GARRET MEADE PHOTO
Riverhead shortstop Yvonne McKay tagged Melissa Kelly of Half Hollow Hills West out at second base when Kelly tried to advance a base on a pickoff attempt that went into right field.
Sometimes the pitcher is the last to know.
It wasn’t until about five minutes after Monday’s game when Riverhead Blue Waves pitcher Julia Morrow learned from a coach that she had just thrown a no-hitter.
Morrow tossed her second career no-hitter in a 5-0 shutout of the visiting Half Hollow Hills West Colts. The senior, making especially good use of her changeups and curveballs, struck out 11 and walked three in the Suffolk County League IV softball game to bring both her team’s record and her own to 2-1.
“I felt pretty good,” said Morrow, who had thrown a perfect game last year in a season opener against the North Babylon Bulldogs. “I would have liked no walks. That’s my personal negative thing for the game.”
Really, though, it was a day of positives for the Blue Waves and their ace. Morrow overpowered the Colts with her fastball, changed speeds and baffled batters. She also did well to stay ahead in the count, throwing 17 first-pitch strikes to the 25 batters she faced. The right-hander struck out seven of the first 10 Hills West batters.
“That’s a good sign,” Riverhead Coach Bob Fox said. “They didn’t touch her.”
The most serious threat to Morrow’s no-hitter came when Hills West’s fifth batter, Fallon Waxman, drove a ball that had Riverhead right fielder Jen Nadeau racing back. Nadeau, with her back to the infield, got a glove on the ball that flew over her head, but couldn’t pull it in. Waxman ended up on second base, and an error was charged on the play.
“You have to tip your hat to Morrow,” said Hills West Coach Rob Rizzo, whose team took its first loss in three games. “She threw very well. She got ahead in the count so she was able to throw all of her pitches, and then she threw strikes.”
Morrow’s pitch count reached 105, with 68 of those pitches strikes. She struck out six different Colts, two of them fanning three times each.
Hills West center fielder Melissa Kelly, a four-year varsity player, has seen Morrow pitch before. “She’s always a tough pitcher, and she always hits her corners,” Kelly said. “She got ahead in the count and she kept the ball up and in and low and out, and she was hitting a lot of her corners. It just made it hard for us because she wasn’t letting anything over the middle.”
On top of that, Morrow, batting in the sixth spot in the order, also delivered a pair of hits, one of which was a run-scoring double that she socked to left field.
Her catcher, Kara Vonatzski, also had a productive afternoon. Vonatzski looped a stand-up triple before scoring on a wild pitch, and she showed quick wrists when she turned on a pitch to lace a double that brought home the fifth run in the sixth inning.
Ali Doscinski also scored on a wild pitch, making the score 4-0 after reaching base on a throwing error in the fourth.
Colleen Dougherty spotted Riverhead a 1-0 lead in the first. She led off by slapping an infield single, then stole second base, advanced to third on a sacrifice bunt and scored on a groundout by Emily Commins.
Riverhead also played well defensively, with Nadeau turning in the defensive play of the day. It came in the fourth after Kelly had worked a nine-pitch walk. Vonatzski made a pickoff attempt, but the ball went past first baseman Ali Barthalt and into right field. But Nadeau, alertly backing up the play, scooped the ball up and fired to shortstop Yvonne McKay, who tagged Kelly out at second base.
The person who took the most hits on the day, however, was the home-plate umpire, Joe Slodysko. Slodysko was hit by five foul balls. Three of them shot off his face mask and another two nailed him in the chest. Slodysko, who said he had never been hit by so many foul balls in a game, worked the entire contest and said he felt O.K. afterward.
Hills West is already looking forward to its return game against Riverhead on May 4.
“This will wake us up,” Hills West left fielder Melissa Lewis said. “I think we’ll be ready for [Morrow] next time.”
The win over Hills West marked the second of seven games Riverhead will play over a busy 10-day stretch. Fox said, “If we go 7 and 0 in this one, it will be some kind of miracle.”