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May 4, 2018 12:37 PMPublication: The East Hampton Press & The Southampton Press

Leah Sellinger's Base Hit Gives Southampton Softball A Walk-Off Victory Over Westhampton Beach

Southampton senior Samantha Wesnofske rounds second base after the first of two home runs on Thursday. DREW BUDD
May 8, 2018 1:20 PM

There’s something different about the Southampton softball team this season. In the past, the Lady Mariners may have allowed a costly error to haunt them, but not this year.

After allowing Westhampton Beach to tie the game on a two-run error in the top of the sixth inning on Thursday, May 3, host Southampton rebounded in the bottom of the seventh. With Emma Wesnofske on third base and two outs, Leah Sellinger faced a 2-2 count, and after a tough battle with Westhampton Beach pitcher Brooke Walker, Sellinger was finally able to place a soft line drive into shallow right field, scoring Wesnofske with the game-winning run, giving the Lady Mariners a walk-off 6-5 victory.

In between pitches in the final at-bat, Sellinger, and her head coach, Tania Ciancio, had a few brief conversations. Ciancio said she was telling Sellinger to be confident, and Sellinger just wanted to put the ball in play.

“There’s a 50-50 chance [Wesnofske] gets in to home if I just hit the ball, so that’s what I was trying to do,” Sellinger explained.

“This is a clutch situation for her,” Ciancio said of Sellinger. “She’s been in this situation before this season and she’s come through, so I told her to take a deep breath. All we need to do is get it out of the infield and we got this win and that’s exactly what she did.

“I’m super proud, super proud of all of them,” she added.

It was a bit of an upset victory for the Lady Mariners (9-6 League VII, 118.22 power points), who won four games last season, while the Lady Hurricanes (8-7 League VII, 140.77) were Suffolk County Class A finalists last season and have aspirations to return to the championship this season. Ciancio, enjoying her first full season as head coach at Southampton, thinks her team can make the playoffs this season and Thursday’s victory proved just that.

“I think they were tenacious, they didn’t give up,” she said of her team. “We had an error that tied up the game, but they didn’t let down, they kept going. They wanted this win and they showed it. This is the team that I know.”

Ciancio said the offense had been struggling this season, but the bats came alive a bit for the Lady Mariners with seven hits.

“Everybody hit the ball today. They had a goal to just put the ball in play and they did that today,” she said.

Southampton was led by senior Samantha Wesnofske, both at the plate and in the pitching circle. Wesnofske, for the first time in her high school career, hit two home runs; a two-run shot over the left field fence in the bottom of the first to give Southampton an early 2-0 lead, then a solo homer to left center field in the fifth to increase her team’s lead to 5-2.

Wesnofske also struck out 13 Lady Canes and worked out of numerous tough situations. After Westhampton Beach tied the game in the sixth, it had the go-ahead run at third base with two outs, but Wesnofske struck out the next batter to keep the game tied. In the top of the seventh, the Lady Canes had the go-ahead runs on second and third with one out, but Wesnofske struck out the next two batters to end that threat. Wesnofske also got out of a one-out, bases-loaded jam in the top of the second and stranded a runner at third with one out with back-to-back punch outs in the third.

“Samantha got a couple of home runs, continues to be relentless in the circle for us,” Ciancio said. “Pressure does nothing to her. She gets herself out of situations. She leads us. She leads this team, 100 percent.”

Southampton expected Thursday’s win to propel them into one of what is nine playoff spots in Class A this season. But as of the latest standings that were released late Monday morning, Westhampton Beach didn’t lose all that much ground and sits in eighth place among Class A teams, while the Lady Mariners are two spots behind the ninth and final spot, which is currently filled by Hampton Bays (10-6 League VII, 11-6 overall, 129.64). The Lady Baymen defeated Southampton, 5-3, at Red Creek Park on May 1, then they pulled off an upset victory of their own on Thursday, May 3, with Amelia Kozuchowski’s two-out base hit driving in Katie Picataggio in the bottom of the eighth inning leading to a 4-3 victory over Islip.

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