For Bishop McGann-Mercy, it was a case of double jeopardy.
Not only were the Monarchs facing one of the best softball pitchers on Long Island in Allie Stanya, they were playing against one of the finest teams in the state in Babylon.
Those two factors proved to be difficult to overcome Friday as the Panthers registered a 16-1 victory in a Suffolk County League VII encounter that was shortened to five innings because of the mercy rule.
On this afternoon, Mercy (1-4, 1-4), however, did not rule at home against a talented side that has set its sights on winning the state tournament this season after reaching the state semifinals last year.
“They’re a great team,” Mercy coach Rose Horton said. “They’ve been a great team for some time now. I don’t anticipate them letting up any time soon. I believe they’re going to go far again this year.”
Babylon coach Rick Punzone, whose team improved to 5-0, 4-0, also has some high expectations. “Anything short of a state championship is going to be disappointing,” he said of his veteran-laden side.
The hard-throwing Stanya was anything but disappointing. The righthander was superb, striking out 10, walking one batter and allowing five hits over five innings. She struck out the side three times, in the first, second and fourth innings.
“My spin was really on today,” said Stanya, who helped her cause by going 3-for-3 with two RBIs and three runs scored. “I felt really loose out there and I hit my spots really well today.
“Every game I just go out, not cocky or anything. Just go out there and do my thing.”
Her thing is winning. Stanya is a two-time Suffolk small school pitcher of the year and a four-time All-County selection.
“She’s every bit as advertised,” Punzone said. “She’s been around, and we expect nothing but that type of performance every week.”
Mercy shortstop Izzy Sorgi, who struck out in both of her at-bats, walked away impressed. “She’s amazing. I’m an admirer, a fan,” she said. “I’ve played with her for so long … and she’s very impressive.”
Asked what pitches were working for Stanya, Sorgi replied with a laugh: “I really don’t know. I’m sure she has a whole arsenal.”
Sorgi then laughed before becoming serious.
“But I think we can hit her,” she said. “We had hits. We had innings we rallied a little bit. That’s important to focus on. She throws so hard that once you make contact it should go.”
But the Monarchs couldn’t put together enough of them to make a game of it. They did have three consecutive hits in the third inning as pitcher Sarah Penny, who doubled, scored on Gabby Jean’s bunt single after Jordyn Stromski stroked the second of her two hits.
“After seeing her for the first time and striking out, I know what she had,” Penny said.
The Panthers have been next to impossible to stop this year. They have outscored teams, 61-6, while winning via the mercy rule four times. They followed suit Friday, scoring three runs in the first inning, five in the second, three in the fourth and another five in the fifth.
Catcher Molly Cummings went 4-for-4 with six RBIs and three runs. Shortstop Emily McGurk had three RBIs and third baseman Danielle Donaldson scored four times.
“I wouldn’t be able to pick out one person, ‘Oh, let’s pick on her,’ because they don’t have one of those players,” Horton said. “They’re pretty solid all around, one through nine or one through 10, however they run their order. They’re a great team.”
Horton felt the Monarchs had the talent to win, though.
“I think it’s definitely a mental hurdle that we need to figure out as a team,” he said. “I think we have a very solid team, although it may not show in today’s score. But we have some lack of confidence in certain areas and that shows when you get up at bat and you don’t believe in yourself, or when you’re in the field and you don’t believe you’re going to make the next play. That’s where we struggled the most today. We do our hitting, we do our fielding. We practice hard, but it all comes within. When you play a tough team, you have to know you can do it.”
Photo caption: Bishop McGann-Mercy second baseman Lauren Hanna prepares to receive catcher Olivia Valle’s throw as Babylon’s Julia Valler slides in safe for the steal. (Credit: Robert O’Rourk)