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Softball: Settlers, missing 5 starters, fall

Now here’s an interesting item from the What a Difference a Week Makes Department:

A week ago, on Friday, April 6, Bishop McGann-Mercy was soundly beaten by Babylon, 13-1, in a softball game that was limited to five innings by the mercy rule.

Since then, the surging Monarchs are 3-1. They have lived up to their name, showing no mercy, winning their last three games by huge margins.

Their latest result was a 14-0 victory over Southold/Greenport in a Suffolk County League VII game that was stopped after five innings on Friday, April 13.

So, what’s the difference? The Monarchs (4-5, 4-5) are learning from their mistakes after playing some difficult opponents early on.

“I just think that we’ve played a lot of really tough teams and we got to see how real softball gets played,” coach Rose Horton said. “We took all of the little pieces and kind of pieced our game together. We worked really hard the past few days in practice. We’ve had some good games since [then]. So the girls have been working hard and making sure their heads are in the game for seven innings. Today we didn’t go to seven innings but they’re working hard to make sure they are mentally focused for the entire time we are out here on the softball field.”

No doubt about that.

The Monarchs scored nine runs in the first inning and added five more in the second.

Not only did every Mercy player get at least one hit, they scored at least one run. Rightfielder Joslyn Lessard led the way with two RBIs. Shortstop Lauren Hanna finished with a pair of doubles, two runs and one RBI and third baseman Kate Wilkie scored twice and had a triple.

In three consecutive road games the past week, Mercy dropped a 9-0 decision to Mount Sinai before busting loose in a 14-1 trouncing of Harborfields and a 23-1 romp over Amityville.

That has done wonders for team confidence.

“It brings it up a lot more than what we usually have,” Hanna said. “It definitely boosts our energy and our confidence to keep playing better and better and just rising above that level.”

It continued against Southold.

Lefthander Sarah Penny, who had two bunt singles and an RBI, was dominating on the mound. She had a no-hitter entering the fourth inning before Ashley Hilary spoiled it with a single and limited Southold (3-5, 3-5) to a pair of hits. She struck out four and walked one.

“I was throwing my strikes, hitting my spots, knowing that everyone was behind me to back me up in case,” Penny said.

Even though they are a game under .500, the Monarchs are thinking postseason.

“There is a good chance,” Hanna said. “There are teams that are good and if we come together and we just know what we are doing, we can win.”

“We have 11 games left,” Horton said. “So, we have to keep working hard and improving every single game whether we win or lose. We have to be able to take something positive and add it to our game.”

The First Settlers were forced to use a makeshift lineup. They were down five regular starters due to senior class trips by Greenport (Florida) and Southold (cruise). That forced coach Skip Gehring to bring up five junior varsity players and move players around to different positions they don’t usually play. He also was missing his second through sixth hitters, including power hitters Grace Syron and Hannah Sutton. In a rarity, Southold was forced to use two Nos. 20s in its lineup — leftfielder Jessica Mele and second baseman Emily Newman, a JV player.

Gehring decided to use JV righthander Liz Jernick as his pitcher rather than Hilary, who played first base.

“You’re missing five starters, and really six starters because I wasn’t throwing out the No. 1 pitcher,” he said. “I wasn’t going to waste her throwing from the mound, not having the support from behind her that she would need. A bunch of girls came up from JV to play, to battle. They did the best they could.”

The loss could put the Class B Settlers’ playoff hopes in jeopardy.

“It’s frustrating because they’re a C school,” Gehring said. “We have to beat Port Jefferson and we have to beat Pierson, which we should. When we had everybody, we beat John Glenn, Southampton and Amityville. We fight … We’re competitive with everybody.”