Lenny Dykstra last played in the majors almost two years before Marissa Rizzi was even born, and there’s a good possibility she may never have seen the three-time All Star play, let alone know about his style of play. However, it’s becoming clear early on in the Eastport South Manor softball player’s career that she has the same fearless approach to the game as the one-time New York Met and could quite possibly take on Dykstra’s nickname of “Nails.”
The freshman pitcher, who has dominated the competition all season, got drilled in the shin with a line drive in the top of the second inning in the opening round of the Suffolk County Class A playoffs against Bayport/Blue Point on May 21. After hitting the deck for a mere 30 seconds, she got up, walked around the circle and told her coaches and teammates she would not be heading to the sidelines.
Rizzi sat down the next three batters in order and anchored her team in a 6-2 win over the seventh seed Lady Phantoms. Rizzi finished the day allowing just four hits and one earned run. ESM moved on to face Rocky Point in the second round on May 23 (see separate story).
“When I got hit, I felt like it was incentive to strike them out and to get them back for hitting me in the shin,” Rizzi said. “I was ok and knew I had to keep playing. I think we played together as a team today and if we didn’t play together we might not have won.”
It’s not the first time Rizzi has found herself on the receiving end of a line drive. As an eighth-grader, she was hit in the face during a scrimmage and now wears a protective mask when she pitches.
“We were thinking she’s gotten hit before; it’s a tough circle, that’s what happens there,” ESM head coach Laura Ward said. “She’s a tough kid and once she got up, we knew she’d be ok.”
At the time Rizzi got hit, her team was up 3-0 thanks to her efforts at the plate in the bottom of the first inning in the form of a two-run double that scored Dana Taglioni and Nina Gaita. Rizzi later scored on a Jackie Chester double.
The Lady Sharks added two to their lead in the bottom of the third on an error on an Amanda Rose fielder’s choice as Rizzi and Kailah Konkel scored. The home team tacked on its final run of the day with a Rizzi RBI single in the bottom of the fourth.
The Lady Phantoms scored once in the top of the fifth, an unearned run, and again in the top of the sixth for a 6-2 final.
“They played together, they played up, they played to win,” Ward said of her team.