Southold/Greenport and Mattituck, played their only game against each other this year on Thursday, Mattituck catcher Brittany Tumulty suggested a name for the game. “The North Fork championship game,” she dubbed it.
The fictitious title goes to the Tuckers, by the slimmest of margins.
Mattituck shortstop Melissa Siegfried threw Southold/Greenport’s Jessica Rizzo out at home plate for the final out of the game, preserving a 1-0 triumph for the Tuckers at Mattituck High School.
“I just saw the flash of red going home, and everyone was screaming,” said Siegfried.
In winning, Mattituck (4-8, 4-7 League VII) kept alive its slim playoff chances. The Tuckers would need to win their remaining five regular-season games in order to reach the postseason.
The League VII/League VIII crossover game’s only run, from the first inning, stood up on a day when hits were hard to come by. An infield single by Siegfried, followed by walks to Tumulty and Courtney Ficner, loaded the bases for Sara Perkins, who delivered a sacrifice fly for the score.
Then the pitchers clamped down. Perkins had a one-hitter going for much of the game before Southold/Greenport came up with two hits in the seventh. Rizzo chopped an infield single that had the effect of a bunt, beating Perkins’ throw to first base. Rizzo went on to steal second base. One out later, Alexandra Small bounced a single up the middle and Southold/Greenport coach Lori Marra sent Rizzo home on the play.
“I had to go for it,” Marra said. “Honestly, [hits] were so hard to come by, I didn’t know if we were going to get another opportunity so, hey, I don’t regret it.”
Siegfried collected the ball and fired an accurate throw to Tumulty, who blocked the plate and tagged Rizzo out to end it.
“I just tried my hardest,” Rizzo said. “It was pretty close.”
Perkins, coming off a no-hitter against The Stony Brook School two days earlier, was sharp again. She allowed three hits and recorded nine strikeouts, two shy of her season-high. And then there was the statistic that the Tuckers had to love: no walks.
“I think she pitched great today,” Marra said. “Clearly, we weren’t hitting off her much, so that says a lot for itself because we have been improving so much with our hitting.”
Perkins retired the first 10 batters before finally conceding a hit when Kim Bracken whacked a double past left fielder Lisa Angell.
Mattituck scratched out four hits against pitchers Sarah Tuthill and Courtney O’Sullivan. In addition to Siegfried, Cassie Pelan, Perkins and Val Hommel also singled for the Tuckers.
“We had some shots,” Mattituck coach Kelly Pickering said. “We were hitting the ball hard. Unfortunately for us, but fortunately for them, they were in the spots that they needed to be in. We definitely drove some balls deep. The bats were working, it was just unfortunately to everybody.”
Because Southold/Greenport (3-8, 3-8 League VIII) was playing the third of four games in four days, Marra opted to start Tuthill, a sophomore, and give O’Sullivan, the team’s No. 1 pitcher, some rest. Tuthill pitched the first three innings before O’Sullivan, a senior, relieved her, giving up only one hit over three innings. O’Sullivan had tossed a five-hit shutout the day before in a 6-0 win over Port Jefferson.
Speaking about the game against Mattituck, Rizzo said: “It was a tight, close game. We figured it was going to be close.”
Adding spice to the game was the familiarity among the players from the two neighboring teams.
“We wanted to win so badly because we heard the chatter from them and they heard the chatter from us,” said Siegfried.
Siegfried said it was probably Mattituck’s most exciting game of the season. Perhaps it was a little too close and a little too exciting for Pickering’s liking, but the coach had to like how Siegfried played, especially in the clutch.
“Like everybody else, she goes through ups and downs, but she’s one of the more consistent offensive and defensive players that we have,” Pickering said. “She’s definitely reliable. If I need her to bunt, she’ll lay one down. Whatever you need, you’re going to get out of her.”
After the game, after all of her teammates had left the field, Siegfried recounted the thrilling ending, and what it meant to the Tuckers.
“It was intense,” the heroine with the walk-off assist said. “We proved to ourselves that we can hang in there.”