The previous meeting between the Bishop McGann-Mercy and Center Moriches high school softball teams was what ESPN would have labeled an instant classic. And Thursday’s rematch? Not so much.
In that memorable game on April 15, Mercy gave Center Moriches a scare before falling short, 7-6, in eight innings. Thursday’s game didn’t last a full five innings.
Center Moriches showed why it has won the last two Suffolk County League VII championships, breaking out for a nine-run rally in the fourth inning and running away to a 15-3 rout on its home field. The game ended when Cassy Smith’s run-scoring single with one out in the fifth satisfied the 12-run mercy rule. The whole business was over in 1 hour 33 minutes.
“It wasn’t our day,” said Mercy coach Jackie Zilnicki.
It wasn’t as if Mercy (9-5, 9-5) wasn’t hitting. But the Monarchs stranded two runners on base in each of the first four innings, during which they went 0 for 6 with runners in scoring position. They finished the game going 1 for 9 in those situations.
“We were getting hits,” third baseman Kate Wilkie said. “We just weren’t able to get hits at the right time.”
That wasn’t a problem for Center Moriches (14-1, 14-1), which is running neck and neck with Babylon (12-2, 12-2) for the league title chase. The Red Devils were coming off their first regular-season loss since April 2014 the day before. But even in Wednesday’s 14-12 defeat to Babylon, Center Moriches nearly came back after falling behind, 14-3.
It’s no secret that Center Moriches has a potent offense. “We hit one to nine, there’s no doubt about it,” said Center Moriches coach Rich Roberts.
Alex Andersen and Cassy Smith singled in runs for a 2-0 Center Moriches lead in the first.
Then came the fourth. Half of Center Moriches’ 16 hits were delivered that inning, the biggest being Cierra Smith’s two-run homer over the left-field fence as part of her three-hit day. The inning also featured a three-run double by Erin Copozzi.
“It was a lot different than last game,” Wilkie said. “I don’t know. There was just like a piece missing.”
That piece was sound defense. Mercy made two errors and missed cutoffs, the sort of stuff Center Moriches capitalizes on.
Yes, even for a team on the rise, playing Center Moriches can be a humbling experience sometimes.
And Mercy is on the rise. The Monarchs proved that they belong in the same conversation with Center Moriches and Babylon with their 3-2 triumph over Babylon on April 25.
“That was great,” said Mercy catcher Ali Hulse, who went 3 for 4 and knocked in a run Thursday. “That’s how we should be playing, but today we just didn’t execute in the field defensively. We didn’t play like we should have. It would feel better if we had won today.”
Photo caption: Bishop McGann-Mercy, coming off a victory over Babylon, suffered a 15-3 loss in Center Moriches on Thursday. (Credit: Bob Liepa)