Reaching the high school softball playoffs may be a long shot for Shoreham-Wading River, but don’t talk to the Wildcats about slim odds. After what happened on Monday, they should know that anything is possible.
Shoreham, which was one out away from defeat, pulled out a thrilling 4-2 comeback victory over rival Rocky Point on Victoria Coman’s tie-breaking, two-run single in the eighth inning.
“These are fun,” Shoreham shortstop Joy Papagianopoulos said after the non-league game at Frank J. Carasiti Elementary School in Rocky Point. “The ones that are the most nervous are the most fun.”
For most of the game, Shoreham (5-7, 4-5 Suffolk County League VI) didn’t have much success against Rocky Point pitcher Karissa Lawrence, who allowed only three hits through the first six innings while the Eagles (4-8, 4-5 League V) took a 2-0 lead.
No strangers to close games and dramatic finishes, the Wildcats responded when their backs were up against the wall in the seventh. Kaitlynn Flynn legged out a one-out infield single and Bailey Rand worked a walk. After Katlynn McGivney bounced into a 6-5 fielder’s choice, Papagianopoulos stepped into the batter’s box with the game on the line.
“I was having trouble with that pitcher early in the game,” the freshman said. “I was just trying to make solid contact and hope for the best.”
Papagianopoulos came through, blooping a hit over second baseman Jade Metcalf’s head to send two runners across home plate.
“It’s nerve-racking,” Papagianopoulos said. “It’s either like that or it’s over.”
In the eighth, Lindsey McKenna and Kat Opiela set the table with one-out singles, Opiela’s hit coming on a bunt. Thanks to an error and a steal by Opiela, both runners were in scoring position for Coman’s heroics.
Coman, the winning pitcher, faced the top of Rocky Point’s order in the bottom half of the inning. She retired the first two batters before Kaitlyn Wilbur reached base on an error. But Coman got Lawrence to bounce a grounder to the second baseman, McGivney, who stepped on second for the game-ending forceout.
Wilbur (3 for 4) drove in both Rocky Point runs. In the third, singles by Piper Goodleaf, Paige Csiktortos and Wilbur made it 1-0. That lead was doubled in the sixth when Csiktortos bounced a double along the left-field line before coming home on Wilbur’s hit to center field.
That was before the tide turned, though. For Shoreham it was the best way to win, and the worst way to lose for Rocky Point.
“We’ve had a lot of good wins and this was one of the good wins,” said Coman, a sophomore righthander who gave up six hits.
Shoreham has been involved in a number of tight games this season.
“It’s nice to be on this side of it,” coach John King said. “We’ve had a couple that have gone the other way on us.”
The Wildcats are 1-2 in one-run games and 3-0 in two-run games.
As far as the playoffs are concerned, the non-league game had no bearing whatsoever, other than the good feeling it gives the Wildcats heading into their final regular-season stretch. They have league games remaining at Hampton Bays (7-5, 6-3), against first-place Mount Sinai (11-0, 8-0) and at Bayport-Blue Point (3-10, 1-7). In order to see the postseason, they need to win them all. That’s a tall order.
Reaching the playoffs would be a nice feather in their cap. The Wildcats start five freshmen and sophomores and only two seniors, Shelby Curtin and Flynn.
King knows better than to sell them short.
He said, “Anything is possible.”
Photo caption: Shoreham-Wading River center fielder Kat Opiela gloves a ground ball. (Credit: Robert O’Rourk)