The May 2 softball game at Rye Country Day School against rival Holy Child was replete with unusual/unexpected plays.
By Melanie Cane
The May 2 softball game at Rye Country Day School against rival Holy Child was replete with unusual/unexpected plays. But once the Gryphons took the lead in the top of the third inning, they never looked back, winning 4-2.
In the bottom of the first, Sydney Ginsburg, Rye Country Day’s pitcher and leadoff hitter, began the inning with a triple, but she was left stranded at third as the next two batters struck out and the final batter hit an easy foul ball pop-up.
In the top of the second, Gryphon Alexa Cippolone started off with a single, and then was out at second on a fielder’s choice. In what seemed to be a sure out, Anna Bauer popped up to centerfield, but the normally flawless veteran junior Melanie Mandell dropped the ball. Fortunately for the home team, no runs scored.
In the bottom of the second, Wildcat Jess Grasso struck out but reached base when the catcher dropped the ball — and then threw it by the first baseman. The first base ump stopped the ball from going into outfield and then threw it back to the pitcher. The next two batters struck out, and the next batter, catcher Nereida Mendez did as well, but she reached base on a dropped ball third strike. After four strikeouts, and with runners on first and third, Jess Cordiano popped up to second base to end the inning.
In the top of the third, Gryphon Elizabeth Curcio tripled to right and scored on Stephanie Kireopoulos’ RBI single.
The Wildcats threatened to even the score in the bottom of the third, when Ginsburg stole third after a single and a fielder’s choice. Once again, she was stranded.
The Gryphons tacked on two more runs in the top of the fourth. Julianna Capasso stole second and Millie Cavicchio sent her home with an RBI double to centerfield. Then, Curcio sent Cavicchio home on a double to right.
Rye Country Day went down in order in the bottom of the fourth and again in the fifth on a beautiful diving catch by Holy Child first baseman Julie Kellet, who stuck out her glove to catch a line drive down the line by Lily Velona. For the first time in the game, the Wildcats retired Holy Child in order in the top of the sixth, the last coming on a come-back to freshman pitcher Micki Carver.
The Wildcats rallied in the bottom of the sixth. Hailey Nicholson reached first on a throwing error. She stole second and Mandell doubled her home. Then, Mandell stole third and home on an overthrow to make it a 3-2 game. The Gryphons promptly tacked on a fourth run in the top of the seventh, and the Wildcats could not answer back.
Gryphon junior pitcher Molly Leitner, who has been a pitching and hitting phenom since her freshman year, had 12 strikeouts. Both Rye Country Day Coach Margaret Scarcella and Holy Child Coach Mike Clancy credited her for the win. Clancy said, “She was outstanding on the mound. She has shown great command of her pitches this year and has the ability to remain calm and work out of jams, as she did with a runner on third and no one out in the first inning.
Coach Clancy also praised Curcio. “She came up huge for us this game, going three for four. She has anchored our defense all season at shortstop, and her bat is getting hot at just the right time.”
Coach Scarcella was disappointed with her team’s lack of focus. “Mental mistakes hurt us — giving them two runs — and in a close game they are magnified. We expect physical errors, but mental are more costly.”
Coach Clancy was happy with his team’s performance. “I enjoy the games against Rye Country Day School because the teams always seem so evenly matched. But we expect to see Rye Country Day in the post-season, and we know that, as always, they will come to play. One thing is for certain: It won’t be boring!”
Post-season begins May 16.