It was April Fools’ Day, but the Babylon High School softball team was no joke. Neither is Mattituck’s slugger, Jaden Thompson.
Thompson has opened the season on a tear, but not even her bat was enough against the defending Long Island Class B champions. Alexa Tenety’s pitching, supported by 10 runs of offense (and 14 walks), was more than enough for undefeated Babylon to cruise, 12-2, in a Suffolk County League VI game in Mattituck Monday.
Tenety allowed only one earned run over the full seven innings, with eight strikeouts. The senior righthander issued only one walk and gave up seven hits.
A big part of Tenety’s job was limiting Thompson to one hit — an RBI single. Thompson has gotten off to a terrific start this season. The senior third baseman’s numbers are, well, nothing less than phenomenal. Through Monday’s game, she is hitting .696 (16-for-23) with three home runs, 14 RBIs, three triples and two doubles. She also scored 13 runs and stole six bases. That’s quite a haul.
“Her numbers are great,” Mattituck coach Kim Gerstung said. “She’s just a great player, though. She hits the ball hard. She’s fast, so that helps.”
But Gerstung has seen this show before. Thompson had this same sort of start to 2018. As the coach recalls, Thompson hit over .700 in the first half of last season.
“She’s been hitting very well,” Mattituck first baseman Lexi Burns said. “She’s always been like that. She focuses. She doesn’t get down on herself.”
Had Thompson done anything differently to prepare for this season?
Her answer: No.
“I think as I go up there: ‘What do I need? What am I looking for?’ ” said Thompson, who delivered a three-run homer in a 10-8 victory in East Hampton Friday and a solo shot in a 12-6 win in West Babylon Saturday.
Thompson is a year-round player who participates in travel ball. That helps immensely.
How does she feel standing in the batter’s box these days?
“It feels good,” she said. “Sometimes it can be a little stressful, but most of the time I know I’m here for my teammates and I try to do what I can.”
And that has been a lot. But trying to beat Babylon (4-0, 2-0) was a tall order. Gerstung said it has been over 10 years since Mattituck’s last win over Babylon, a consistently strong team. “The fact that they didn’t run rule us for the for the first time in, I think, five years says a lot,” she said. “We at least played with them and played a full game with them. To me that’s a win for us.”
Babylon opened with a 3-0 lead in the top of the first inning before Mattituck (5-1, 2-1) answered with two runs and four hits — all infield singles by Dominique Crews, Burns, Thompson and Ashley Perkins — in the bottom half.
It was 5-3 through three innings. In the fourth, Babylon blew things open with a six-run explosion highlighted by RBI singles from Alex Katsionis and Meghan Flaugher.
Tenety held Mattituck to one hit — a fourth-inning single swatted by Ana Farr — the rest of the way.
Leadoff batter Emily McGurk finished with three hits and two RBIs. She was a home run shy of hitting for the cycle. But there were no homers on this day, not with a relentless wall of wind blowing in from the outfield.
Katsionis drove in three runs. Flaugher had a pair of singles (one for a run) and walked three times.
Burns singled and a doubled for Mattituck.
“We fought hard, we played hard, we did our best out there and that’s all you can really ask for,” said Perkins.
The loss snapped a five-game win streak for Mattituck, which counted Southold/Greenport, Rocky Point and Southampton among its victims.
With Thompson’s proficient hitting, the Tuckers hope to contend with Babylon and Center Moriches for the league leadership.
Mattituck centerfielder Aniah Thompson said of her sister Jaden: “She does very well, especially against faster pitchers because [in] travel [ball]; that’s what she’s so used to. She’s definitely brought her ‘A’ game this season.”
That’s no April Fools’ joke, either.
Photo caption: Mattituck slugger Jaden Thompson is off to a hot start, hitting .696 (16-for-23) with three home runs and 14 RBIs in six games. (Credit: Bob Liepa)