ROBERT O’ROURK PHOTO | Brittany Mahan of Shoreham-Wading River receiving a throw to get Sayville’s Emily Sellitti out.
SUFFOLK CLASS A FIRST ROUND | GOLDEN FLASHES 4, WILDCATS 0
To stop a softball team like Sayville, you just might have to be perfect. After all, the Golden Flashes are the defending New York State Class A champions.
For three-plus innings on Tuesday afternoon, Shoreham-Wading River senior right-hander Chelsea Hawks was perfect, mowing down the opening 10 batters before the fourth-seeded Golden Flashes took advantage of some imperfect play by the No. 5 Wildcats and some errors to break through for a 4-0 home win in the Suffolk County Class A Tournament first-round game.
“We gave them four outs every inning, which didn’t help,” said a tearful Hawks, who played in her final high school game. “And it wasn’t our game.”
For the third year in a row, Sayville (18-3) eliminated Shoreham (16-3) from the playoffs.
“We had been playing pretty good and we thought we had a pretty good shot,” Hawks said. We played them last year … and beat them twice during the season. I knew we had a shot, definitely. We just had to play our game and make every play, which we didn’t do.”
Shoreham coach Christina Shiffman agreed.
“They’re definitely a quality team with quality hitters,” she said. “On the mound, even though they had four runs on the board, Chelsea on every single pitch, we had to be careful with all batters because they have a great hitting team. You have to be close to perfect and I think it helps to score first and that’s what we were going for in there.”
Sayville scored first as it the hosts took advantage of just about every mistake — large and small.
“They definitely did,” Hawks said. “We made an error and they took it to their advantage. So, we gave it to them, completely.”
Hawks (15-2) was unhittable through the first 10 hitters, striking out five, including the side in the third inning. With one out in the fourth, Sayville second baseman Jess Griffin tried a bunt that third baseman Alex Hutchins threw over the head of first baseman Erin Whelan. Griffin wound up at second.
“At that point, we were just trying to get something going, put the ball in play, making them make plays,” Sayville coach Brittany Rowan said.
After retiring Cindy Griffin on an infield pop-up, Hawks walked Kristen Bricker. Olivia Kaczmarak singled in Griffin and Crissy Malone drove in Bricker with another single for a 2-0 lead.
“Chelsea Hawks is an absolutely phenomenal pitcher,” Rowan said. “We knew that we were going to have to make some adjustments at the plate. We went one-two-three for the first, second and third inning. They learned from their at-bats. They went up and they started driving the ball.”
The hosts added a run in the fifth inning as Emily Sellitti singled, stole second, went to third on a wild pitch and scored on Jess Griffin’s single. With two out in the sixth and Malone on second with a double, the Wildcats twice allowed catchable pop-ups to fall in foul territory, giving Kerry Keehan a lifeline and two extra opportunities to lash a run-scoring single to center.
“Unfortunately, that’s the way the momentum goes sometimes, not in our favor,” Shiffman said. “In practice and every time we talk to them, we stress to them how important it is to play as perfect as we can and make no errors. Sometimes it can be contagious, and unfortunately, that’s what happened.”
Sayville junior right-hander Julia Simpson (12-2) was quite effective, limiting the Wildcat to only one hit — by Brittany Mahan in the first inning. Hutchins managed to reach base three times — all on errors. Simpson struck out four batters and walked one.
“We just didn’t hit,” Hawks said. “We can’t win with no hits.”
Simpson got the start because Amanda Eremita had a 101-degree fever.
“She’s filling in some big shoes from last year,” Rowan said of Simpson. “I’m so proud of what she’s done throughout the whole year.”
If Sayville has any aspirations of repeating as a state champion, Rowan hasn’t talked about it.
“We never talk about one game, anything in the future,” she said. “It’s always who we’re playing. We only focus on that. We don’t look ahead. To tell you the truth, I don’t look ahead. People are asking me, ‘When’s the next game?’ I don’t know. I’m very superstitious. We don’t look ahead to the future or to the past. What we did was nice, but it doesn’t help us get to where we need to get today.”
The Golden Flash’s next game is against top-seeded Miller Place in the semifinals on today.
“They can go far,” Shiffman said. “They can beat anyone in Suffolk County. I think they can be competitive. If they don’t win, they’ll give every team a run for their money.”