Softball: Blue Waves fall to undefeated Miller Place

Following their first league win of the season against Longwood, Riverhead’s bats went quiet in a 11-2 non-league defeat against Miller Place at Riverhead High School on a chilly Saturday morning.

With temperatures in the 40’s most players were visibly cold, except for Miller Place’s Ava Zicchinelli – she was red hot in the pitcher’s circle. 

Zicchinelli kept Riverhead (1-2 League III, 1-3 overall) hitless until the 5th inning when Kaysee Mojo connected with a single to the opposite field. Building on that momentum the following batter Deanna North crushed the ball over the fence. The home run cut the lead to 5-2.

Unfortunately that was the end of Riverhead’s offensive attack while Miller Place (4-0 League VII, 5-0) continued to pile it on. Zicchinelli finished the complete game effort and collected 12 strikeouts.

“We’ve got to get our bats going,” assistant coach Kate Devinney said. “And limit the mental errors. That’s what has been hurting us so far.”

The softball team, much like every other athletic squad Riverhead has fielded this year, skews young. The team features just two seniors and two juniors – the other nine players are either sophomores, freshmen or eighth graders. 

“When you have a young team, mistakes are going to happen,” Devinney said. “But they’re not your typical freshmen and eighth graders that would never be on the varsity level this early. These girls have played extensive amounts of travel ball. They’re talented. They deserve to be here.”

Against Sachem East to start the season, Riverhead lost 3-5 in a close contest. The Blue Waves then took on Sachem North and again barely lost 7-8. Riverhead fell behind early in the game and almost completed an epic comeback. Sachem North currently sits at the top of the league without a loss.

“I think if we limit the mental errors we win one or both of those games,” Devinney said. “We’ve had some tough losses but it’s always been a good learning experience. We have a lot to work on but they’ll get better.”

Bree McKay, one of the team’s two seniors, pitched the first three innings for the Blue Waves, giving up four runs. All of the damage came in the first inning when Miller Place’s Renee Stocken connected on a grand-slam after they loaded the bases with two singles and a walk. McKay finished with 5 strikeouts. Mya Marelli, a sophomore, finished the game for Riverhead. Where most teams choose to stick with one pitcher the whole game, Riverhead likes to pitch two. McKay is a righty and Marelli is a lefty, giving opposing teams a different look.

“I feel like both of them had a good changeup today,” Devinney said. “I think they just have to be smarter when they’re ahead in the count and hit those outside spots. But hey, they’re learning too.”

Devinney’s goal for Riverhead the rest of the season is simple: “to play well and win.”

Riverhead will host Patchogue-Medford on Tuesday as they look to get back in the winning column. Temperatures are set to rise to the high 60’s – perfect weather to bring those bats out of hibernation.