Lilly Fogarty’s word for the year in 2018 was “opportunity.” As an eighth-grader last season, the pitcher took her opportunities when she could get them, and even got a little taste of high school varsity softball when she was brought up from Mattituck’s junior varsity team for a couple of games.
This year the word is “resiliency.”
As coach Kim Gerstung sees it, it’s a natural fit.
“That’s the way she has been,” Gerstung told reporters. “She gave up walks, gave up walks and she never ever stopped fighting. She just kept battling it.”
Fogarty has had her control issues at times, but the righthander is making progress in that area. For the second straight game, she threw a season-low five walks in a 13-3 Suffolk County League VI defeat of visiting Port Jefferson Monday. In Mattituck’s Strikeout Cancer game (the Tuckers wore pink shirts, pink socks and pink and black eyeblack for the occasion), Fogarty registered six strikeouts and scattered eight hits in the complete-game performance to raise her record to 9-1. She allowed two earned runs.
But her walk total was particularly encouraging.
Gerstung said, “She’s been giving up a lot of walks in the past couple of games — double-digit walks — so this one was by far the best one that she’s pitched.”
Entering the season as Mattituck’s new No. 1, with the graduation of Madison Osler, Fogarty said she was “nervous out of my mind, being a freshman with all these seniors.”
Now she said she is excited about starting games.
Fogarty has confidence in her fastball and changeup. Her curveball is a work in progress.
“She’s a little wild, but that comes with experience and she’s young,” said Mattituck senior catcher Ashley Perkins.
Perkins said she has seen a change in Fogarty since last year. “She’s gotten a lot faster,” Perkins said. “She’s been hitting her spots a lot better. She’s been working on her curveball. She’s doing great.”
Perhaps that shouldn’t come as a surprise. Fogarty has put in the work.
“She’s got a huge potential,” Gerstung said. “She works hard. She’s a very hard worker, too. Offseason she works with a pitching coach and she plays on a travel team.”
Fogarty also has a pitcher’s best friend on her side — an explosive offense.
Mattituck (9-1, 6-1) can rack up the runs, even if it sometimes takes half a game or so for that offense to kick into high gear.
The heart of Mattituck’s order — Nos. 3, 4 and 5 batters Jaden Thompson, Perkins and Aniah Thompson — led the Tuckers’ 13-hit attack with three hits, three runs and two RBIs apiece.
“I feel like we’re hitting great already, but, I mean, we’re only going to improve,” said Perkins.
Mattituck, which has a team batting average over .400, jumped out to a 5-0 lead with a three-run fourth inning that featured an RBI ground-rule double by Perkins and a sacrifice fly by Ana Farr.
The Tuckers followed that up with four-run surges in both the fifth and sixth. They opened the fifth with five straight hits — bunt singles by Dominique Crews and Lexi Burns, an RBI triple by Jaden Thompson, an RBI single by Perkins and an RBI single by Aniah Thompson, making it 9-2. In the sixth, Mattituck produced four more hits, including Jaden Thompson’s second RBI triple and Farr’s RBI single.
In the second, Aniah Thompson socked an RBI triple and Bridget Ryan’s sacrifice bunt made it 2-0.
Port Jefferson’s first two runs came in the fifth when Abby Rolfe slugged a two-out, two-run double. The Royals (3-6, 2-5) tacked on an unearned run in the seventh when Ashley Catoggio smacked a run-scoring single.
Gabby Sanchez went 3-for-4 for Port Jefferson.
So, Mattituck’s hitting is there and the pitching is coming along.
“There’s a lot of mistakes that you can make and a lot of things I have to work on still,” Fogarty said. She added, “I need to use my legs a lot more just to get out to the plate and just to attack the first couple of batters, see what they’re like.”
As for her team, she said, “I think we’re doing great.”
Photo caption: Mattituck freshman pitcher Lilly Fogarty has shown improvement with her control the past couple of games. (Credit: Bob Liepa)