Softball: Mercy freshman strikes out 13 in home opener

McGann-Mercy pitcher Nicole Gravagna throws out a runner at first base Monday. (Credit: Robert O'Rourk)
McGann-Mercy pitcher Nicole Gravagna throws out a runner at first base Monday. (Credit: Robert O’Rourk)


An early morning start on the day after a holiday can be a cause for alarm for any coach. Are the players going to be mentally ready? Will they come out sluggish?

Before Monday’s home opener for the McGann-Mercy softball team, first-year coach Rich Schaub was confident his group was ready. The Monarchs put together a strong practice Saturday, giving Schaub reason to believe that would carry over. 

He was right.

The Monarchs pounded out 14 hits in a 10-5 victory over Southampton for the team’s first victory of the season.

Mercy pitcher Nicole Gravagna struck out 13 batters in a complete game win. The freshman, who’s in her second year on varsity, had a big day at the plate as well, going 3-for-4 with a triple.

Gravagna relied on a fastball and change-up to stay ahead of the Mariners hitters. Southampton was missing several of its regular players because school is closed for vacation. The bottom half of the order was mostly inexperienced players and Gravagna capitalized. Ten of her strikeouts came against the bottom four players in Southampton’s lineup.

The Monarchs looked like they were on their way to a blowout win after jumping ahead 6-0 after three innings. But the Mariners showed some resiliency, scoring two in fourth and three in the fifth to close within one run.

The Monarchs answered with four more runs to pull away.

Mercy shortstop Micaela Zebroski went 2-for-4 with a home run, double and 3 RBIs. She hit a two-run shot to deep left-center in the third inning that put Mercy ahead 3-0. Later in the inning, first baseman Kristen Heimroth tripled home two more runs.

The hits were spread all throughout the Mercy lineup. Eight different players recorded a hit.

The win evened the Monarchs’ League VI record at 1-1. Southampton fell to 0-4. The game had originally been scheduled for last Monday, but was postponed because of poor field conditions.

The Monarchs are scheduled to play at Hampton Bays Wednesday.