Three outs away from sealing the win, the Bishop McGann-Mercy Diocesan High School softball team appeared to be holding a safe six-run lead. But looks can be deceiving sometimes. That lead wasn’t as safe as the Monarchs would have liked.
A six-run margin was whittled down to two runs by the Southold/Greenport Clippers before McGann-Mercy escaped with a 14-12 decision in an error-filled Suffolk County League VII game on Wednesday.
Were the Monarchs worried that they might lose it?
“No, never,” replied Coach Jacki Paton in a tongue-in-cheek manner before laughing.
Anyone looking for oddities would have found more than enough of them in this game, played on a cold, damp, windy afternoon at Southold High School:
o McGann-Mercy (2-1, 1-1) won despite committing no less than 12 errors. That’s right, an even dozen.
o McGann-Mercy’s starting first baseman, Tara Sledjeski, exited the game in the sixth inning under unusual circumstances. After Southold/Greenport’s Emily King hit a slow roller, pitcher Anna Crowley picked the ball up and fired it toward first base. The ball ricochetted off the back of King’s batting helmet and struck Sledjeski by her mouth. Sledjeski did not seem to be seriously hurt, although she watched the remainder of the game from the bench while Jacqueline Zaweski took over at first.
o Perhaps the weirdest aspect of all was a bottom of the seventh that defied description. “It wasn’t a pretty inning,” Paton said. “Nerves definitely kicked in. You knew something was going to happen. I just didn’t know what was going to happen.”
McGann-Mercy took a 5-0 lead in the top of the first inning and never trailed. But the Monarchs suffered through some anxious moments in the bottom of the seventh.
Southold/Greenport (1-3, 1-2), which trailed by 14-8 going into the bottom of the seventh, scored four runs in a wild two-out rally to narrow the gap — all without the aid of a hit. McGann-Mercy made five errors that inning to help facilitate things for the Clippers.
o Finally, to top things off, with the tying run at the plate, the game ended when Southold/Greenport’s Caylie Jobes was called out for leaving first base early.
“It was scary,” Crowley said. “I was afraid we were going to lose it.”
The Monarchs prevailed, no small thanks to Crowley, who drove in four runs on 3-for-5 hitting and tossed a four-hitter, upping her record to 2-1. The junior right-hander issued seven walks to go with five strikeouts, but she showed composure amid the seventh-inning spectacle of miscues.
“Hey, you know, it’s a learning experience for all of them,” Paton said. “We put ourselves in a position where we should have made the easy plays and got the easy outs, and we didn’t, and it happens, and hopefully we learn something from it.”
It could be noted that the Monarchs inserted two freshmen into the infield who made their varsity debuts, Zaweski and Katie Nolan.
And then there was the miserable weather, which might have contributed to all the errors. McGann-Mercy made 12 errors, but there was plenty of sloppiness to go around. Southold/Greenport was responsible for five errors itself.
The Monarchs banged out 14 hits, though, including three by Karlin McIntyre, who scored four runs and singled in another.
Nicole Busso scored four of Southold/Greenport’s runs, walked twice, brought in a run on a bunt single and stole two bases.
McGann-Mercy had beaten Southold/Greenport, 8-2, in a non-league game on March 22, but this time the Clippers put up a better performance. The Clippers have already shown that they are better than they were when they went 0-19 last year.
“We improved a lot from last year,” Busso said. “We’re not getting mercied. We’re not losing by a lot of runs. We’re keeping our heads up and looking forward.”
Southold/Greenport Coach Cindy Sepenoski said: “They have a whole different outlook on the season. They’re really amazing. Even the people on the bench are solid players. They’ve been all performing.”