Softball: Wildcats’ season begins as last year’s ended

ROBERT O’ROURK PHOTO | Shoreham-Wading River center fielder Haley Tilton tries to lay down a bunt against Sayville Saturday.


As a sophomore last year Kristen Bricker only saw time in the field for the Sayville Golden Flashes. On a team loaded with talented hitters, Bricker never got the chance to step into the batter’s box.

A year later, after the graduation of several key players from the lineup, Bricker has gotten her chance.

As Shoreham-Wading River found out Saturday afternoon, the Sayville first baseman can crush the ball.

Bricker hit a pair of home runs in a 7-2 Sayville victory at Shoreham-Wading River High School on opening day for the Wildcats. After winning the first state championship in program history last year, the Golden Flashes have picked up right where they left off with two strong victories to open the season.

The Golden Flashes have been the road block for Shoreham to get to the county championship series in each of the past two seasons. Sayville won 6-1 in the Class A semifinals against Shoreham last May.

“We have a good healthy rivalry,” said Sayville coach Tiffany Rowan.

“Against Sayville we’re always a little extra nervous,” said Shoreham coach Christina Shiffman. “Excited, but a little nervous. I think to start our season it’s always tough against our rival team. But we’ll bounce back.”

Bricker crushed a 1-1 pitch over the center field fence in the third inning to give Sayville a 4-1 lead. In the sixth inning she hit an 0-2 pitch to nearly the same spot for a solo home run.

Afterward Rowan was laughing at the fact Bricker never got into the lineup last year.

“She’s a very good hitter,” Rowan said. “She was younger last year and we had a lot of older kids so it was tough to get her in the lineup. But she worked really hard all throughout last year and it’s showing off now.”

Sayville (2-0) scored all seven runs off senior Chelsea Hawks.

Shiffman said she thought Hawks threw the ball well and was victimized by good hitting.

“The first [home run], that was a rise ball and that was good hitting,” she said. “[Bricker] was a good hitter and wherever we put it she was able to get to it.”

Hawks struck out 10 and gave up nine hits to a Golden Flashes team that already looked to be in mid-season form at the plate.

Getting into a groove offensively will be the focus for the Wildcats as the league season begins Tuesday. The Wildcats were solid defensively against Sayville and Shiffman said she has no worries about the team’s ability to pitch and field.

“It’s about hitting,” she said. “We’re focused on hitting and having good at-bats.”

The Wildcats got runs in the second and fifth inning, both on the benefit of some misplays in the field by Sayville. In both innings the Golden Flashes botched a rundown when a Shoreham runner got hung up between two bases. Third baseman Alex Hutchins came around to score in the second after reaching on a leadoff walk. Right fielder Alexis Biemer scored in the fifth after reaching on a one-out single.

Sayville junior Julia Simpson earned the win in her first varsity start. Following in the footsteps of Merissa Selts, who pitched the Flashes to the state title last year, Simpson and Amanda Eremita will split the pitching duties this season.

Rowan said Simpson was poised in her first start.

“She has good control, which is nice,” she said. “She doesn’t get flustered, she just goes out and does her job, which is awesome.”

Simpson gave up just three hits over seven innings and struck out four.

The Wildcats begin their league schedule Tuesday at home against Southampton. As the newest member to League VII, the Wildcats will be facing all new competition throughout the league season.

“We don’t really know what to expect,” Shiffman said. “It’s almost kind of nice not knowing the reputation of the team because we just have to come out and do whatever we’re capable of doing.”

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