Two days after falling short in their quest to reach the Suffolk County softball playoffs, the Bishop McGann-Mercy Monarchs weren’t going through the motions in their season finale. Rather, they were keeping in motion.
McGann-Mercy’s astute base-running skills were a major reason why it recorded a 6-3 League VIII victory over the host Stony Brook School, whether it was taking an extra base or advantage of lapses or errors or stealing a base.
“Actually, I was very impressed with them,” McGann-Mercy coach Jacki Paton said.
After not playing for 10 days because of a bye week and rainouts, the Monarchs (9-10, 8-9) needed to win their final three games in order to clinch a postseason spot. Last Wednesday, they dropped a 13-3 decision to the Pierson/Bridgehampton Whalers.
Last Thursday, the Monarchs bounced back with a 5-4 win over the Southold/Greenport Clippers. Amy Boden, the lone senior, threw five and two-third innings and went 3 for 4 with two runs batted in, driving in the winning run with a walk-off single in the bottom of the seventh inning.
“To end it that way, it was beautiful,” Paton said. “It couldn’t have been scripted any better.”
Friday’s game wasn’t as dramatic as every McGann-Mercy run came via playing small ball.
“Every situation where they could take an extra base, they took one,” Paton said.
“Good things come from that,” winning junior pitcher Amanda Crowley said.
Just look how the Monarchs scored:
Jackie Zaweski led off the third with a single, moved from first to third on Micaela Zeboski’s bunt, and scored when pitcher Linda Devine allowed catcher Nick Willoughy’s throw back to her to glance off her glove. Zeboski scored on a groundout.
Shannon Wilmott led off the fourth with a bunt, stole second, reached third on a forceout and scored on an error.
After the Bears (3-14, 3-14) tied it at 3-3, McGann-Mercy was at it again in the sixth. Crowley led off with one of her two doubles, went to third on catcher Amanda Burriesci’s bunt single and scored on a wild pitch. Burriesci came home on Kate Nolan’s sacrifice fly.
In the seventh, Brie Bieber walked, went to second on Karlin McIntyre’s single and to third on a wild pitch before she crossed the plate on Crowley’s groundout.
Paton credited the McGann-Mercy junior high coach, Chrissie Fagereng, for the head’s-up play.
“They had a great junior high coach who played college ball and a lot of them played for her,” she said. “They had that instinct. They’re natural runners and they kept it. There have been times where our hitting has gone up and down. However, our base running has always been [there]. They love to run the bases. When they get on, they’re always looking to take the extra base. They did a great job again, paying attention to all the little details.”
Crowley started out strong, stumbling in the fourth and fifth.
“She pulled through a lot,” Burriesci said. “Her fastball was really good today. She had a few changeups that were really on key.”
Christine Boss tagged Crowley for a solo shot into the trees and bushes that is a short right-field porch in the fourth before the Bears tied the score at 3-3 with two more runs in the fifth.
But Crowley bounced back, inducing the Bears to ground into double plays to end the sixth and seventh innings.
“I just kind of throw or hit,” she said. “I don’t think too much about other stuff. I know I have to do something, get on base or have people score. I don’t want to psyche myself out. So I don’t really overthink it because that’s what I will end up doing.”
Zeboski, an eighth-grade second baseman, started the first double play by stepping on second and throwing to first. She was at the end of the second one as Bieber grabbed a line drive and doubled up the runner at second.
Next year Zeboski will be joined by six juniors, two freshmen and two sophomores.
“Our last three games, everybody had pieces,” Paton said. “Everybody was 1 for 3, 2 for 3, 2 for 4. There is really no hole anywhere. If they continue to grow like they did from the beginning of the season to the end of the season, next year we’ll be in a phenomenal spot.”