Having a good pitcher is huge for a high school softball team. Having a pitcher who can hit, too, is a real nice bonus.
That’s what Shoreham-Wading River has in Victoria Coman. The junior seems equally at home in the batter’s box as she is in the pitching circle.
Coman said she spends about as much time on hitting as pitching. Asked what she likes better, striking out a batter or getting a hit, she couldn’t choose. “I like them both, honestly,” she said.
While Coman is sparing in her comments during interviews, her play on the field speaks volumes. In addition to her pitching Friday, she drove in three runs (including the winning run) on 2-for-3 hitting as second-seeded Shoreham held off No. 3 Miller Place, 5-4, in an elimination game in the Suffolk County Class A Tournament. The Wildcats will play No. 1 Mount Sinai or No. 5 Sayville in their next game on Sunday.
“I’m very happy with how I did,” said Coman, a pitcher of few words.
Referring to Coman’s pitching and hitting, Shoreham catcher Melissa Marchese said, “It’s great to have both packages.”
Coman, whose two-run single gave host Shoreham a 3-2 lead in the third inning, supplied a vital hit in the fifth. She looped a single that fell in rightfield, allowing Bailey Rand to score, snapping a 4-4 tie.
“She’s a good hitter,” Rand said of Coman. “She definitely is a contact hitter. She does a lot and she knows what she’s doing.”
And her pitching isn’t too shabby, either. The righthander has allowed only one earned run over two games. On Friday she gave up 12 hits (three by Victoria Iavarone) but no walks and struck out three.
“She was really getting it done today,” said Rand.
Coman has a variety of pitches she can turn to. Her arsenal includes a fastball, changeup, screwball, curveball and drop. She said she has gotten stronger through offseason work.
“She’s definitely [grown] a lot,” said Marchese, who is in her third year catching Coman. “She’s gained momentum. She’s gained control of her pitches. I’m very proud of her.”
Shoreham coach Bill King said: “She does focus on what she does and she knows she has a job to do and she does it to the best of her ability. She’s very tough on herself. I have confidence with her as a pitcher.”
League IX champion Shoreham (17-3) won its sixth league title and first since 2011. The Wildcats, though, were coming off a 4-2 loss to Comsewogue in their playoff opener, dropping them into the loser’s bracket. The pressure was on.
“We knew today one of us was going to be going home and I’m very proud of everyone on this team that they all did their part,” Rand said. “That’s all that matters. We all did what we had to do.”
Shoreham was leading Miller Place (14-6) by 3-2 when the game was suspended by rain and lightning for about 45 minutes after three and a half innings. Then the sun came out and play resumed.
Miller Place, coached by former Shoreham shortstop Justine Scutaro (Class of 2006), went in front, 4-3, in the fifth. Emma Acevedo leveled a two-run single.
That lead didn’t last long, though. In the Shoreham half of the fifth, Marchese chopped a single and Rand reached base on an error. With two outs, Marchese scored on a wild pitch before Coman came through with her go-ahead hit.
Two outs into the seventh, Miller Place’s Sara Stransky bounced a single through the middle. But Miller Place’s hopes were dashed when Coman got Sarah Loftin to ground out, ending it.
“I teared up,” Rand, a senior, said. “For me, it’s just like I want to be here as long as I can. It was really important, especially to the seniors, that we win.”
Photo caption: Victoria Coman’s pitching and hitting helped Shoreham-Wading River survive an elimination game against Miller Place. (Credit: Robert O’Rourk)