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Softball: With McKay’s pitching, one hit’s enough for Riverhead

Sometimes one hit is enough.

Of course, in those instances, it’s helpful to have someone like Riverhead’s Bree McKay in the pitching circle. Whether that would be the case was a question mark until just moments before the start of Thursday’s non-league softball game at Hauppauge High School.

McKay had been pulled in the fourth inning of Riverhead’s previous game against Westhampton Beach two days earlier because of trouble with the left quadricep in the righthander’s landing leg.

“I was a little upset because I thought I’d be out for the whole season,” the junior said. “Then I came back today and I was feeling pretty good.”

Riverhead coach Chris Accardi had two lineups written out just in case, depending on how McKay’s quadricep reacted to warm-ups.

McKay said her quadricep at the Westhampton Beach game felt “really tight and I was just in excruciating pain.”

On Thursday, she said the quad “felt perfect.”

It certainly was good enough to allow McKay to prevail, 3-0, in a pitching duel with Hauppauge’s hard-throwing lefty, Sam Fehrenbach.

McKay struck out six in a three-hit shutout that was completed in a swift 1 hour, 24 minutes. She hit a batter, did not issue a walk and retired the side in order three times. McKay did not allow a hit after the third inning.

Bree McKay (5-2, 1.75 ERA) tossed a three-hit shutout for Riverhead in its 3-0 win at Hauppauge. (Credit: Robert O’Rourk)

Accardi said if McKay couldn’t pitch, he probably would have gone with Mikayla Nirrengarten.

“She’s been pitching really well in the side sessions and she deserved a shot today if Bree couldn’t go, but Bree’s our top pitcher,” he said. “We’re going to ride Bree out in these games.

“She was in the zone all day. She was pitching to soft contact.”

McKay, supported by errorless defense, brought her record to 5-2 with a 1.75 ERA.

“I think the way our defense played today and the way we pitched, we’re capable of beating everyone or anyone,” Accardi said. “This is a good club. This is a very good team. The team has had one loss going into today. [Hauppauge coach Eric] Ericksen always has his girls ready to play. And Sam Fehrenbach pitched a whale of a game for Hauppauge.”

Fehrenbach didn’t deserve to lose, throwing a one-hitter with 11 strikeouts. She walked one and hit a batter.

“She definitely hit her spots,” said Riley Dunbar, the only Riverhead batter to stand between Fehrenbach and a no-hitter. “She sold the changeup really well and she threw a lot of high pitches, which we tend to swing at.”

Fehrenbach was victimized by errant defense in the fifth inning, when Hauppauge committed three of its four errors.

That was also the inning in which Dunbar rolled an infield single that the first baseman couldn’t gather, enabling Nirrengarten to score for a 2-0 lead. Successive infield errors had allowed McKay, Nirrengarten and Mya Marelli to reach base. Isabella D’Andrea, a courtesy runner for McKay, brought Riverhead its first run from a throwing error.

Riverhead (7-3), the Suffolk County League I leader with a 5-1 record, tacked on a third run in the sixth. Shaylee Bealey bolted home on a play in which Adriana Martinez was picked off first base.

Michele Romito, Crisalyn Arruscato and Kadie Cain had Hauppauge’s hits, all singles.

The biggest threat Hauppauge (6-2, 3-1 League IV) mounted came in the third, when Arruscato led off by socking a hit to centerfield and Cain followed with a slow-rolling infield single. They both advanced on Emily Flynn’s sacrifice bunt. But McKay bore down to end the jam with a strikeout and a popup.

“It is kind of crazy with only one hit we won, 3-nothing, but we played good defensively,” said Dunbar.

Riverhead leftfielder Jordyn Kwasna came up with the defensive play of the day, racing in to nab a fly by Fania Abruscato in the sixth.

“The play of the game,” Accardi said. “When [she] made that play in leftfield, I kind of thought it was our day.”

Said Dunbar: “Even though it’s non-league, it still matters because you definitely don’t want to come out and play bad. You always want to do the best you can. And just great to always win.”

No matter how many hits the team manages.