Flashback: Cats Claw MacArthur for L.I. Title

This story was originally published in the June 11, 1992 issue of the Riverhead News-Review after the Shoreham-Wading River softball team won the Class B Long Island Championship. It was Keri Bettenhauser’s sophomore season.

A seemingly cruel twist of fate turned into poetic justice for Keri Bettenhauser and the Shoreham-Wading River High School softball team when the Wildcats edged MacArthur of Nassau County Monday night, 3-2, to take the Long Island B school championship.

The Shoreham-Wading River softball team's Long Island championship was the lead story of June 11, 1992 sports section of the Riverhead News-Review.
The Shoreham-Wading River softball team's Long Island championship was the lead story of June 11, 1992 sports section of the Riverhead News-Review.

Bettenhauser had assured the responsibility for allowing MacArthur to tie the score at 2-2 in the fourth inning on two unearned runs. A botched pickoff attempt and a wild pitch put the runs across.

But Bettenhauser had a chance to redeem herself and she seized it. SWR second baseman Laura Chrabaszcz set the stage for Bettenhauser’s heroics by singling with two outs in the seventh inning.

As she has done already so many times in her young career, Bettenhauser came through in the clutch, lining a run-scoring triple that gave SWR the title.

The Wildcats will head to Albany to engage an unknown opponent in the single-elimination New York State playoff tournament on Friday.

SWR coach Judy Conwell has adopted the attitude, “It’s not who we play, it’s how we play,” adding that, “I’ve had a few undefeated teams that went into the playoffs and got knocked off.”

For that reason, and because this team of surprises has been a dark horse all year long, Conwell did not tell her team that MacArthur was 24-0 going into Tuesday’s game.

“I told them afterwards,” she said.

A Season of Changes

SWR’s other runs against MacArthur were the result of RBI singles by Leslie Habers and Danielle Taddeo in the top of the fourth inning.

This has been a season of adjustments for Conwell and her young team. The coach was admittedly disoriented after taking a sabbatical last year and returning to a sophomore-heavy group of players she had never coached.

Then on March 31 in a non-league game against Patchogue, Bettenhauser broke her hand on a play at the plate, forcing another adjustment.

When she returned to the team three weeks later, the team, which had learned to “reach down a little deeper,” had to readapt to playing with the young superstar.

With Bettenhauser back, the Wildcats rallied to win 10 of their last 14 league games down the stretch to make the playoffs with ease.

And although Bettenhauser’s presence was crucial to the team’s success, it seemed as if different players popped out of the woodwork in nearly every game to help the team to victory, and that theme continued throughout the playoffs, capped by SWR’s Suffolk County Class B championship win last Tuesday.

In between that contest and the game against MacArthur, SWR had to face perhaps the most dominant pitcher in Suffokl County, Kim Tuffy, when the Wildcats challenged Hampton Bays for the Small Schools Championship last Thursday.

Bettenhauser gave up two hits to Tuffy’s six, but Tuffy was able to get our of several bases-loaded jams to preserve her shutout and 1-0 win.

SWR has never won the state title. It came closest in 1984, when it lost in extra innings in the finals.