Tara Brochu belted a double and a triple, going 3-for-4 with three runs scored in Hampton Bays’ 16-4 League VI-opening win over Pierson Friday.
The sophomore, who has been playing ball since she was six, said she’s comfortable in big situations.
“I look for the gaps in the outfield, show a bunt to watch for players charging in, and see what happens,” said Brochu, who played first base for the Baymen March 29. “It felt great. We did everything we needed to today.”
The teams were tied 3-3 heading into the top of the fifth inning. Rebecca Heaney drew a walk before Brochu’s double moved her to third. Heaney was caught stealing home with Lily Candelaria at the plate, but Brochu advanced to third on a passed ball. On a 3-1 count, Candelaria smacked an RBI-double for the go-ahead run, and three batters later, Shana Pierce brought her home for a 5-3 Hampton Bays lead.
“It was a little nerve-wracking,” Brochu said of the close score. “But we got our heads in the game, got fired up, got loud — that’s what drives us.”
Connecting with Candelaria, a three-year varsity player with a strong arm, for a double play with the bases loaded to end the bottom of the fifth did just that for the Baymen.
Hampton Bays head coach Rich Doulos said he thinks his sophomore currently sitting at the No. 3 spot in the lineup is going to be a special player for the next few years.
“She places the ball. She’ll pull the ball. She hits rockets,” he said. “I think we’ll be talking about her a lot.”
The Baymen stretched their lead on a five-run sixth inning and six-run seventh with the help of six Whalers errors. Brochu drove in two runs with her triple for a 9-4 lead in the top of the sixth, and had an RBI-single in the seventh that made it 12-4. Junior Emily Peyton tossed a complete game with seven strikeouts. Hampton Bays had 10 hits total.
“I love the hustle,” said Doulos, whose team graduated seven longtime starters last year. “Sometimes the instinct and the knowledge of the game isn’t quite there yet, and I think we all need to be a little more patient, but they want to do well and the attitude is there. We’ll put it together. We have to find our identity.”
Brochu said she thinks that’s coming along.
“We’re pretty young, but we’re bonding,” she said. “It’s exciting having a new team and starting fresh. We lost a lot of players, but we’re doing great; we’re working hard. These girls are busting their butts during practice. They know what we need to do, and they get it done.”
Pierson was without what head coach Woody Kneeland believes is going to be his starting pitcher, who was away looking at colleges, but junior Kathryn Powell delivered a solid first few innings. Sophomore Brooke Esposito shined early, reaching second on a chase between the bases, and scored the same way for a 2-2 tie with one out in the bottom of the second. She finished with three walks and two stolen bases. Katie Annicelli finished 3-for-3, Sam Cox added a hit and a run, and Meredith Spolarich drew two walks and scored.
“I’m proud of them, they fought hard,” said Kneeland, whose team consists mainly of juniors focused on other sports, although he only has three returning starters. “That’s all I can ask for from them. When we started practice and open gyms a couple of weeks before the season started there was a lot to catch up on. We’re just trying to get better as a program, and I think they did that today. Every at-bat, every inning, every play they’re learning something. We’re trying to improve, and we’re moving in the right direction.”