With a week to go, local softball teams are involved in a mad scramble to earn playoff berths, with Westhampton, Hampton Bays, Southampton, and East Hampton all playing make or break games.
It’s been years since the Lady Bonackers and Lady Mariners faced off in a make or break softball game, and last Friday both teams delivered for the loyal fans that have waited so long.
Yes, the Lady Mariners, playing at home, emerged victorious, by the slimmest of margins, a 1-0 score. But there were only winners on the field on this day.
Sam Wesnofske, Southampton’s senior all-star pitcher, turned in a superhuman effort against East Hampton, going the distance and striking out 17 batters. Caroline Wetter’s single in the fourth drove in Stella Schoenberg for the only run of the game.
It was only one of the nail biters contested last week in what has become one of the most competitive seasons ever for East End teams.
Southampton, like so many of the tightly bunched teams in the 24-team League VII, wants a playoff berth. The Lady Mariners took an important step on May 3, knocking off Westhampton 6-5.
Leah Sellinger hit a walk-off single to score Emma Wesnofske and lead Southampton in Suffolk VII. The always reliable Wesnofske struck out 13 and also went yard twice. Sellinger hit a walk-off single to score Emma Wesnofske with the winning run.
The two wins upped Southampton’s record to 9-6 — good enough for a playoff berth? Not necessarily. Section 11, the governing body of public high school athletics, instituted a ratings system similar to one used in football. Southampton did not catapult ahead of the Lady Hurricanes in the point system despite the victory. It uses weighted averages and strength of opponents to choose those teams most deserving of a playoff berth. It is deeply flawed. Just ask coach Tania Ciancino if the Lady Mariners are denied a spot.
Westhampton, playing at home crushed 12-0 on May 2 in a must-win game. Lauren Ramos went 3-for-4 and McKinley Skala went 3-for-3 to lead Westhampton in Suffolk VII. Angie Acampora struck out eight in a five-inning one-hitter.
Westhampton, despite an inferior 7-7 won-lost record, has a rating of 134.8, and as of the last calculations provided by Section 11, Southampton sits at 113.7. Both teams are in Class A, and there may not be room for both in the playoffs, which begin May 14.
That’s because Hampton Bays (9-6, 129.6 rating) defeated Southampton, 5-3, at Red Creek Park on May 1. Then, they pulled out a critical victory three days later when Amelia Kozuchowski’s two-out base hit drove in Katie Picataggio with the winning run against Islip. Hampton Bays had a tough encounter at East Islip on May 8 and finishes at Mercy on May 11. Even with two losses, Hampton Bays may be sitting in the catbird seat.
Southampton played Hauppauge (11-5) at home on May 8 and plays Rocky Point (5-10) on May 11 and travels to Bayport/Blue Point (2-8) on May 10. All the games are slated to begin at 4:30 PM.
The clock has finally run out on East Hampton. The locals have two home games left, May 10 versus East Islip and May 11 against Mattituck (4:30 PM).
Riverhead, a Class AA team competing in League II, has lost three in a row. On May 2, the Lady Waves lost a heartbreaker at Bayshore 3-2. Sachem beat the locals 6-2 a day earlier.
The Waves (3-5) have three games left as of this writing: at home against Whitman (7-4) on May 7 and Northport May 10, and at Lindenhurst (6-3)(0-9) on May 9.