The Hampton Bays softball team defeated Pierson/Bridgehampton/Shelter Island, 16-4, at Mashashimuet Park in Sag Harbor on Friday, and while the score would indicate otherwise, it was the Lady Baymen’s defense that got the credit for the victory by their head coach, Rich Doulos.
Leading by just two runs heading into the bottom of the fifth inning, Pierson scratched across a run and threatened to, at the very least, tie the game by loading the bases with one out. But Hampton Bays junior starting pitcher Emily Peyton was able to induce a double play, forcing a ground ball to third baseman Shana Pierce, who threw home for the force at the plate, and then junior catcher Lily Candelaria fired to first base for the final out to get the team out of the jam.
The play fired up the Lady Baymen (1-0 League VI, 1-1 overall), who were able to carry it over to the very next inning and went on to score five runs in the sixth, and six runs in the seventh, the blow open what had been a close and competitive game up until that point.
Hampton Bays was aided by six errors in the field by the Lady Whalers in the sixth, but Tara Brochu’s two-run triple was a key turning point in the inning. She finished the game 3 for 4 with a double, triple, three runs scored and three RBIs. Candelaria went 2 for 4, which included a key run-scoring double to break a 3-3 tie in the top of the fifth.
“They showed a lot of poise. They didn’t panic. I was probably panicking more than they did,” Doulos joked. “We definitely made some defensive errors that helped them out in the second inning, but give the girls credit for waiting it out.”
While Hampton Bays has a solid core of players, it has just as many who lack varsity experience, many of whom made their first varsity starts on Friday, including freshman Elle Dunkirk, who led off that sixth-inning rally with a walk after having struck out twice before, and first-year varsity player and senior Dulse Moranchel, who had a solid base hit into center field during that same rally. It was also one of the first games for the team’s new regular starting pitcher, Emily Peyton, who struck out seven in the win.
As for the young Lady Whalers, head coach John “Woody” Kneeland said that his team is still figuring out how to pitch, but gave credit to his starter on Friday, junior Kathryn Powell, who did well through the first five innings. There were a few underlying issues going into the game, Kneeland said, including not having Shelter Island’s Lauren Gurney, who was away on college visits but is expected to be the team’s regular starting pitcher this season.
Pierson (0-2 League VI) was also expected to start the season a week later, Kneeland said, but the games that it had scheduled over the upcoming spring break needed to be rescheduled, forcing them to be played earlier. That has forced what may not be a young team on paper with mostly juniors on the team, but young in the sense of overall experience, to learn more on the fly. Meredith Spolarich, an eighth-grader, made her first varsity start at first base on Friday, freshman Sofia Mancino is brand new to the sport and sophomore Brooke Esposito also brings a lot of speed and athleticism to the team, but is still learning the game.
“We have to get better as a team and as a program,” Kneeland said. “I think that’s happening. It might be hard to tell by the recent final scores, but there are good things going on. All of the pieces have to come together and that all takes time, but I think somewhere in the middle of the season we’ll be having a different conversation about how we’re competing really well against these teams. It’s starting to come together and all of the girls are working hard and learning so much every day, but they’re definitely behind.”
Because of Pierson’s need to reschedule games, the Lady Whalers and Lady Baymen met up once again on Tuesday in Hampton Bays. Pierson also played at Port Jefferson on Wednesday and is slated to host Babylon this Friday, April 5, at 4:30 p.m. Hampton Bays is scheduled to host Port Jeff on Saturday at 10 a.m.