04/08/14 9:01pm
04/08/2014 9:01 PM
Shoreham-Wading River second baseman Stevie Michelli, covering first base on a bunt. Bayport-Blue Point's Savanna Neuhaus was called out on the play. (Credit: Robert O'Rourk)

Shoreham-Wading River second baseman Stevie Michelli, covering first base on a bunt. Bayport-Blue Point’s Savanna Neuhaus was called out on the play. (Credit: Robert O’Rourk)

PHANTOMS 8, WILDCATS 5

Lauren Petersen’s two-run home run keyed a three-run sixth inning that broke a 5-5 tie and lifted host Bayport-Blue Point to an 8-5 victory over Shoreham-Wading River in a Suffolk County League IV softball game on Tuesday afternoon.

The game was supposed to be played in Shoreham, but Tuesday’s early rains made the Wildcats’ home field unplayable. (more…)

04/07/14 9:48pm
04/07/2014 9:48 PM

BLUE WAVES 12, FALCONS 11

In her first game back since injuring a tendon around her ankle last July, senior third baseman Stephanie Falisi made a memorable return for the Riverhead High School softball team on Monday.

Falisi rapped out three hits and drove in five runs to help the Blue Waves (4-4, 4-4) to a wild 12-11 Suffolk County League III win at Deer Park in a rain-drenched game. (more…)

03/24/14 10:39pm
03/24/2014 10:39 PM
Bishop McGann-Mercy shortstop Micaela Zebrowski wore several layers of clothing to protect herself from the severe cold. (Credit: Robert O'Rourk).

Bishop McGann-Mercy shortstop Micaela Zebrowski wore several layers of clothing to protect herself from the severe cold. (Credit: Robert O’Rourk).

MONARCHS 17, ROYALS 5 (6 INNINGS)

On a bitterly cold spring day, the mercy rule was invoked and Mercy ruled as well.

The Bishop McGann-Mercy softball team opened its season on a winning note Monday afternoon with a 17-5 Suffolk County League V triumph over host Port Jefferson.  (more…)

03/24/14 7:57pm

Riverhead senior Sarah Freeborn slides into home plate to score a run against Kings Park Monday. (Credit: Bill Landon)

KINGSMEN 13, BLUE WAVES 8

When the Riverhead softball team kicked off the 2014 season last Thursday against West Babylon, one lonely run was all it took to lift the Blue Waves and freshman pitcher Casey Plitt to victory.

On a frigid afternoon Monday, in their home opener against Kings Park, the Blue Waves found themselves in a much different game. (more…)

03/20/14 3:00pm
03/20/2014 3:00 PM

Riverhead freshman Casey Plitt will see the majority of the time on the mound this season for the Blue Waves. (Credit: Robert O’Rourk)

The transition from coaching baseball to softball presents some inherent challenges. As new coach Jeff Doroski has found out, there are some benefits to softball.

For starters, no more worrying about pick-offs.

“Bad things usually happen when you try to pick guys off base,” Doroski noted.  (more…)

02/25/14 10:16pm
02/25/2014 10:16 PM
GARRET MEADE PHOTO  |  McGann-Mercy football coach Jeff Doroski faces an uncertain future amid speculation that he will be replaced as the team's varsity coach.

Former McGann-Mercy football coach Jeff Doroski will coach Riverhead’s varsity softball team this spring. (Garret Meade file photo)

Former McGann-Mercy football coach Jeff Doroski has been hired to coach Riverhead’s varsity softball team. He was formally approved by the Board of Education at Tuesday night’s meeting.  (more…)

10/12/13 2:59pm
10/12/2013 2:59 PM

ROBERT O’ROURK PHOTO | Former Riverhead softball players came together for an alumni game Saturday afternoon at Stotzky Park. The “gray” team won 9-8.

It doesn’t take much for a former athlete’s competitive juices to start flowing again. Never mind how long it’s been since the uniform was last buttoned up.

A competitor never loses that fire.

JOE WERKMEISTER

JOE WERKMEISTER

“If you’re a competitor, you’re a competitor all the way through,” said Bob Fox, the recently retired varsity softball coach at Riverhead.

Take for example Catherine Dillingham.

A 2005 Riverhead graduate who played four years of varsity softball for the Blue Waves, Dillingham sprinted around the bases, dove on the dirt and chased down baserunners Saturday morning as if it was a championship game.

“She’s got the most fire,” said Dillingham’s teammate, Melissa Edwards, after an alumni softball game at Stotzky Park. “She can’t mess up, because then she freaks out.”

Dillingham’s energy and Edwards’ bat helped the “gray” team to a 9-8 victory over the “white” team Saturday in an entertaining, well-played game featuring more than a dozen former Blue Waves players from the last decade.

ROBERT O’ROURK PHOTO | Catherine Dillingham (’05) played shortstop for the gray team.

That Dillingham, the gray team’s shortstop, still had the competitive fire came as no surprise to Fox.

“She hated making an error, hated making a mistake,” Fox said of Dillingham’s high school career. “There are lot of girls like that.”

Early in the game Dillingham stood in the batter’s box, her bat raised as she waited for the pitch from Fox – who was the designated pitcher for both teams. Dillingham let the pitch go and the umpire yelled “strike!”

Dillingham fired back a disapproving look.

“First warning!” the umpire countered, later joking that Dillingham was the only player who had to be warned.

In the 8th inning at shortstop, Dillingham snagged a line drive just off the top of the dirt. Seeing that the runner at first was caught between the bases, Dillingham sprinted toward her to apply the tag rather than throw it.

“Have you seen her throws all day?” Edwards quipped.

For nearly all the women, it had been a long time since they last played a softball game.

“That’s the first time a ball’s been hit to me in God knows how long,” said Dillingham, who played softball in college at Mount St. Mary’s.

There was one notable exception: the white team’s star shortstop, Jackie Zilnicki. A three-sport standout at Riverhead, Zilnicki faced a constant besiege of playful ribbing.

“Who invited you Zilnicki!?” one player yelled.

“How is she still good? wondered another.

Yet another player described her as “like a magnet.”

ROBERT O’ROURK PHOTO | Riverhead softball coach Bob Fox was the designated pitcher for both teams.

At shortstop, Zilnicki smoothly scooped up nearly every ball hit her way. And at the plate, her powerful lefty bat forced almost the entire team to shift into right field when she stepped into the box.

“She’s fresh out of college, though” Dillingham wryly noted.

“It’s a little unfair,” said Edwards, who was a catcher at Springfield College for four years after graduating from Riverhead in 2001. Edwards, a coach at Pierson High School, launched a two-run home run to left field early in the game and just missed hitting another later in the game.

At Riverhead, Zilnicki was one of the top athletes to come through the school in the last decade. A two-time recipient of the News-Review’s Athlete of the Year award, Zilnicki played basketball and softball at Western Connecticut State University, where she graduated in 2012. As a senior, Zilnicki was honored as the Female Athlete of the Year at Western Connecticut, batting .477 on the softball team with 45 runs batted in.

Every time she stepped to the plate Saturday, everyone stood on their toes expecting Zilnicki to hit a bomb. She just missed a three-run home run in the seventh when she launched a ball off the right-field fence.

Fox said Zilnicki was the type of player who could play any position as a Blue Wave.

“Overall I think Jackie was the best player [I coached],” he said.

Zilnicki had a chance to end the game with one swing in the bottom of the ninth when she came up with the bases loaded and two outs, her team down by two runs. She singled in one run, but that was as close as her team would get.

The alumni game, which is expected to become an annual event, had been something talked about for the past few years, Fox said. After deciding to retire after last season to spend more time with his grandchildren, Fox figured this would be the ideal time to start.

And he wanted it to have a purpose. So this year’s event was also a fundraiser to purchase two automated external defibrillators for the high school softball teams.

Fox said even though most schools have a trainer and AEDs on school grounds, even a slight delay can be the difference between life and death.

“If you get hit in the chest with a ball, you got two minutes,” he said. “We want to try to protect our kids more.”

Fox said the AEDs would be donated to the school on the stipulation that they be used by the softball teams in the spring. In the other seasons, the school can use them at its discretion, he said.

“Mr. Fox has done a lot for us and the program at Riverhead for years,” Edwards said. “To come out and support him, that’s huge I think.”

joew@timesreview.com

10/05/13 12:00pm
10/05/2013 12:00 PM
DANIEL DE MATO PHOTO  |  Riverhead shortstop Danielle Napoli applies the tag at second base on a Bay Shore runner Wednesday in the Class AA quarterfinals.

DANIEL DE MATO FILE PHOTO | Riverhead shortstop Danielle Napoli applies the tag at second base on a Bay Shore runner last spring in the playoffs.

A Riverhead High School alumni softball game will be held Oct. 12 at Stotzky Park with proceeds going toward the purchase of portable automated external defibrillators for the varsity and JV softball teams.

The event is sponsored by Riverhead Little League and begins at 10 a.m. Any former Riverhead softball player is encouraged to participate. A $20 registration fee per player includes a T-shirt. The game will be nine innings on Field 4 at Stotzky Park. Helmets and catchers equipment will be provided.

For more information and to register, visit the event’s Facebook page. The rain date is Oct. 13.