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Softball: North Babylon pitcher blanks Riverhead in two-hitter

The astounding catch centerfielder Megan McKay made earlier this year is still fresh in Chris Accardi’s mind. Riverhead’s softball coach isn’t likely to forget it any time soon, either.

It came in a scrimmage against Shoreham-Wading River.

“She made one of the greatest catches I’ve seen,” he said, “running straight out, threw her glove up and she caught the ball.”

Without looking back!

“She’s been a human highlight reel in centerfield,” Accardi said. “She’s just saved so many runs for us this year.”

And so it was Monday. McKay robbed North Babylon of a couple of hits with a pair of defensive gems that helped Riverhead. What didn’t help the Blue Waves in the Suffolk County Class AA Tournament game at North Babylon High School were their bats. Maggie Miller hurled a two-hit shutout with seven strikeouts to shut down Riverhead, 6-0, and put an end to the Blue Waves’ run in the double-elimination tournament.

“The offense it comes and goes for us this year,” Accardi said. “It just it hasn’t been here in the two playoff games, but what are you going to do?”

Riverhead rightfielder Mya Marelli made a catch for the first out in the second inning at North Babylon High School. (Credit: Robert O’Rourk)

Of top-seeded North Babylon (20-2), he said: “They’re a good team and we knew they were coming off a loss. They were the number one seed, so we knew we were coming in to the lion’s den.”

Ashlee Seidler drove in three North Babylon runs from a two-run triple she smashed past first baseman Deanna North in the first inning and a sacrifice fly that made it 5-0 in the third. Seidler also banged a hard-hit single off pitcher Bree McKay’s left knee in the fifth. Bree McKay, Megan’s cousin, was looked at by trainers, but remained in the game.

Hits were hard to come by for No. 7 seed Riverhead (11-10). The only hits the Blue Waves mustered were an infield single Isabella D’Andrea bounced up the middle that couldn’t be handled in the second and Riley Dunbar’s bloop single that sliding rightfielder Aaliyah Lamarre couldn’t hold onto in the third.

“She had a lot of pitches,” Megan McKay said of Miller, who walked two and hit a batter. “She had a screwball, a curve, a drop. It kind of messed us up.”

Samantha Christopher slugged an RBI single through the middle to make it 3-0 in the first.

In the third, after Sienna Denino’s infield single and Madison Picerno’s ground-rule double over the centerfield fence, Miller brought in North Babylon’s fourth run with a groundout.

North Babylon stretched its lead to 6-0 in the fourth. With two outs, Lamarre laid down a bunt single, stole second base and scored when Megan Wegel ripped a double over the third-base bag.

Megan McKay turned in some stellar glove work. She caught three fly balls, two of them in spectacular fashion. Picerno drove a ball to deep center in the first. Initially, it seemed as if McKay would be unable to catch up to it, but she made an over-the-shoulder catch.

“Yeah, it’s crazy,” Dunbar said. “Like no one else would have got to that.”

Megan McKay’s grab in the fourth was even more hard to believe. Denino sent a fly ball to shallow leftfield that McKay, racing in, somehow managed to get her glove under while tumbling forward.

“It’s a lot of fun because I hear everybody cheering me on and it just brings me up,” said Megan McKay, a junior who played leftfield last year.

Accardi said: “She’s been great. Nothing surprises me with Megan McKay. It really doesn’t. I mean, we looked at balls this year and were like, ‘She’s not gonna get it.’ She comes down with it. She’s a lot of fun to watch.”

Riverhead will return its entire team next year except for its only senior, Dunbar, the third baseman.

“She had a kind of a rough year last year with the bat,” Accardi said of Dunbar. “She turned it around. She hit .356 for us. She had a phenomenal year. She should be very proud of herself. I know I am.”

Riverhead had lost its first playoff game to No. 10 Connetquot last Wednesday, 4-0, sending it into the loser’s bracket and a matchup against North Babylon.

Accardi said the improvement Riverhead had made since last year is like the difference between night and day.

“I told the girls, ‘Don’t let the last two playoff games define our season,’ ” he said. “I thought we had a pretty good year. We’re young. Everyone comes back except Riley, and I think we’re gonna be a force to be reckoned with the next couple of years.”