Timing is everything in softball.
On Tuesday, timing wasn’t on Mattituck’s side.
Depending on how one looked at it, Mattituck’s start to its Suffolk County League VII softball game against East Islip could have been seen as either encouraging or discouraging.
The encouraging part for the Tuckers was them stroking two hits in each of the first three innings at East Islip Middle School. However, they stranded six runners (two in each of those innings), hitting 0-for-7 with runners in scoring position, and didn’t come away with a run to show for their efforts.
That was the discouraging part.
For the remainder of the game, Mattituck failed to have a runner touch second base and lost, 12-0, in the six-inning game that was stopped because of the mercy rule.
“That’s softball for you,” Mattituck coach Kim Gerstung said. “We couldn’t get base hits with anybody on base.”
East Islip (13-1, 13-1) may have represented the ultimate test for Mattituck (6-8, 6-8).
After all, East Islip was last year’s Suffolk Class AA champion (this year the Redmen are a Class A team).
East Islip sits atop the 24-team league in first place.
East Islip was undefeated before taking its first loss, 2-0 to Hauppauge Monday.
And East Islip has a coach who has won his share of games. Jason McGowan has a 13-year career record of 203-82.
“You can’t give them anything,” said Gerstung.
Pitchers Ashley Fuchsman (four innings, seven hits, five strikeouts) and Kyra Kreuscher (two innings, one hit, four strikeouts) shared the eight-hit shutout without allowing a walk.
East Islip’s offense was led by Allison Dell’Orto (4-for-5, four runs, two RBIs. two stolen bases, walk), Katie Burk (4-for-4, three runs, two RBIs, two stolen bases) and Samantha Winegard (3-for-4, three RBIs, stolen base). They accounted for all but two of the Redmen’s hits.
As the Tuckers can tell you, though, it’s not how many hits you have, but when you get them that really counts. East Islip hit 11-for-23 with runners on second or third.
“We started off as a great hitting team, [but] we’ve been in a slump the last couple of games,” Gerstung said. “It’s hard. Usually when one person is off, somebody picks up the slack and the last couple of games our hits have been very sporadic. We can’t get rallies going.”
Mattituck opened the first, second and third innings with two hits each, but Fuchsman managed to get out of trouble each time.
East Islip picked up a run in the first when Burk rapped an RBI double inside the leftfield line.
It remained a close game, even after East Islip tacked on two more runs in the third on an RBI single by Winegard and an RBI from a fielder’s choice that Justine Rizzo hit into. But a pair of four-run rallies in the fourth and fifth deflated Mattituck.
In the fourth, Lauren Crawford launched a high-arcing RBI triple, Dell’Orto belted an RBI single and Winegard ripped a single through the middle that was good for two runs.
After Kreuscher retired the Tuckers in order, East Islip put up four more in the fifth. One run came in on a Kreuscher groundout before Dell’Orto tripled in a run, Burk singled in another and Winegard’s double made it 11-0.
A bases-loaded single by Dell’Orto in the sixth ended it early.
“You cannot give them any freebies, whatsoever,” Mattituck first baseman Ashley Perkins said. “They have to earn it. We did give up a couple, but most of their runs were just hard hits in the gaps. I mean, they earned the ones that they got.”
Alexis Burns had two singles. Mattituck’s others hits (all singles) came from Ashley Chew, Perkins, Dominique Crews, Jaime Gaffga, Cassidy Mullin and Aniah Thompson.
Referring to Mattituck’s 5-0 loss to Miller Place Monday, Gerstung said: “I was very happy because they’re a good team and we ran with them. We couldn’t score on them, but we ran with them and played good defense. Today we had a few mistakes in the field that came back to bite us. I wish we could have had a better showing.”
And better timing.
Photo caption: Mattituck’s Alexis Burns leads off the third inning by belting a long single off the centerfield wall. (Credit: Daniel De Mato)