RED DEVILS 16, CLIPPERS 0 (5 INNINGS)
After spending a game puzzling the Southold/Greenport batters, Center Moriches pitcher Erin Creen was puzzled herself moments after Monday’s high school softball game when her coach, Rich Roberts, handed her the game ball and offered his congratulations.
Congratulations? For what?
That is when Creen was told she had just thrown a no-hitter. Roberts said Creen’s face lit up with a big smile.
“I didn’t even know,” she said.
In retrospect, Creen figured, that might have been a good thing. “I feel like if I knew … I probably was going to get nervous and like probably screw it up or something,” she said.
Creen was lost in the moment as she went about hurling her first no-hitter since she was in Little League. With 13 hits of support (four of them doubles), she helped Center Moriches to a 16-0 defeat of the visiting Clippers in a game that was stopped after four and half innings because of the 12-run mercy rule.
The closest the Clippers (2-11 overall and in Suffolk County League V) came to getting a hit off the junior right-hander was in the fourth inning when Jessica Rizzo led off by pounding a grounder that glanced off the second baseman’s glove for an error.
Creen, a pitcher known for her control, induced six outs by groundouts, five on strikeouts and two on flyouts. She also received some help from her friends. Center Moriches (12-2, 12-1) turned a double play and its catcher, Megan Ricci, threw a runner out trying to steal second base. Creen issued three walks — to Stephanie Clark, Heather Jarvis and Kendra King — while facing three batters over the minimum.
Creen, who splits the team’s pitching duties with Kiley Nolan, said she felt as if she had good command of the assorted screwballs, curveballs and rise balls that she threw.
“I thought she was great, I do,” Southold/Greenport coach Lori Marra said. “She had really great movement. … Even when she threw a few balls, she came right back. At no point did she lose control at all.”
Befitting a team that started the day tied with Babylon for first place, Center Moriches provided Creen with a steady supply of runs, scoring two in the first, seven in the second, three in the third and four in the fourth.
The Nos. 5 and 6 batters in Center Moriches’ order, Caroline Casey and Erin Capozzi, drove in three runs each while the No. 8 batter, Emily Pettit, knocked in a pair of runs herself. All but one of the Center Moriches starters had at least one hit.
Capozzi lined a single in the first, scoring the game’s first two runs.
Center Moriches didn’t waste time adding to that lead. The following inning the Red Devils produced five hits, including a two-run double by Casey and a two-run single by Pettit, as they pulled away to a 9-0 lead.
The Red Devils helped their cause by drawing 11 walks.
The highlight of the day for the Clippers was the defensive play of King. King stood out in right field, catching all four balls hit her way. She covered a lot of ground to grab a popup by Alexa Andersen that took her into foul territory just beyond first base.
“I think this is probably her best game and she showed it,” Marra said. “Right field doesn’t always get a lot of attention, and to have that much attention and to have her execute every time is awesome.”
King, describing the season, called it “a work in progress.”
The Clippers had all of their players available for the first time this season. Regardless, they knew they were in for a tough time against Center Moriches, which had beaten them by 12-0 on April 8.
A week from today Center Moriches will have a showdown with Babylon in Babylon in a game that could determine who the league champion will be. Babylon beat Center Moriches, 8-4, earlier this season.
Center Moriches is seeking its first league title since 2012. The Red Devils, who finished second behind Shoreham-Wading River last year, unquestionably have talent.
“When you hit the ball, you catch the ball and you pitch, it makes coaching kind of easy,” said Roberts.
As does the occasional no-hitter. Creen clearly enjoyed the experience. She said, “I would suggest that any pitcher work to throw one because it’s a great feeling afterwards.”