Strong play in late innings propels Lady Whalers

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Crossover games against League VII opponents provide an opportunity for League VIII teams to test their mettle and prove they can compete with larger schools. And the Pierson softball team did just that last week, beating both Bayport/Blue Point (League VII) and Elwood/John Glenn (League VII) to improve to 6-3, 6-5 overall, and move into second place in League VIII.

Pierson visited Bayport on Thursday and left with a 7-3 win. It beat Glenn by the same score at home on Friday. In both games, the Lady Whalers had key hits late in the game to secure the victory. Against Bayport, Sarah Mayer had a single in the top of the seventh inning that drove in two of her team’s three runs in that frame, giving Pierson a cushion after it entered the inning with a slim 4-3 lead. The Lady Phantoms scored the first run of the game in the first inning before Pierson rebounded to take a 3-1 lead in the third.

Senior Laura Stafford had a good game, finishing with 12 strikeouts while giving up five walks and allowing six hits. She was also 2 for 4 with a pair of RBIs, while Sam Federico was 1 for 3 with two walks and two RBIs.

“It was a very, very exciting game,” Pierson head coach Jill Stellato said. “It was the best game we’ve played. We really kept the errors low.”

The win was even more impressive considering Bayport’s resumé in league play. The Lady Phantoms (6-3, 7-5) handed League VIII leader Hampton Bays its only loss of the season by a 4-2 margin on April 18.

Pierson’s win against Glenn was close until the final innings as well. The Lady Whalers took a 3-0 lead after the first inning, but the Lady Knights countered with two runs in the fourth and one in the fifth to tie the score at 3-3. In the bottom of the fifth, Pierson took a 4-3 lead, and in the sixth inning, the Lady Whalers extended their lead with three runs, providing the final margin.

Federico was 1 for 3 with a three-run home run in the first inning, while Stafford was 2 for 4 with a triple. Megan Pintauro was 1 for 3 with a pair of RBIs, both of which came in the sixth inning.

Stafford was solid in the pitching department again, with 15 strikeouts, two hits, and three walks.

Stellato said she has been pleased with Stafford’s effort, particularly since many of her strikeouts don’t come easily.

“It really seemed liked the strike zone got smaller by the umpire’s standards from our view,” Stellato said. “For her to battle through and still get so many strikeouts was impressive. With a lot of the batters, she had to pitch more balls than we thought she should have to to get girls out. She’s been fighting with that a lot, but she kept her head high and kept going.”

Including an 11-9 win against Mattituck on April 21, the Lady Whalers had won three straight games prior to games scheduled at Southampton on Tuesday and home against Babylon on Wednesday.

In that trio of wins, the Lady Whalers prevailed with clutch play in the latter stages of each game, a turnaround from what had been three straight losses before those contests. In each of those losses, the Lady Whalers were edged by fewer than three runs, and Stellato had said she was waiting for the kind of reversal of fortune she saw last week.

“Everyone took care of things with hitting and backing each other up,” she said. “It was great to get through the week 3-0 against League VII teams. The girls are really starting to come together as a team and are able to depend on each other to get things done. It was a nice team-building week.”

Pierson will host Class C rival Port Jefferson on Friday at 4:30 p.m. and will be seeking to avenge a 6-5 loss on April 3. The Lady Whalers will visit Center Moriches on Monday for a 4:30 p.m. game.

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