Blue Waves force extra innings, fall to West Babylon

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04/09/2011 6:50 PM |

GARRET MEADE PHOTO | Riverhead second baseman Sarah Tucci ran back to grab a pop fly during Saturday's game against West Babylon.

In his 11 years as the Riverhead High School softball coach, Bob Fox has never seen the degree of player turnover from one year to the next that he has with this current group of Blue Waves. Riverhead lost seven seniors — all starters — to graduation last year. The Blue Waves have five seniors and five juniors, but only three of those 10 played on the team in 2010.

Among the graduated are catcher Kara Vonatzski, an accomplished player at a vital position. But Fox isn’t fretting. Megan Weiss, who had been the catcher of the future for the past two years, is now the catcher of the present.

Weiss, a sophomore, spent the past two years catching for the junior varsity team, and it has prepared her well for this next stage in her playing career.

Fox had confidence that Weiss could handle the job at the varsity level.

“She’s a very good catcher,” he said. “She blocks everything. Her arm could be a little stronger, but she gets rid of the ball quickly. She does everything right.”

On Saturday, Weiss had her best offensive game to that point in the season. She hit the ball, going 2 for 4, and was also hit by the ball in a Suffolk County League IV game that kept fans on the edge of their seats at Riverhead High School. The Blue Waves bounced back from a 6-0 deficit to force extra innings, but lost to the West Babylon Eagles, 9-7, in nine innings.

GARRET MEADE PHOTO | Riverhead pitcher Amanda Graziano prepared to deliver a pitch against West Babylon.

Nikki Wilkinson, who reached base on a fielder’s choice in the top of the ninth inning, scored to break a 6-6 tie when a fly ball to right field was dropped. Kaitlin Kilcullen then chopped a two-run single through the middle, making it 9-6 and helping undefeated West Babylon on to its fifth win in as many games.

Riverhead, which took its third loss in four games, picked up a run in the bottom half of the inning when Alex McKillop scored from third base on a wild pitch. With runners on second and third, West Babylon pitcher Taylor Webb then struck out Courtney Rheaume for the game’s final out.

“I don’t think we were expecting that, but we’re ready for anything that comes,” West Babylon Coach Nicole Torres said. “My girls always battle.”

Riverhead had scored four runs in the seventh to tie the score at 6-6. Amanda Graziano and Sarah Tucci led off the inning with walks and, one out later, Weiss was hit by a pitch on her left thigh, loading the bases. With two out, Stephanie Falisi stroked a single to center field. The ball skipped past the center fielder, and all four Blue Waves scored on the play, evening up the score to force extra innings. “Up at bat I was all nervous,” Falisi said. “I didn’t want to get the last out of the game, so I just put the bat to the ball.”

Falisi kept faith in her team. “We just had heart,” the freshman first baseman said. “We didn’t get the win, but we left all we got on the field.”

Webb, a senior who raised her record to 5-0, had 14 strikeouts (11 Blue Waves struck out at least once). She gave up six hits and five walks.

Wilkinson and Kilcullen knocked in two runs each.

Last Thursday Riverhead gave up three runs in the bottom of the seventh and suffered a tough 6-5 loss to the Bellport Clippers. Like that game, Saturday’s contest was part of the learning process for the Blue Waves.

“You hang in there a little longer, and you never know what can happen,” Fox said. “Once you start learning how to win those games, you start believing in yourself and you win more games.”

The Blue Waves won on Monday when they defeated the Copiague Eagles, 14-4, in a league game in Riverhead.

Meanwhile, Weiss appears to be making a seamless adjustment to varsity softball. The fact that she has caught Graziano for years — the two played together since they were in Little League — undoubtedly helps.

“I like how the team relies on me,” Weiss said. Referring to playing at the varsity level, she added: “It’s a huge difference. It’s a whole nother game. The girls play better and work harder.”

Was it an unsettling feeling to enter the season with so many new players? Fox said it was anything but, and indicated that he enjoys the sort of coaching required for the current team. As for losses, they usually come with the territory for a team that is short on experience.

Said Fox, “Sometimes it’s good to have adversity before you have success because you enjoy it more” when you win.

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8 Comment

  • Just Enjoy – I guess you missed the article in Monday’s WSJ and today’s NYT and Newsday regarding sales in the country, NYS and Suffolk County.
    There’s nothing more thought-provoking than an unintelligent response from a non-reader or non- thinker. Thanks for making my day.

  • If you knew anything about real estate it would be that ALL real estate is LOCAL. The North Fork is not subjected to the foreclosures and short sales that have infected the rest of the market. Less than one half of 1 percent in fact. Many homeowners here own their homes free and clear, others have very small mortgages and generally speaking most residents here are more financially savvy than the general population. If you follow the media herd you will not have a real sense for what is LOCAL and factual … My house is currently on the market and I don’t have to sell if I don’t like the offer. The fact is that real estate is not a luxury, it is a necessity as much as food and water are. People need shelter in order to survive. Rentals do not give Americans the sense of freedom and self sufficiency that we yearn for, therefore in the end it is the seller that is in the drivers seat because we own we others want and they will mortgage for the next 30 years to get it.

  • I know that real estate is local, perhaps you would like to seek some factual sales figures for the North Fork. You can compare by zip code, is that local enough for you? Go to for the real facts. What were the total number of sales on the North Fork from Riverhead to Orient in the past 12 months ? How many of them were short sales? A number please? Oh btw, please don’t use LIBOR’s MLS figures – being in the business you should know they aren’t accurate and btw what is your source for short sales?

  • There should be no secrecy in the selection of a new superintendant, who is ultimately to serve our community with a salary taken from our tax dollars. This is ridiculous. I wish I was at that meeting. The board declined to comment further? The Board members are in those positions as voted in by the very people they are witholding information from.

  • It is ironic that members of the board who ran for re-election on a platform that included “transparency” are refusing to share information with the public. As Colette said, we, the residents, are paying this person’s salary. We are the employers, not 4 members of the school board.
    I emailed the BOE with a specific question about meeting the superintentend candidates on Tuesday morning, and heard nothing back from any of them. But this is the norm. Emails to the BOE email adress often go unanswered.
    This board was supposededly elected because they felt the district and the prior board were
    “not listening to the public.” Now it is they who are not listening.

  • “Board members Bill McGrath, Mike Fucito and Leo Greeley said after the meeting that they all take issue with the way board has conducted the search so far, but all declined to elaborate.” Wow! I think this statement says it all. If a faction of our own BOE isn’t satisfied witht the process — why it is expected tht the commuity-at-large should be???

    I implore Mr. McGrath, Mr. Fucito & Mr. Greely to start “elaborating” — remember “sunlight is the best disinfectant!”

  • Ms. Santoriello has sent out a notice to her constituency about her concerns with this process. I replied and requested it be sent out to all, but am re-posting my note here anyway.

    From: richard pluschau
    To: [email protected]
    Cc: Bill McGrath ; Bob Alcorn ; Jack Costas ; Leo Greeley ; Leo Greeley ; Marie Lindell ; Mike Fucito

    Shari – I will keep this brief. I hope that you will pass this on to your constituency to keep them informed. I have many friends who do get the communications you send so they will keep me updated. I trust that you are in fact looking to pass on accurate information.

    This process has not been in the dark.
    The Board has outlined the process that it would follow numerous times.
    Here it is again…directly from the School Leadership website:

    The board has been following this recommended process which is a best practice in the eyes of the experts that we have hired.
    I cannot fathom why a Trustee would make a statement in open session indicating they either are not aware of the process, or don’t agree with the process, given that they were part of it, and agreed to it.

    In the end, we have hired experts, we have followed their recommendations, we have consulted with our attorneys.
    We received a large number of candidates and have been doing our due diligence in terms of Screening, Vetting, Interviews, Protocol and Process for interviews, Background Checks, Reference Checks, Site Visits, etc….according to the process that was presented to us by School Leadership that we all agreed upon. There is no way that anyone can say that they don’t know the process and the 6 that have been present have been involved in every step and action.
    We have seen many outstanding candidates and I am confident that we will be able to get to the point in the very near future of having an outstanding candidate for Superintendent….unless the process gets derailed.

    In the event the process gets derailed, here is what we are in for:
    (1) the money spent on consultants and all the time and energy of the board becomes wasted
    (2) we may have no choice but to go with an interim superintendent
    (3) we may not be able to hire any of the candidates that are worthy this year
    (4) we may have turned off future top caliber candidates from applying next year
    (5) we will be in a very tough position next year with a looming tax cap and an interim superintendent who has no long term vested interest in the success of this district.

    Does anyone want any of that? I for one am doing everything I can to prevent those negatives from occurring…The board IS IN COMPLETE AGREEMENT that we would like to seat a qualified Superintendent. We are without a doubt following the prescribed process by the experts.

    I know there are those that want more community involvement in the process, and I am hopeful that we are able to do that.

    Rich Pluschau
    A few additional points:
    It appears that from the comments below the board is split 4/3…and there is harsh criticism against a group known as “the 4”. In fact, there has been active participation among the 6 that were involved and for the vast majority there has been harmony and agreement in principle on almost all we have done in executive sessions to date.

    Janjay23 – you criticize the 4 for not having experience in education…but what about the other 3? For the most part all are in agreement.

    As for input from experts, School Leadership is a well-reknowned expert in this field and has conducted on our behalf a great deal of research and vetting of candidates. It is with this reason that we agreed to hire an expert search firm. We value their expertise and have used that to date….and while I personally have significant experience in hiring Senior Executive positions, and know how to conduct an interview, I have attempted to work with them as well as the TEAM of board trustees to develop a process that we all felt comfortable with and agreed with unanimously during the interviews.

    Hopefully we are able to continue and not get derailed on this process. We will end up with either an excellent candidate for superintendent, or we will be left with the mess I described above.